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Traditional Treacle Tart

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A buttery, flaky pastry crust is filled with a sweet and gooey lemon-infused filling, this traditional Treacle Tart recipe features one of Great Britain’s most famous desserts at its best!

I also have a Gluten Free Treacle Tart so that nobody needs to forego this delicious dessert!

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A traditional British dessert, don’t be fooled by its simple list of ingredients and simple appearance – Treacle Tart is irresistibly delicious!

What is Treacle Tart?

Treacle tart is a sweet pastry consisting of a buttery shortcrust base and a gooey filling made from treacle (aka golden syrup), breadcrumbs and lemon zest.

The first mention of a treacle tart recipe dates back to a 19th century cookbook by English author Mary Jewry.  Since that original recipe treacle tart has commonly included the added ingredients of cream and eggs to create a softer, more luxurious filling.  Treacle tart is a quintessential British teatime dessert.

And for you Harry Potter fans out there, treacle tart also happens to be Harry’s favorite dessert.

treacle tart recipe best traditional English British pastry tea shortcrust shortbread butter lard golden syrup

My first encounter with treacle tart was an ominous one.  I was a young kid in Germany watching the classic film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  You may be familiar with the scene where the thoroughly creepy Child Catcher of Vulgaria, a land where all children are banned, disguises his child cage as a candy shop on wheels and goes prancing around the village chanting, “Lollipops, chocolates, cherry pie, cream puffs, ice cream and treacle tart!  All free today!”  At that the children lose all resistance: “Treacle tart?Ice cream??  And all free!!” and come dashing out of their hiding place only to get snatched by the evil child catcher.

A few years later I moved to England and I had the chance to sample it for the first time.  And for the first time I also understood why the promise of treacle tart was such a powerful lure to those unsuspecting children in that childhood film – it’s irresistibly delicious!

treacle tart recipe best traditional English British pastry tea shortcrust shortbread butter lard golden syrup

What is Golden Syrup?

The term “treacle” in treacle tart refers to the primary ingredient, golden syrup (also referred to as light treacle.  There is also dark treacle which is molasses.)  Golden syrup is an indispensable ingredient when it comes to making a number of traditional British recipes and of course there is no treacle tart without it.

Golden syrup is a thick amber-colored inverted sugar syrup that’s made with sugar, water and citric acid.  It has a deep caramelized, buttery flavor and has been a staple in British kitchens for over a century.

Can I Use Karo Syrup Instead of Golden Syrup?

No, they are not the same.  The ingredients, the process, the flavor and the texture are different.

Corn syrup (whether light or dark) isn’t as thick and it basically tastes like thick sugar water, lacking any depth of flavor (many people, including myself, think its cloyingly, sickly sweet).  In contrast, golden syrup is thicker and has very deep caramelized, buttery, and complex flavor notes.  There is no equivalent in the U.S. and substituting corn syrup will not yield the same flavor results.

But have no fear if you’re unable to locate golden syrup at your local store!  You can also buy it here on Amazon or…drum roll…you can easily make your own!

Check out our tutorial on how to make Golden Syrup!

golden syrup how to make homemade recipe light treacle Lyle's copycat British English

As with most things, If you’ve only ever had store-bought treacle tart, let me tell you – you’ve GOT to try homemade because NOTHING compares to it!  The flavor and texture of homemade is far superior in every way.  Trust me, homemade is a total game changer.

Try this homemade Treacle Tart and we’re confident you’re going to fall in love with it!

treacle tart recipe best traditional English British pastry tea shortcrust shortbread butter lard golden syrup

Treacle Tart Recipe

Let’s get started!

First make the fresh breadcrumbs and set them aside until ready to use.  Be sure to make your own from fresh bread;  ready-made, store-bought breadcrumbs will not produce the same flavor.   Use fresh bread and either let it sit out for one day or toast the slices and then pulse them in a food processor.

Next let’s make the shortcrust pastry (i.e. pie crust).

