I love, love, love, love, love, love Harry Potter. Who doesn’t need a little magic in their life, right? But it does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to
live bake. So let’s move on. I also LOVE tarts. Enter this authentic treacle tart recipe.
An authentic treacle tart recipe
This treacle tart recipe is based on a version by Heston Blumenthal, one of Britain’s most notable chefs. Sweet pastry crust is baked until crisp, then filled with an enchanting, gooey and nuanced bread crumb-flecked filling.
Now treacle isn’t an ingredient you find in your everyday American pantry. Or is it?
What is treacle and where do I find it?
Simple put, treacle is a slightly caramelized sugar syrup. It is not akin to corn syrup. And for the love of owls please don’t ever use corn syrup. For anything. Just say NO. Bad for the environment, and bad for your health.
Different types of treacle
There are different types of treacle, ranging in color and richness from light and mild to dark and bitter. What we Americans call molasses would be called black treacle at Hogwarts.
I use a combination of molasses and golden treacle for this tart, in an effort to stick with a classic version. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a well-known brand of light treacle. Of course, you can order it on Amazon if it’s out of stock at Honeydukes.
Beware of the polyjuice potion perpetrators
As with any wonderful, original ingredient, there will always be imposters. You might find syrups labeled “treacle” or “golden syrup” by American producers. Be very wary and read the ingredients carefully. Many sneak in corn syrup, or even worse, the high fructose version. Confrigo!
Traditional treacle tart ingredients
- Lyle’s cane syrup or other golden cane syrup
- kosher salt
- heavy cream
- ginger (ground or grated fresh)
- vanilla extract
- bread crumbs from day-old, fresh-baked bread
- short crust pastry (sweet pie crust)
Conjuring up your crust
If you’d like to attack it Beauxbatons-style (AKA old-school French), mix your pastry ingredients by hand. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt, rub in the butter until it’s in small pieces, then knead in the egg beaten with water until the dough is a cohesive mass.
If like me you are the proud owner of a decade-old food processor that still gets it done, by all means… USE. IT.
Short pastry crust in five easy steps
#1: Mix dough. Pour flour, salt and confectioner’s in food processor and processor briefly to combine. Add butter cubes around the top, and pulse until they are no longer visible. Add beaten egg until the dough comes together in a cohesive mass.
#2: Rest dough. Chill for at least an hour, or even a few days. You can also freeze tightly-wrapped dough at this stage.
#3: Roll and line tart pan. Allow dough to sit on counter for 30-40 minutes, to soften a bit. Roll it to a circle an inch and a half larger than your tart pan. I recommend using powdered sugar to prevent sticking, as too much additional flour will toughen and dry out the pastry crust.
Wrap dough carefully around rolling pin to get it off the counter, then reverse roll to lay it in the tart pan.
#4: Dock and line the crust. Dock a few holes with a fork, and line the dough with foil and weight with beans for added insurance. Even a well-made pastry will shrink back a bit when it bakes. The nature of the bloody business, I’m afraid.
#5: Blind bake. Bake the crust until it just begins to brown around the edges, and the shine comes off the bottom. Placing the tart pan on an upside-down sheet pan will allow it to cook evenly on all sides.
How to repair cracks in crust
If you’re crust tears during rolling or cracks during baking, a little Episkey! should repair it just fine. For those young muggles not of age, patch any holes with your fingers and a little more dough. Then simply bake it a few more minutes to set the raw patches.
Sorting treacle tart recipes into their proper houses
For a truly authentic tart you’d enjoy at Madam Puddifoot’s, use toasted whole wheat bread crumbs instead of almond flour. Traditionally the British use “brown bread”, which is a slightly sweet, wheat bread, but not the same as American whole grain bread.
Gluten-free treacle tart
If you want a gluten-free treacle tart, I like replacing the bread crumbs with almond flour because it adds a nutty flavor. See the recipe for my gluten-free short crust pastry recipe.
What really matters here is the end result. Treacle tart on the table, and Harry Potter magic in the air. No matter which house you find yourself in.
Yours in magic,
Journey to the magical world of Hogwarts by way of this classic, British dessert! This recipe makes enough for an 11″ tart pan, if you use a smaller pan you will simply have extra dough and batter you could use to make mini tarts in a cupcake pan or mini tart pans.
Now matter how you make it, this treacle tart is truly simple to prepare – even gluten-free – and enchanting to eat!
Traditional Sweet Pastry Crust
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 5 ounces/11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Gluten-free Sweet Pastry Crust
- 1¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher or flake salt
- 1 large egg beaten with one tablespoon of water
Treacle Tart Filling
- 1½ cups Lyle’s cane syrup or other golden cane syrup
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 eggs, large
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup fresh-baked bread crumbs OR 1 cup almond flour+ ¼ cup tapioca or arrowroot flour (gluten free)
Prepare + chill crust
By hand: Whisk flour, salt and confectioner’s sugar (and xanthan gum if gluten-free) in a large bowl. Using tips of fingers, rub butter in until it looks mostly like wet sand. Make a well in the middle, and pour in the beaten egg. Gradually work the egg into the flour until a moist dough forms, using the heel of your hand to distribute any remaining large pieces of butter. Shape into a flat disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze until firm throughout. This can be done 2-3 days ahead, or way in advance of the Yule Ball and frozen. Thaw until cold but soft before rolling.
In food processor: Processor flour, sugar, salt (and xanthan gum for gluten free) until combined. Add butter cubes, and pulse until large pieces are no longer visible. Add beaten egg, and pulse until dough comes together. Shape dough into flat disk, wrap tightly and chill for a couple hours, overnight, or freeze.
Roll + mold crust into pan
Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out dough into circle a quarter of an inch thick, and at least an inch or two larger than your tart pan. Place dough in tart pan with a removable bottom, and press gently but firmly against the bottom and sides to secure dough. Trim any excess dough hanging over the edges. Place in refrigerator or freezer until chilled and firm throughout.
Dock + pre-bake crust
Preheat oven to 350° F. Dock the bottom of the crust with a fork, lay a large, crumpled piece of parchment on top (or use foil), and pour in pie weights (or a pound of dried beans or even spare coins). Bake for 25 minutes on an inverted sheet pan, until crust is a light golden brown.
Boil + mix treacle filling
- While the pastry crust bakes, toast almond meal or bread crumbs in large pan until fragrant and light brown, stirring to keep bottom layer from burning.
- In a small saucepan, combine syrup, molasses, and salt, and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- Whisk together eggs, heavy cream, vanilla, and ginger.
- Whisk treacle mixture into egg mixture, then whisk in bread crumbs or almond meal.
Ready, set, bake!
- Take pastry crust out of oven and remove weights and parchment. Lower oven to 325° F.
- Place tart pan back in oven on top of sheet pan.
- Pour filling into crust. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until filling is set in the center (when jiggled moves as one mass).
- Cool in the tart pan on a rack.
Keywords: treacle tart recipe, Harry Potter recipes, treacle, golden syrup