Category Archives: Tarts

Making Treacle Tart

Harry Potter fans in the US may be surprised to know that this sugar pie has been around a whole lot longer than J.K. Rowling. As I discussed last week, it’s an ancient treat older than Dumbledore…even Hogwarts I’ll venture. A good treacle tart is sweet and lemony with just a hint of ginger spice. Served in a small slice — which is all anyone needs of something so sugary — it makes a soothing treat on a cold day.

Like most tarts it’s not the filling that takes the time, it’s the crust. To make this you’ll need one recipe savory tart crust (this tart is sweet enough) rolled and pre-baked for fifteen minutes with the foil and weights, ten without. You want it baked but not browned. You’ll have extra dough when you’re done. Freeze it and save it for another purpose.

Once the crust is ready it’s pretty much all down hill. Combine your filling ingredients save for the bread crumbs in a bowl. Some people like to add a few tablespoons of molasses for a darker color. In fact the whole thing can be made with a light molasses, just not blackstrap (stroop) which is inedible in pie form.

Stir.

Sprinkle half the crumbs (or rolled oats) into the prepared crust.

Pour in the sweet stuff.

Then the last of the crumbs.

And bake for half an hour until it’s bubbling and risen in the center.

Done! I should add that you should check the crust after the first fifteen minutes. If it’s just the right color brown, curl some strips of aluminum foil over the exposed crust to stop it from getting any darker.

Allow the tart to cool for two hours. Serve to your favorite muggles. Oh, and with lightly whipped cream. That’s a must with a tart that’s this sweet.

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Treacle Tart Recipe

While we’re making candy in a crust, I think a little treacle tart is in order as well, don’t you? There are a lot of contemporary recipes that add things like cream and eggs, but as with the shoo-fly pie recipe below, I like the more traditional and/rustic version. You’ll need:

1 recipe savory tart crust
16 ounces (1 1/3 cups) golden syrup or light molasses
3 ounces (1 cup) fresh bread crumbs or (1/2 cup) rolled oats
zest of 1 lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Line the a 9-inch tart pan with the pastry (reserving the scraps) and let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line the pastry with lightly oiled aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights. Be sure to leave enough extra foil to curve over the lip of the pan so as to protect the crust. After fifteen minutes gently remove the foils and the weights and bake the crust uncovered for ten more minutes, until there are no greasy-looking spots.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice and ginger. Sprinkle half the crumbs (or oats) on the bottom of the crust. Pour the filling over, then sprinkle on the rest of the crumbs (or oats). Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot or cold with whipped cream on the side if you desire.

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How to Make a Pear Tart

My, I’ve put up a lot of pictures this week, haven’t I? Normally my keyboard runneth over. This week though, I’ve posted about five separate tutorials on everything from poaching pears to almond cream to crust rolling and pre-baking. It’s taken quite a while to get here, in other words — so let’s bake us a tart!

I should say that in the best of all possible worlds, the crust of this tart wouldn’t have gotten so dark. It turns out I inadvertently broke the cardinal rule of tart baking: protect the crust! I’ll tell you exactly how that happened as we move along.

To make this you’ll need one recipe sweet tart crust rolled and pre-baked, seven canned or poached pear halves and a recipe of frangipane.

To assemble your pear tart, have your canned or poached pears ready and waiting, along with a sharp knife and a cutting board. Have the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. Begin by laying down about a 1/4-inch layer of almond cream on your pre-baked crust.

Now for the pears. Place one of the halves cut-side down on a cutting board, a good, sharp knife at the ready.

Slowly and carefully, slice the pear cross-wise into roughly 1/8-inch slices.

Without moving the pear — but instead by moving the cutting board — rotate the fruit to a convenient angle, place your hand gently over the slices to steady them, and slip the knife underneath the whole lot:

Then gently lay your index finger down onto the slices so that they splay forward slightly…

…and slip the pear into place on the almond cream. Easy!

Arrange them like so, being sure to lay your smallest pear (or one with some of the end slices removed) smack in the center. What happens if you don’t put a pear in the very middle? A thick blob of almond cream will collect there, one which will almost certainly remain underbaked and watery. Blech. Take my advice on this, you won’t be sorry.

But wait, Joe! There are only seven pear halves on that tart! Doesn’t your poached pear recipe make eight? Yes, Ms. Observant, you’re right about that. However I’m an uptight personality and I like symmetry. Also, sneaking downstairs to enjoy a cold poached pear half in the middle of the night is one of the few private pleasures that I, a married guy with two small kids, have left. Get off my back!

Put the tart in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. Now, about that mistake I mentioned. The thing I did wrong in assembling this tart was to forget, since I made all my components at least a day ahead of time, they were all refrigerator-cold. That caused the pears and almond cream to bake up more slowly that I expected, giving the crust more time to bake…actually over-bake. Solve the problem by either making your tart all in one day, or letting all your components come to room temperature before baking.

Now, to make the glaze. Some people glaze their tarts with strained apple or apricot preserves. The way I see it, though, you’ve got a quart or so of perfectly good poaching liquid there, why not put it to use? Start by straining a cup of it into a small saucepan and setting it over medium-high heat. You want to reduce it down to about a quarter cup.

Meantime, put about a tablespoon of the liquid in a small bowl and add a teaspoon of cornstarch (corn flour).

Stir it up with a fork.

When the liquid in the saucepan has reduced, add the starch slurry, stir it in and return the pan to the heat.

Bring it to a rolling boil for only fifteen or twenty seconds, and it will be nice and thick…

…almost jam-like.

When the tart is finished (it should take about half an hour to get the almond cream nice and brown), let it cool for about another half an hour, then paint the glaze over the pears. Let the tart cool completely (about two hours) before serving.

Ah yes, the lovely look of a nice slice of pear tart. Elegant yet rustic at the same time. Just my cup of tea.

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