How to Make Shortcrust Pastry

For the absolutely BEST, most FLAKY pastry you need to use some lard.  Can you substitute all butter?  Yes.  But for the flakiest results we highly recommend some good old-fashioned lard.  Check out our tutorial on how to render lard (it’s super easy)!

Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend.  Next add the cold butter and lard.

Pulse a few more times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the water a little at a time, pulsing between additions, until the mixture begins to come together. DO NOT over-mix the dough or the pastry crust will be tough and won’t be flaky.

The mixture is done when it resembles large streusel-like crumbs and when you take some and press it between your fingers it will hold together.

Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. (The shortcrust pastry can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the pastry dough.  I find it easiest to roll it out onto plastic wrap, it makes transferring it to the tart pan easy.

Roll the pastry dough out so that there’s a little excess around all sides of the tart pan (it will shrink when baked).  You will need a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (also commonly called quiche pans).

Carefully place the pastry crust into the tart pan and pierce it multiple times with a fork.

Next we’re going to blind bake the crust.  To do this line the pastry crust with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or similar (I’m using dried cherry pits that I saved when canning cherries a while ago).

Place the tart on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the crust is a very pale golden.

How to Make the Treacle Filling

While the shortcrust is baking prepare the filling.

Place the golden syrup, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.   Heat the syrup until hot and runny and then stir in the breadcrumbs.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

Lightly beat the egg and cream together with a fork.  Pour the egg/cream mixture into the saucepan with the treacle mixture and stir quickly to combine.

Pour the hot mixture into the tart crust.

Place the tart on the middle shelf of the oven (still heated at 375 degrees F) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is nicely browned.

Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool.

Treacle tart is traditionally served warm with clotted cream, whipped cream, ice cream, or custard.

Enjoy!

treacle tart recipe best traditional English British pastry tea shortcrust shortbread butter lard golden syrup

If you’re gluten-free be sure to check out our Gluten Free Treacle Tart recipe!

For more delicious traditional British treats, be sure to try our:

treacle tart recipe best traditional English British pastry tea shortcrust shortbread butter lard golden syrup

Traditional Treacle Tart

Great Britain's famous dessert featuring a buttery, flaky pastry crust with a sweet and gooey lemon-infused filling!
5 from 147 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Pastry Crust Chill Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Dessert, Tea
Cuisine British, english
Servings 8
Calories 378 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • For the Shortcrust Pastry:
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled
  • 5 tablespoons lard , chilled
  • How to Render Lard (click link check out our tutorial on how to easily make your own lard!)
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water
  • For the Treacle Filling:
  • 1 1/4 cups golden syrup
  • Homemade Golden Syrup (click the link for the recipe to make your own!)
  • grated zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (do not use store-bought. Use fresh bread and either let it sit out for one day or toast the slices and then pulse them in a food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 egg

Instructions
 

  • For the Shortcrust Pastry:
    Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend.  Next add the cold butter and lard. Pulse a few more times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water a little at a time, pulsing between additions, until the mixture begins to come together. DO NOT over-mix the dough or the pastry crust will be tough and won't be flaky.
    The mixture is done when it resembles large streusel-like crumbs and when you take some and press it between your fingers it will hold together.
    Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. (The shortcrust pastry can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    Roll out the pastry dough.  I find it easiest to roll it out on to plastic wrap, it makes transferring it to the tart pan easy. Roll the pastry dough out so that there's a little excess around all sides of the tart pan (it will shrink when baked). 
    You will need a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (also commonly called quiche pans).
    Carefully place the pastry crust into the tart pan and pierce it multiple times with a fork.
    Line the pastry crust with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or similar.
    Place the tart on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
    Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the crust is a very pale golden.
  • For the treacle filling: While the shortcrust is baking prepare the filling.
    Place the golden syrup, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.   Heat the syrup until hot and runny and then stir in the breadcrumbs.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
    Lightly beat the egg and cream together with a fork. Pour the egg/cream mixture into the saucepan with the treacle mixture and stir quickly to combine.
    Pour the hot mixture into the tart crust.
    Place the tart on the middle shelf of the oven (still heated at 375 degreesF) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is nicely browned.
    Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool.
  • Treacle tart is traditionally served warm with clotted cream, whipped cream, or custard. You can also serve it with ice cream.

