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Treacle Slice

by . Featured in KITCHEN
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Introduction

Much as I adore a proper, old-fashioned treacle tart, when my need is greatest I’m less likely to have the energy and patience required for rolling out pastry neatly and all that goes with it. This is where this treacle slice comes in: you simply throw everything for the dough into a processor if you have one (and if you don’t, it’s still no trouble) then press it into a shallow oblong tin, pop it into the oven, and stir up the syrup, butter, breadcrumbs and egg while it bakes until ready to receive the sweet nubbly topping.

For those unfamiliar with treacle tart, I should explain that it’s Golden Syrup that’s actually the key ingredient; if you can’t get hold of it where you are, I dare say you could use honey, but I urge you to seek the authentic ingredient, often known abroad just as Lyle’s. I have to be strict about using homemade breadcrumbs (see the intro to the Queen of Puddings, and I suggest you start with 200g of bread) and I find it more accurate to use American cup measures for this (you need 2 and a quarter cups) or fill a measuring jug up to the 550ml rather than weighing them. And yes, I know that’s a lot of breadcrumbs, but once they’ve soaked up the buttery, lemony syrup, what you get is a gorgeous chewiness, more fluffy than heavy. And if the topping is temple-achingly sweet, the base is plain to the point of dourness: that is exactly how a treacle tart should always be.

This brings me to the clotted cream, my accompaniment of choice here: mad though it sounds, its lusciousness seems to temper the sweetness with cool efficiency. Still, those who’d prefer to eat this not as a cream-topped slice, but swathed with custard and spooned out of a bowl will not find any argument from me. And there is definitely a good case to be made for vanilla ice cream alongside, too.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Much as I adore a proper, old-fashioned treacle tart, when my need is greatest I’m less likely to have the energy and patience required for rolling out pastry neatly and all that goes with it. This is where this treacle slice comes in: you simply throw everything for the dough into a processor if you have one (and if you don’t, it’s still no trouble) then press it into a shallow oblong tin, pop it into the oven, and stir up the syrup, butter, breadcrumbs and egg while it bakes until ready to receive the sweet nubbly topping.

For those unfamiliar with treacle tart, I should explain that it’s Golden Syrup that’s actually the key ingredient; if you can’t get hold of it where you are, I dare say you could use honey, but I urge you to seek the authentic ingredient, often known abroad just as Lyle’s. I have to be strict about using homemade breadcrumbs (see the intro to the Queen of Puddings, and I suggest you start with 200g of bread) and I find it more accurate to use American cup measures for this (you need 2 and a quarter cups) or fill a measuring jug up to the 550ml rather than weighing them. And yes, I know that’s a lot of breadcrumbs, but once they’ve soaked up the buttery, lemony syrup, what you get is a gorgeous chewiness, more fluffy than heavy. And if the topping is temple-achingly sweet, the base is plain to the point of dourness: that is exactly how a treacle tart should always be.

This brings me to the clotted cream, my accompaniment of choice here: mad though it sounds, its lusciousness seems to temper the sweetness with cool efficiency. Still, those who’d prefer to eat this not as a cream-topped slice, but swathed with custard and spooned out of a bowl will not find any argument from me. And there is definitely a good case to be made for vanilla ice cream alongside, too.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Treacle Slice
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Makes: 16 slices

Metric Cups

For the base

  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 50 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 50 grams vegetable shortening (such as Trex)
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon lemon juice (reserve zest for the topping)
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons iced water

For the topping

  • 1 x 454 grams tin golden syrup
  • 25 grams soft unsalted butter
  • approx. 150g (enough to come up to the 550ml mark in a measuring jug) of fresh breadcrumbs
  • zest of lemon (from the lemon used in the base)
  • 1 egg (beaten)

For the base

  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (reserve zest for the topping)
  • 2 tablespoons iced water

For the topping

  • 1 x 1 pound tin golden syrup or light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 2⅓ cups of fresh breadcrumbs
  • zest of lemon (from the lemon used in the base)
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Method

