Make a Traditional Treacle Tart

Golden syrup is associated with some of our favourite desserts – like treacle pudding and our traditional treacle tart. This British legend, a by-product of refining sugar-cane, dates back to the late 19th century. And it’s inspired a range of recipes ever since. Originally invented as a way to use up loaf ends, Treacle Tart has become a firm favourite. Try our simple recipe and find out what all the fuss is about!

About Treacle Tart

Treacle Tart was, and still is, an ingenious way to use up breadcrumbs – a happily frugal dessert for British cooks. Mrs Beeton’s version contained just golden syrup, white breadcrumbs and lemon juice. But since its origination, Treacle Tart has been presented and interpreted by dozens of modern cooks – from Delia Smith to Heston Blumenthal, who sprinkles vanilla-infused salt grains over the top of his creamy, contemporary version. You can make yours with golden syrup, treacle, wholemeal or white breadcrumbs – but start by trying our simple recipe, below.

Make Traditional Treacle Tart

The traditional treacle tart contains stale breadcrumbs, into which are soaked lashings of golden syrup. Modern recipes for Treacle Tart sometimes contain eggs and cream, giving the filling a softer set. It’s the chewy, dense filling that makes treacle tart best eaten on the day it’s cooked.

You will need a sweet shortcrust pastry case to begin – find the recipe in Making Sweet Tarts. Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ by pricking the base and lining it with greaseproof paper, filling it with dried beans or weights, and baking at 200ºC for ten minutes. Then remove the lining and cool the case a little before proceeding with the filling.

To Make The filling:
  • 225g (8oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 120ml (4fl oz) golden syrup (8 generous tablespoons)
  • ½ a lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground ginger (optional)

It’s best to use fresh breadcrumbs here, as they will absorb less moisture and result in a softer tart. You can make your own from the end of a loaf: just whiz in a food processor, or finely chop by hand. Note: If nobody in your family likes the end pieces of your daily loaf, then get into the habit of putting these into the freezer. When you’ve got enough you can let them thaw in a clean tea-towel, then whiz them up and make treacle tart!

Tip the breadcrumbs into a bowl and warm the golden syrup in a pan over gentle heat. Pour it over the breadcrumbs, add the pinch of salt, and stir until everything is well combined. Zest the lemon half over the bowl, and add 2tsp of juice. You can also add a pinch of ground ginger at this stage, if liked.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC, and put in a baking sheet to warm up. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry case, and slide it onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, when the filling should be softly set and the pastry should be golden. Make sure you cool it before slicing because the syrup gets very hot indeed. Serve with vanilla Ice-cream and, if liked, a sparse sprinkle of coarse salt!

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