Nutrition

Calories: 378kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 227mgPotassium: 75mgFiber: 2gSugar: 43gVitamin A: 795IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Treacle Tart
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet May 13, 2020

kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating




5 from 147 votes (121 ratings without comment)

80 Comments

  1. This was a delightful journey back to my childhood. My mum wasn’t much of a baker but my friend’s grandmum two houses down used to make this on occasion and it was such a welcome treat every time she did. This brought back wonderful memories for me, thank you for this splendid recipe.

  2. This was absolutely delicious! I already had golden syrup on hand so used that. I made this treacle tart for our ladies book club and everyone loved it.

  3. Really really nice treacle tart and I even made the homemade golden syrup. It was very easy to make and had a lovely flavor. The kids and husband all commented on how much they enjoyed the tart. Thank you.

  4. This was so yummy! I’ve only ever had this from the store and bakery in the UK and this was my first time making it. The texture is so lovely with the syrup and bread crumbs and the shortcrust is so nice and buttery and flaky. Absolutely delicious, thank you for this taste of home!

  5. This made a beautiful and absolutely delicious treacle tart. Love your website and your recipes, they’ve not failed me once.

    1. Hi James, 1 1/4 cups or 450 grams is enough but depending on the particular breadcrumbs you used you can probably add an additional tablespoon or two. Some breadcrumbs will absorb more liquid than others and so the mixture will appear drier, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs more golden syrup.

  6. Absolutely delicious! This brought back so many memories and frankly was even better than I had remembered it. Will be making this again. Thank you very much.

  7. The pastry was good, the tart as a dish was quite nice, but it didn’t taste much like treacle or golden syrup. When using the homemade golden syrup recipe which already had a very unfamiliar citrus taste, and the juice and skin of a whole lemon in the tart as well, i honestly couldn’t taste ‘golden syrup’ at all. I grew up as a Tate & Lyles golden syrup maniac, and i couldn’t get enough of treacle sponge (that gorgeous soft spongey steamed pudding with a lake of GS at the bottom that when you turned it out, poured down the sides like a golden volcano.

    This was a million miles away from that flavour, and tasted more like lemon meringue. Honestly, if that was what we were going for, then I’d have enjoyed it, but when you think you’re getting one thing and you get something completely different, then you can’t help but feel the disappointment.

    I have to say that I like the look of this website and can’t wait to try the Cornish recipe as It’s been years since I’ve had one… so, I’m not trolling but both this and the GS were not what I was expecting.

    1. Hi Andrew, I’m sorry that this wasn’t what you expected. It sounds like your reasons center around using the homemade golden syrup. Please note that store-bought syrup uses industrial equipment that cannot be replicated at home. The homemade golden syrup isn’t meant to be – nor can it be – an exact replica of the commercial product. Rather, it is meant to be a substitute for individuals who either don’t live in an area where they can conveniently access Tate & Lyle or who’d rather make a version themselves that, while not tasting exactly the same, is nevertheless a tasty substitute. As for the lemon flavor, as I note in the golden syrup recipe, that can be avoided by using the citric acid option instead. If you’re looking for the traditional taste treacle tart that you know from times past, I recommend using Tate & Lyle’s with this treacle tart recipe.

  8. I remember treacle tart from growing up in England and loved it. I forgot all about it til it was mentioned in a book I’m reading, now I want to make it for my Canadian hubby. We can get golden syrup here, so that’s not a problem. However my pastry leaves a lot to be desired. Do you think a frozen pie shell would be an ok substitute?

  9. A similar combination of golden syrup and lemon is found in Pennsylvania Dutch Montomery pie. And golden syrup is available (Turkey brand comes to mind) and King Syrup.

  10. If I go the “all butter” route instead of using lard, how much more butter should I be substituting for the lard? Thank you!

    1. Hi Cara, dark treacle is essentially the same thing as molasses and that much molasses would be extremely overpowering. I don’t recommend using any dark treacle, stick with the light stuff.