Thursday, November 18, 2010

Treacle Tart: Harry Potter's Favorite......Yes, I get it! I'm a nerd.

©2010 John Houser III
If you are ridiculously obsessed with enjoy the Harry Potter series as I do, then you know that J.K Rowling created lots of imaginative foods for the kids of Hogwarts to eat. Foodstuffs like Chocolate Frogs, Acid Pops, Cockroach Clusters and Nosebleed Nougat are just a few of the sweets enjoyed by our wizarding wunderkind. One item that is often thought of as made up but is actually a real dish (before the books) is the Treacle Tart.

I can hear you now "Treacle? That's totally a made up word?" Nope, it's real alright and its recipe is as old as Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem.

The Treacle Tart's predecessor was a mixture of honey and "medicinal" herbs and spices that the Romans used to fight sickness. Over time, as industrialization took hold, the recipe switched out the honey for the more affordable Treacle. What's Treacle you say? Tell us now goddammit you say? Well, Impatience McGhee, Treacle is a syrup that is left behind after sugar is processed. We call it Molasses here in America.

That's it? Yep. Kind of disappointing isn't it. Treacle sounds like it's something that is made by House Elves in the kitchens of Hogwarts castle, or at the very least an Oompa Loompa or two. But alack, no, it's just fucking molasses.

There is no reason to be disappointed though, molasses makes for great pies. The Shoo Fly Pie is made from molasses and people travel far and wide to find a place that makes a good one. Treacle Tarts and Shoo Fly pies are basically the same thing with slight differences. Let's just say that they're twins and The Treacle Tart is the evil twin.

It is evil because at some point in its development, the Treacle Tart got a bit sweeter with the addition of golden syrup (light treacle) and the subtraction of the regular Treacle. Some of today's modern recipes even leave the regular treacle completely out. This is not the recipe we will be going over today.

I have put golden syrup (light treacle) in my version but used black strap molasses (black treacle) to give it a deeper flavor. Yes. I'm using it because it sounds dirtier than regular molasses, but it also balances out the golden syrup in a way as to not make it cloying. Confused yet? Don't worry I'm here to help. I'll even teach you how to make a sweet pie crust.

*I do want to point out that the photos were taken during the first test run of the recipe. The final product will be a few shades lighter than the tart pictured. I know you are shocked, but I do test my recipes.

Treacle Tart
Recipe makes 2 pies
©2010 John Houser III
Sweet pie dough (Pate Sucree):
12 oz Flour
3 oz Sugar
zest of 1/2 of a Lemon
8 oz frozen butter chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 eggs
pinch of salt

1. In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Pulse a few times to mix together.

2. Add the butter and pulse until the flour mixture looks like cornmeal. See the picture below.

©2010 John Houser III
3. Add the eggs to the flour and pulse until combined. The dough should keep together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. If it doesn't stay together, add a teaspoon of water, pulse, and try again.

©2010 John Houser III

4. Turn out the dough and fold it over a few times to combine.

©2010 John Houser III

5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put the dough into the refrigerator. Let it sit there for at least an hour. While in the fridge, the flour sucks up the egg and hydrates making it sticky and bonding the dough together so when you roll it out later it doesn't crumble apart. Letting the dough sit is important.

©2010 John Houser III

And now, while the dough is chilling in the fridge..........

©2010 John Houser III


28 oz Golden Syrup (I used king syrup, but feel free to find whatever golden syrup you can find)
4 oz Blackstrap Molasses
6 oz Country Bread (baguette, Italian loaf- something dense) cut into cubes
3 Eggs
2 1/2 oz of Cream
8 oz Butter
1 Lemon- zested and juiced

Special Equipment:
Tart Pan
3 cups of dried beans
rolling pin
aluminum foil
bench scraper - not essential but great for dough cutting and clean up

1. Preheat your oven to 325°

2. Put the cubed bread onto the food processor and pulse until your bread crumbs are around the size of peas. Set them out to dry out a little more. There will be smaller and bigger pieces throughout, it's not a big deal.

Add caption

©2010 John Houser III
©2010 John Houser III

4. Now that you're all cleaned up, take the pie dough out of the fridge and pierce the bottom with a fork to create holes so the air will come out and not dome your crust.

©2010 John Houser III

5. As another precaution, rip off two pieces of aluminum foil and crinkle them up and open them back up. Place them on top of your dough as a barrier for the beans that you will use to weigh the dough down and keep it from doming up and ruining your beautiful crust.  

©2010 John Houser III

6. Lay your foil pieces criss crossed over the dough and fill with the dried beans.

©2010 John Houser III

7. Put the crust into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Set it on a cooling rack and don't touch it until it is completely cool. Keep your oven set on 325°.

©2010 John Houser III

8. While the pie crust is baking, melt the butter and cook it until the solids brown. Be careful here and watch the butter and keep it from turning black. Set it aside to cool a bit.

©2010 John Houser III

9. Mix your syrups together then add the warm butter, salt, lemon zest and juice. After they are combined, add the cream and then finally the eggs. Whisk together until homogeneous.

©2010 John Houser III

10. Toss the bread crumbs into the filling and stir until mixed through. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes so the bread crumbs can suck up the filling a bit.

©2010 John Houser III

11. Place your tart pan onto a sheet pan (it might bubble over), and then place your pan onto the top rack that has been pulled out. Fill your tart crust while it is on the rack. These kind of fillings are a pain in the ass to fill and walk across the room without spilling it all down the front of your shirt. Looks lovely doesn't it?

©2010 John Houser III

12. Let it bake for 1 hour. It will look something like this by the way.

©2010 John Houser III

13. Let this cool for at least 20 minutes. I find that it is best served a little warm. When it is warm, it's a bit of a pain to cut, but if you lightly (lightly!) wipe some grapeseed or vegetable oil (something neutral) on the blade of you knife before cutting, it will not get as gummy with treacle. Always wipe your knife off on a damp towel after every cut.

©2010 John Houser III

14. This is not a super sweet pie. I have found that it is complemented wonderfully by a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 Dobby and Winky can kiss my ass. They never made a Treacle Tart as good as this. Enjoy muggles!



Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

Nice!!! Love that you made this!

Nerwen76 said...

as always, I am awed by your flair for writing! and the fact that this tart uses King's syrup *my absolute FAV!* makes me want to get started right away! when are we going to see Potter? <3 and butterbeer...ur sis!

Spice Sherpa said...

This is the most entertaining post I've read in a looong time. Love your flair. Love the Harry Potter world. Love molasses. But now I'm actually really interested learning more about treacle's spicy Roman predecessor.

Unknown said...

i really like this recipe, it is the closest to what my mother used to make