If Julia Roberts ever comes for dinner (a la that great scene in Notting Hill), I know just what to make.
Apparently, our Jules is dead keen on treacle tart. Tamasin Day-Lewis reckons that “when Julia Roberts comes to stay she drools over it, and busies herself making and twisting the pastry lattice for the top”.
This makes me want to slap Tamasin in the face with a wet dishcloth, but her book, The Art of the Tart, was my random selection for this month’s Random Recipe challenge. Shameless namedropping aside, TAOTT is a lovely book. I must confess to cheating a tiny bit on the actual recipe selection – the first one was for Fig Tart with Tobacco Syrup and I baulked at the thought of buying pipe tobacco, let alone eating it.
I didn’t have Julia Roberts on hand to make a lattice top for my tart so I went without. I think it would be a bit much anyway, though I did follow Tamasin’s advice and use wholemeal flour to contrast with the diabetes-inducing sweetness of the filling. Don’t be alarmed by the lengthy instructions – you can make the pastry the night before and the filling is really easy, even if you don’t have an Oscar winner to help.
120g wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
2Tbsp cold water
450g golden syrup (about half a tin)
30g butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
2-3Tbsp double cream
grated zest of two lemons
4 heaped Tbsp brown breadcrumbs
Put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and blitz for 20 seconds, then dribble the water and cream through the top, one tablespoon at a time. Stop the processor when the mixture forms a ball, take it out, flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To roll it out, flour a cold worksurface, your rolling pin and your hands, and start rolling. “Roll away from yourself, turning the pastry as you go,” instructs Tamasin. When it’s big enough, roll it over the rolling pin and lie it gently in a greased 23cm tart tin (I used a 23cm springform cake tin as my tart tin has gone walkabout). Don’t stretch it. Put it back in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes to rest. Tamasin says you can do this the night before, bless her.
To bake, preheat the oven to 190C. Bake the pastry blind (line the case with baking paper, tip dried beans or rice on top) for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans, prick with a fork and bake for another five minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 180C.
Warm the syrup gently, then, off the heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Beat together the cream and egg and add to the syrup, with the lemon zest and breadcrumbs. Stir to mix evenly, then pour into the pastry crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the filling has set to a sort of gel. Leave for 20-30 minutes before serving warm with clotted cream or Greek yoghurt. Serves 6-8.