I’d been having trouble writing. Big transitions can do that. Distractions, adjustments, change. And, in all (though good to very good) recent life modifications – the risk of getting lost in another. The fear of forgetting what I’m about.
To maintain a firm sense of self, it helps me to go back to the basics of the things I like, the things I love.
Back to history.
Back to Harry.
I’ll do both here.
Each time I reread Harry Potter and The Whichever, I am always surprised to find or, perhaps, remember things I had forgotten. As a food blogger and Potter fanatic, I am thrilled by any food reference, of which there are many – Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, Petunia’s Pudding, Dumbledore’s affection for Lemon Drops and one I recently rediscovered – Harry’s favorite – Treacle Tart.
Naturally, I had to know its history. What’s a treacle? How do you make one? What’s so great about it, that it would be the Chosen One’s chosen one?
Here are my findings:
As it turns out, “treacle” is a general term used to describe any syrupy byproduct that is the result of grinding sugar. Perhaps the most famous treacle (and the one I used in my recipe) is Lyle’s Golden Syrup. So let’s start with him.
In 1881, Scotsmans Abram Lyle and his five sons started a sugar refinery business in London. In those days, part of the process was beating the heck out of large mounds of sugar cane rendering a more manageable sugar situation. A byproduct of the sugar smack down was a thick, sweet syrup. An entrepreneurial man, Lyle refined the syrup and sold it, at first to his workers and later, as the product grew in popularity, to England at large. In 1883 Lyle’s Golden Syrup was packaged in its signature tin with Samson’s bee-filled lion as its mascot. Missing the biblical reference? Don’t worry, the whole thing was lost on Samson’s friends and family as well in the Old Testament.
“And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.” Judges 14:14.
Apparently, Samson killed a lion, some bees made a hive in that lion, and Samson gathered their sweet nectar. Weird, I know…
What’s even weirder is the multitude of “treacle tart” recipes that look nothing alike. Though they all involve some form of “treacle,” that’s about the only common ground. Dried fruits, spices, bread crumbs, lemon, cream, black treacle, corn syrup (an American abomination…I mean interpretation), molasses – the varieties for filling are seemingly endless.
Though, the most commonly referenced and, more importantly, referenced by British cooking authority Heston Blumenthal is the “tart of bread.” In this rendition, a pastry crust is filled with a mixture of treacle (only Lyle’s Golden will do), breadcrumbs, heavy cream, egg, and lemon.
The result? An intensely sweet, crunchy crusted, gooey interior-ed tart that I think Potter would definitely pig out on or at least find some solace in as he does with this treat in Order of the Phoenix.
I hope you will too.
Here’s my recipe:
First get your crust ingredients out. It’s the usual suspects for pie crust with a few razzle-dazzles.
Place the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter.
Pulse 12 – 15 times until the butter is the size of peas.
Whisk together the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients. Run the motor until the mixture comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and pat into a disc. Wrap with plastic and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.
Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface. It should be slightly larger than a 9 inch tart pan.
Press the dough into your tart pan and prick all over with a fork. Blind bake the tart shell by placing a sheet of buttered parchment (butter side down) in the tart and filling it with pie weights or dried beans. Place in a 375°F oven and bake for 20 minutes until the crust starts to brown.
While the crust is baking, make the filling. Whisk together the golden syrup, bread crumbs, cream, egg, and lemon zest.
After 20 minutes, take the crust out of the oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Fill with the treacle filling and return to the oven.
Bake for an additional 30 minutes until the crust is a deep brown color and the filling has set. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Cozy up with your favorite Harry Potter book. Mine is the Sorcerer’s Stone…oh, and The Camber of Secrets. Or is it Prisoner of Azkaban? It’s definitely Goblet of Fire. Unless it’s Order of the Phoenix. I’m pretty sure it’s Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows read simultaneously – one in my hand and one as an audio book. Is it overkill to have the movies in the background?
If you can put your book down for a second, enjoy Harry’s favorite treat. Maybe it’ll become yours too!
Harry's Favorite Treacle Tart
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
For the filling:
1 cup of Lyle’s Golden Syrup (I bought it on Amazon)
6 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
the zest of 1 lemon
To make the crust, place the flour, powdered sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
Add the cubed butter and pulse 12 – 15 times until the butter is the size of peas.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla.
With the motor running, drizzle the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough out on a generously floured surface (dough will be sticky!!) and pat into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
After the dough has chilled, roll it out so it is slightly larger than a 9 inch tart pan. Ease it into the pan pressing it into the fluted edge. Prick the bottom with a fork. Place a piece of buttered parchment into the tart shell and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake the tart for 20 minutes until it starts to brown.
While the tart shell is baking, make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the golden syrup, bread crumbs, heavy cream, egg, and lemon zest. Set aside.
When the shell has baked for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and discard parchment and pie weights. Fill the shell with the filling and return it to the oven to bake for an additional 30 minutes until the filling is set and the tart is a deep golden brown color.
Let cool slightly before enjoying with your favorite Harry Potter book or all of them. Or the movies. Yes, definitely those.
Avada Kedavra my
day’s, week’s plans, am I right? You know where to find me!