Treacle, otherwise known as golden syrup, looks like thick, golden honey and is formed during the refining of sugar.  Be sure to get the genuine golden syrup, not the squeezable version which is thinner and has less taste.  Grandma’s pastry was made with lard, but shortening or more butter can be substituted in the recipe. Treacle tart should be thin like a pizza and I use a shallow pizza plate. Treacle tart  is perfect topped with vanilla ice cream and somehow Grandma would find it in the wilds of Yorkshire shortly after World War II.

Serves 8

  • 1/2 cup/200 g golden syrup
  • 1 slice white bread
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

For the pie pastry

  • 2 1/2 cups/300 g flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons/90 g butter, more for the plate
  • 6 tablespoons/60 g lard
  • 4 tablespoons/60 ml water, more if needed
  • 10-inch/25-cm heatproof pizza plate or shallow pie pan

1. For the pie pastry: sift the flour with the baking powder and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter and lard in small cubes and add to the flour. Rub the fats into the flour with your fingertips to form crumbs. Stir in the water with a fork to make sticky crumbs, adding more water if necessary. Press the dough together with your fist to make a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill until firm, 15-20 minutes.

2. For the filling: Cube the bread, spread it on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Grind the frozen bread cubes in a processor, using the pulse button. Measure the golden syrup into a small bowl, stir in the lemon rind and juice, then the crumbs. Butter the pizza plate.

3.  To assemble the tart: Cut off and set aside about a quarter of the pastry dough. Roll out the rest on a floured board to an 12-inch/30-cm round (the dough will be about 1/4 inch/5 mm thick). Line the plate with the dough round, leaving a 1-inch/2.5-cm border overlapping as an edge.  Roll the remaining dough with the trimmings to a long strip and cut it in ribbons about 3/4-inch/2-cm wide.  Pour the filling into the plate and spread it with the back of a spoon almost to the edge of the plate. Lay a diagonal lattice of pastry ribbons over the filling and trim the ends. Fold the dough edge over the ribbon ends and press down with the tines of a fork to neaten them.  Chill the tart until the pastry is firm, 15-20 minutes.

4. Set a shelf  in the center of the oven with a baking sheet on top and heat it to 375◦F/190◦C.  Set the tart in the oven on the hot baking sheet and bake until the pastry and filling are browned, 25-30 minutes.  Serve warm, topping each slice with a scoop of ice cream.


From One Soufflé at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France by Anne Willan, 2013