You will need a foil tray or baking tin, approx. 30 x 20 x 5cm / 13 x 9 x 2 in

  1. It's best to start with the breadcrumbage, as per the recipe intro above.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180℃/160℃ Fan/350°F.
  3. Put the flour, 50g / 4 tablespoons butter and vegetable shortening for the base into a food processor and blitz until you have a crumbly rubble.
  4. Combine the lemon juice and iced water and pour down the funnel with the engine running until the mixture clumps together, making a pale, damp dough.
  5. Press this dough into the bottom of your foil tray/baking tin, using the back of a metal spoon or your hands to make a relatively smooth, even base. You will think you haven't haven't got enough dough, but I promise you, you have. Go slowly and patiently until you have a thin, even covering. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, melt the golden syrup and 25g / 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy-based saucepan on a low heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs, not worrying that you appear to have a thick, sawdusty, sticky mixture.
  7. Take the pan off the heat, allow to cool a little, then add the lemon zest and beat in the egg. Pour the mixture over the cooked pastry base and put back into the oven for 20 minutes.
  8. When it's ready, the filling should have risen slightly and look as if it is just about set: dry at the edges, but with the promise of stickiness at the centre.
  9. Take out of the oven and leave to cool only a little: this must be sliced and is best eaten while still fragrantly warm.

You will need a foil tray or baking tin, approx. 30 x 20 x 5cm / 13 x 9 x 2 in

  1. It's best to start with the breadcrumbage, as per the recipe intro above.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180℃/160℃ Fan/350°F.
  3. Put the flour, 50g / 4 tablespoons butter and vegetable shortening for the base into a food processor and blitz until you have a crumbly rubble.
  4. Combine the lemon juice and iced water and pour down the funnel with the engine running until the mixture clumps together, making a pale, damp dough.
  5. Press this dough into the bottom of your foil tray/baking tin, using the back of a metal spoon or your hands to make a relatively smooth, even base. You will think you haven't haven't got enough dough, but I promise you, you have. Go slowly and patiently until you have a thin, even covering. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, melt the golden syrup or light corn syrup and 25g / 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy-based saucepan on a low heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs, not worrying that you appear to have a thick, sawdusty, sticky mixture.
  7. Take the pan off the heat, allow to cool a little, then add the lemon zest and beat in the egg. Pour the mixture over the cooked pastry base and put back into the oven for 20 minutes.
  8. When it's ready, the filling should have risen slightly and look as if it is just about set: dry at the edges, but with the promise of stickiness at the centre.
  9. Take out of the oven and leave to cool only a little: this must be sliced and is best eaten while still fragrantly warm.

Additional Information

TO MAKE BY HAND RATHER THAN USING A PROCESSOR:
For the pastry without the food processor you should rub both fats into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the water and lemon juice and stir this, a tablespoon at a time, into the flour mixture until it starts to form damp clumps. Then tip this into the baking tin and press into place. It may be easier if the fats are chilled first as the heat from your fingers will start to soften it.

For breadcrumbs by hand you need to grate them on a box grater (using the side that is for nutmeg/zest) or you can also blitz them in a blender.

MAKE AHEAD:
The slice can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool in tin and cover with clingfilm then refrigerate. Reheat in oven preheated to 180C/160C Fan for 20 minutes, or until warmed through. Leftovers can be kept in fridge, covered in clingfilm, for 2-3 days.

FREEZE:
The slice can be frozen in its tin, wrapped tightly in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat as above.

TO MAKE BY HAND RATHER THAN USING A PROCESSOR:
For the pastry without the food processor you should rub both fats into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the water and lemon juice and stir this, a tablespoon at a time, into the flour mixture until it starts to form damp clumps. Then tip this into the baking tin and press into place. It may be easier if the fats are chilled first as the heat from your fingers will start to soften it.

For breadcrumbs by hand you need to grate them on a box grater (using the side that is for nutmeg/zest) or you can also blitz them in a blender.

MAKE AHEAD:
The slice can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool in tin and cover with clingfilm then refrigerate. Reheat in oven preheated to 180C/160C Fan for 20 minutes, or until warmed through. Leftovers can be kept in fridge, covered in clingfilm, for 2-3 days.

FREEZE:
The slice can be frozen in its tin, wrapped tightly in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat as above.

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