Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Back in my kitchen today.
I was planning on cooking with my little Easy Bake Oven, only to discover it doesn't come with a light-bulb to cook with! So I dig around my home trying to find a incandescent light-bulb only to realize I've been thwarted by my own environmental consciousness.
Blasted compact florescent bulbs! Curse you for denying me mini Funfetti cakes coated in frosting made from powder!
So I swallowed my disappointment and decided I would cook in my real oven.
Today we're making a treacle tart, a classic English treat. A dessert I have never actually tasted.
Now usually, when I cook on the blog I have some familiarity with what I'm making. That way I have some idea of how it should turn out. However with this dessert, I'm embarrassed to admit that my only familiarity with it is through Harry Potter (not exactly a prime culinary reference) and a chance encounter with the cooler case at Waitrose. So I hit up my blogger friend and Englishman, Mr. P for help. He advised me that if I wanted to be traditional, I should avoid recipes where the filling has been softened with cream or eggs, and so I have.
If you're comfortable with making pie crusts, you'll find this tart very simple and easy to make. The tart is filled with a mixture of breadcrumbs, treacle and a bit of lemon and/or ginger. The filling is... different. Firm and sweet, with the flavors of slightly caramelized sugar and brightened with the lemon and ginger.
Served warm or cold, it is best with a creamy accompaniment. Serve it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, clotted cream or my favorite, gobs of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
yields one 9" tart, serves 6-8
150g all purpose flour
113g cold unsalted butter, cubed
5-6 tablespoons ice cold water
235g golden syrup*
215g fresh white breadcrumbs*
zest of a large lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of water
*Note on the ingredients: Fresh breadcrumbs are not the same as those dry powdery breadcrumbs in a can. To make fresh breadcrumbs, use any slightly stale white bread you can find. Remove the crusts, toss into a food processor and pulse until light and fluffy. If your bread is too fresh, it may not work well in your machine, becoming dense and gummy. To turn fresh bread into crumbs, place the bread in a warm oven until slightly crusty, before processing.
If you lack a food processor, grate chunks of slightly stale bread with a box grater.
Golden Syrup is widely available, however in many parts of the United States it can be difficult to find. Many large grocery chains do carry small tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup either with the pancake syrups or on the baking aisle. You can also order it online from Amazon's Grocery & Gourmet Food.
In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, cubed butter and salt. Pulse until the bits of butter are a tad smaller than peas. Pulse in the water, adding a little at a time. Use just enough water to bind the dough.
Gather up the crumbs and form a ball, then wrap in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 375°F. Add the golden syrup to a medium sauce pan and place over medium-low heat. Swirl the syrup until it is warm and fluid. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside and work on the crust.
Roll out 2/3rds of the dough and drape it over your tart pan. Roll out the remaining third of the dough into a rectangular sheet and then cut ribbons from it with either a knife or a fluted ravioli cutter.
Fill the tart with the breadcrumbs mixture and smooth.
Drape the strips over the tart to form a lattice (for a handy how-to click here)
Go around the edge of the pan pressing against the edge to trim off the extra crust and seal together the crust and lattice.
Lightly beat the egg and one teaspoon of water. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and then bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Now, I'm not sure how this tart holds up against other treacle tarts (though there really isn't much variation between recipes), tarts made by folks who know what they're doing. So I can't say if this tart is representational, but I'm really not head over heels in love with it. It is certainly edible, but it is a little on the dull side. The Little Humble doesn't seem to agree with me and is gobbling down hunks of it as I type, but I keep trying to think of things I could do to liven up the flavor and the texture.
Now I'm off to find a light bulb!