I've been putting off this recipe. Part of it was that I definitely over-baked myself during the holidays, but part of it was just because I couldn't stomach the thought of eating a treacle tart. I mean, I love me a good pie, but a sugar syrup pie with breadcrumbs? I'd rather have a pecan pie and enjoy myself a whole lot more. So it took me a good 3 weeks to work up the motivation to say "Let's do this." And this past weekend, I did it.
And I didn't regret it. Sure, I messed up a little, which we'll get into, but the end result was surprisingly delicious. Would I still have preferred a pecan pie? Of course, pecan pies are amazing. But if you don't like the sickeningly sweet caramel heaviness of a pecan pie, and you're looking for something lighter, brighter, and a bit lemony, then a treacle tart is actually your best bet.
The first step was making the pie crust. The recipe is a standard pie crust recipe: cut the butter into the flour, and add the water until it comes together. I kept this dough drier than I usually do, because I noticed the past few times I've made pie dough (hi, lemon tart), I feel like I made it too wet, which left me with a droopy, shrinking, melty crust when cooked. I put in about 2 1/2 of the recommended 3 tablespoons of water, and while the dough came together, it was a bit crumbly when rolling out. So, negative points for difficulty, but on the other hand, positive points because it made the butter taste shine through. Lesson learned: I'm willing to put in work for butter.
So, mess up #1: the wrong size tart pan. I only have one tart pan, and it is 9" round. I assumed this was standard size and, against Mary Berry's constant advice, I did not read the recipe through fully before embarking on this technical. I also didn't even realize this mistake until I was writing this blog post and copied down the full recipe, tin size included. In retrospect, I did have to roll the dough out very thin to fit in my pan, and I didn't have nearly enough to do a beautiful lattice (the one I did was "meh" at best).
However, if you get the right pan, this recipe is actually really easy, with just three main ingredients (besides the crust). A couple lemons, some breadcrumbs, and golden syrup.
As you may remember, golden syrup was a bit of a sticking point when I made brandy snaps a few months ago. We don't have it here in the US (add it to the reasons we suck), and I didn't have enough leftover from November to make this tart, so I made a new batch. I'll save my rhapsodizing about golden syrup for a separate (bonus!) post, but suffice to say it's a sweet lemony syrup that really cannot be replaced by molasses or corn syrup (much as baking sites and cookbooks say you can).
Mess up #2: again, not reading the whole recipe, and throwing my breadcrumbs in before I saw Mary specified fine breadcrumbs. I just took some panko (whole wheat, because it was on sale) breadcrumbs and tossed them in. Panko is a special kind of breadcrumb precisely because they are less fine. They left the filling looking... lumpy. And gross.
At this point, after the crust mistake, the breadcrumb mistake, and thinking that a weirdly tart sugar syrup filling would be way too... sweet? Sour? I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't good.
Fortunately, what I got was an amazing pie. A crispy crust and a toasty, crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly citrus filling. It wasn't too sweet at all, and wasn't heavy in the slightest. Would I make it again? Probably not, but that's because I prefer heavy, decadent desserts--why else do you think I have a second dessert stomach? To fill it up, of course. But, if you're looking for a summertime dessert, or some lighter fare for the vanilla crowd (no offense), this is a great option. especially topped with your favorite non-chocolate ice cream (I don't think chocolate would pair well).
Also: no soggy bottom.
makes one 7" round tart
250 grams (9 ounces) ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
130 grams (4 1/2 ounces) BUTTER, cold
2-3 tablespoons ICE WATER
400 grams (14 ounces) GOLDEN SYRUP
150 grams (5 1/2 ounces) FINE BREADCRUMBS
2 LEMONS, zest and juice
1 large EGG, for egg wash
1. Place the BUTTER and FLOUR in a large bowl and "cut" in the butter with a pastry cutter, pair of knives, or your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs with a few larger pea-sized pieces of butter
2. Add two tablespoons of the ICE WATER and mix until moistened; if the mixture does not hold together and become one mass of dough, add a third tablespoon and mix
3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 20 minutes
1. Remove 150 grams (5 1/2 ounces) of the pastry and set aside for the lattice top
2. Roll the rest of the pastry out thinly (~1/8") on a lightly floured surface, and line the pan, including the sides--make sure to press the dough firmly into the fluted edges, and cut off any pieces that hang over
3. "Dock" the bottom of the crust by pricking all over with a fork, creating tiny holes, to stop the base from rising up during baking
4. Roll out the reserved 150 grams of pastry to 1/8-1/4" thin and 9" in diameter (wider than the actual tart tin) and brush on beaten EGG
5. Place both raw crusts in the fridge to chill
filling & baking:
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Place the GOLDEN SYRUP into a pot and heat gently over medium-low heat (do not boil)
3. Once thinned out and warm add the BREADCRUMBS and LEMON JUICE and ZEST to the syrup
4. Allow to cool slightly, but not so cool as thicken, and pour into the prepared crust
5. Cut the reserved pastry into long strips, about 1/2" wide
6. Lay the strips in a lattice pattern over the top of the pie, then press the edges into the crust to seal
7. Bake on a pre-heated baking tray for 10 minutes, or until pastry is beginning to become brown, then turn the oven down to 350F, covering if the lattice top is browning too much, and baking another 25-30 minutes until filling is set and crust is brown
8. Remove from oven and let cool slightly--serve warm or cold (preferably with ice cream)
A personal challenge to conquer every technical challenge, and select signature bakes, from The Great British Bake Off
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