heston blumenthal’s perfect treacle tart revisited

heston blumenthal's perfect treacle tart

“Haven’t I read this before?” Why, yes you have. But for one thing, the picture is beyond ghastly. Secondly I followed even more of the rules than before. And finally I previously linked to The Times, and can’t stand the idea of the recipe disappearing behind the Murdoch paywall.

So how was it this time? I made the pastry myself. It was alright. I am no pastry ninja, possessing of skillet-like furnaces for hands that sees any dough crumble to bits in my grasp. I need a walk-in fridge to help with this. I’d be happy enough with shop-bought pastry for this. And I aged the treacle by baking it in a low oven for 24 hours. I’d like to think it made a difference, but the flavour maturation is subtle but interesting. Worth it if you have the time, don’t weep if you don’t.

If you haven’t tried this yet, really, really do. If you think Heston Blumenthal recipes are too complicated, they’re really, really not. It’s a stunner, and will make you incredibly popular if you take it round someone’s house for tea. Do it.

Heston Blumenthal’s perfect treacle tart (an easy 10 slices):

For the vanilla salt:

Seeds from 2 plump vanilla pods

50g sea salt

  1. Work the seeds into the salt with your fingers and leave to infuse until you’re ready to serve.

For the pastry:

400g plain flour

1 heaped teaspoon table salt

400g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

100g icing sugar

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

2 large egg yolks (about 40g)

2 large eggs (about 120g)

  1. Tip the flour and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Given the amount of butter, you may need to add and rub it in in batches.
  2. Quickly stir in the icing sugar, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. Add the egg yolks and the whole eggs, and mix until combined. Tip onto a sheet of clingfilm, wrap it up and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150°C.
  4. Dust a piece of greaseproof paper with flour. Take the pastry out of the fridge and remove the clingfilm. Place the pastry on the greaseproof paper. Cut off about one third of the dough and reserve in case it is needed to patch holes in the pastry base. (If unused, it can be frozen or baked as biscuits.) Shake over more flour, then top with a second piece of greaseproof paper. Begin to roll the pastry flat, moving the pin from the centre outwards. Turn the pastry 90 degrees every few rolls. Aim for a thickness of 3mm–5mm, and a diameter of 45cm–50cm. Once the pastry is rolled out to the correct thickness, peel off the top layer of greaseproof paper, trim off any excess, then wind the pastry onto the rolling pin, removing the other layer of paper as you go. Unwind the pastry over the flan tin and gently push it into the base and sides. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Once the pastry has firmed up, remove it from the fridge. Prick the base with a fork to stop it puffing up. Take a fresh piece of greaseproof paper, scrunch it up and smooth it out several times (this makes it easier to put in position), then place it over the pastry base. Put baking beans or, even better, coins on top. Return the lined pastry case to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the case from the fridge and put it in the oven to bake for 25–30 minutes, until the pastry is a light, golden brown. If, after removing the beans or coins, the base is slightly tacky, return the case to the oven for 10–15 minutes.

For the filling:

400g loaf of brown bread, whizzed to crumbs

200g unsalted butter

3 large eggs

75ml double cream

2 teaspoons table salt

900g tin of golden syrup (age this by placing in the lowest your oven will go for at least 24 hours)

Zest of 3 lemons

Juice of 2 lemons

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Make a beurre noisette by putting the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter stops sizzling (a sign that the water has all evaporated, after which it will soon burn) and develops a nutty aroma, remove it from the heat. Strain it into a jug and leave to cool. Discard the blackened solids left in the sieve.
  3. Put the eggs, cream and salt in a bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.
  4. Pour the golden syrup into a pan and heat gently until liquid. Pour the beurre noisette into the warmed syrup, and stir. (Try to avoid tipping in any sediment that may have collected at the bottom of the jug.)
  5. Pour the buttery syrup into the egg and cream mixture. Stir in the breadcrumbs and the lemon zest and juice.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a large jug. Pour two-thirds of it into the pastry case. Slide the tart into the oven and pour in the remainder of the filling. Bake for 50–60 minutes, or until the tart is a deep brown colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before taking out of the tin.
  7. Serve the treacle tart with a few grains of vanilla salt sprinkled on top, and with a good dollop of clotted cream.

23 comments

  • When you say place the golden syrup in the oven to age for 24 hours, do you mean inside the sealed tin, in the tin without lid or poured into a baking dish?

    And what temperature is low enough?

    🙂

    • These are very good questions Kavey, how lax of me!

      The tin was sealed (remove the plastic ring though just in case). I put it on a baking tray on a piece of foil just in case of spillages. I don’t have his book to hand, but I went for 60C.

      I should also point out that once ‘aged’ you can store the tin indefinitely. The point of this gentle heating is to replicate the ageing that the lucky swine discovered when Tate & Lyle gave him a tin of 80 year old syrup. You could leave the tin in the oven for up to 100 hours says Heston.

      How’s that? 🙂

  • Holy Shit Gary – I love treacle tart and this looks amazing mate. I’ve got the book, I’ve got to make this.

  • Harumf. I don’t believe there’s any place for lemon in a treacle tart. Healthy fruit sop, fie upon it! Takes up valuable space that could be used by more treacle/breadcrumbs, if you ask me!

    • I disagree. The rich supersweetness gets a wonderful edge from the citrus, giving the combined flavour a whole ‘nother level. Give it a try!

  • Those muffins look as flat as a fart!

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  • Oh my word this looks like school dinner- come- mum’s cooking- come- very very bad for you. Which obviously equals perfection. Unfortunately that also means the type of thing that I would be far too scared to try in fear of eating the whole thing. Maybe a special occassion when there are a lot of people around to stop this inevitability…
    All in all, it just looks delicious- love the dollop of clotted cream 🙂
    Robyn
    Manchester, UK

    • It really is a belter of a recipe, and yes could eat miles of it. So save it for when it’s your turn to take dessert round to someone else’s and scoop the glory!

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  • What sort of size tin/dish did you use as a whole loaf of bread (albeit a 400g one), and 900g of syrup, plus eggs etc seems a lot of filling? Did you have any filling left over?

    • I use a flan dish that’s about 30cm in diameter. I’ve made this a few times and there can be a bit leftover, but this is no bad thing 🙂

      The original recipe calls for 900g loaf, I’ve cut it down because that’s an insane amount of bread.

  • I tried making this and it was partly a success, but Heston’s pastry is so high in butter content that the sides of the pastry case collapsed when baking, so that it ended up looking like what happened here: http://macarongg.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/heston-blumenthals-treacle-tart-with.html (not my blog). This obviously didn’t happen to yours. Can I ask what you did?

    • Hi Andy

      Not sure what’s happened here, and odd as it’s happened to you and someone else independently. I didn’t do anything special that I can recall but off the top of my head was the pastry rested in the fridge? Was the tin the recommended size?

  • Have tasted this in a pub in Devon – it was my first experience of treacle tart and wow! will try it very soon – Are you sure about your “skillet-like furnaces hands”??? The pastry looks amazing, and with this proportion of flour to butter is really hard to work! (says the one with Iceberg hands…)
    Am glad I found your blog!

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  • I have made all the treacle tart recipes and until recently settled on Nigel Slater’s for the best syrup/crumb ratio. But boy oh boy does our Heston hit the spot with balance and complexity! It’s sweet, it’s salty and it’s sour. It’s bang on, that’s what it is.

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