golden oldie




won­der what it would be like eat­ing a pud­ding that peo­ple en­joyed more than 100 years ago? I do and sev­eral sweet treats spring to mind — Vic­to­ria sponge, spot­ted dick and jam fan­cies. No list would be com­plete, how­ever, with­out that most ven­er­a­ble of Bri­tish pud­dings, the trea­cle tart. My grand­mother, Gramma Alv­ina, lauded in my pre­vi­ous col­umns for her prow­ess at mak­ing ap­ple pie and her abil­ity to bal­ance a smol­der­ing rol­lie on her lips while work­ing the pas­try, used to bake it oc­ca­sion­ally. She al­ways man­aged to sneak a lit­tle ‘Alv­ina magic’ into her ef­forts and, in this case, she would add a pinch of bak­ing pow­der to the pas­try. Too young to com­pre­hend the chem­istry, I agreed with con­tented mouth­fuls that she had an in­tu­itive light­ness of touch when it came to mak­ing pas­try. Nev­er­the­less, Gramma’s trea­cle tart was a tri­umph, as she bal­anced the crumbly tex­ture of the fill­ing with a sturdy outer shell that frac­tured eas­ily with a gen­tle nudge from a spoon. For years, Gramma Alv­ina’s trea­cle tart was my bench­mark and the thought of not be­ing able to pro­duce a tart of this cal­i­bre thwarted any at­tempts to make it. It wasn’t un­til fairly re­cently that I gave it a crack and fea­tured the es­teemed tart on the side­board of daily cake of­fer­ings in the café. To my sur­prise and relief, it looked and tasted great. And, more im­por­tantly per­haps, it sold briskly and peo­ple even asked when they could ex­pect it again. I learnt two lessons from this ex­er­cise. Firstly, food fash­ions come and go but clas­sics will al­ways re­main, and se­condly, a sim­ple tart done well is a peren­nial favourite. So the trea­cle tart be­gan to make reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances un­der the heavy glass domes on the cake counter, while I tried to bal­ance sat­is­fy­ing my cus­tomers’ re­quests for it with keep­ing de­mand alive by fea­tur­ing it spo­rad­i­cally. (With this ad­mis­sion I’ve given you, dear reader, a brief in­sight into the dark arts of the cake dis­play. How­ever, in my case it’s more pru­dence pre­vail­ing than Machi­avel­lian mis­chievous­ness!) So what is the se­cret to the en­dur­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the trea­cle tart? Per­son­ally, I love the sim­plic­ity of it: pas­try, sweet fill­ing and a crumbly tex­ture. All it needs is a good dol­lop of heavy cream with which to en­joy it. How­ever, I do find the tra­di­tional trea­cle tart a tad sweet, which is why my recipe in­cludes orange mar­malade (al­though any cit­rus mar­malade will do). The mar­malade coun­ters the cloy­ing sweet­ness of the golden syrup, the main in­gre­di­ent in the fill­ing. The funny thing is, my em­bel­lish­ment is ac­tu­ally a throw­back to the tart’s first in­car­na­tions, where mar­malade was some­times sub­sti­tuted for golden syrup if the tin was empty. It’s in­cred­i­ble to think that this recipe has changed so lit­tle since the late 1800s that peo­ple of Vic­to­rian times would in­stantly recog­nise the trea­cle tart we en­joy to­day. Now that’s some­thing to pon­der.

Steve Cumper is a chef and fun­ny­man who lives in Tas­ma­nia and dreams of one day own­ing a fleet of hol­i­day vans called Wicked Cumpers.


1 ta­ble­spoon caster sugar 1⅓ cups golden syrup 1½ cups coarse bread­crumbs (made from day-old bread) ⅓ cup orange mar­malade 2 lemons, rind finely grated, juiced 1 egg, whisked ex­tra golden syrup, to serve (op­tional) thick cream, to serve


4 cups plain flour ¼ tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der 250g cold but­ter, diced 1 cup sour cream To make pas­try, com­bine flour and bak­ing pow­der in a bowl. Us­ing your fin­ger­tips, rub but­ter into flour un­til mix­ture re­sem­bles bread­crumbs. Stir in sour cream un­til just com­bined. Shape dough into 2 discs, 1 slightly larger. Wrap in plas­tic wrap. Place in fridge for 30 min­utes or un­til firm. Grease a 25cm round fluted tart pan with a re­mov­able base and dust with caster sugar. Roll out larger pas­try disc on a lightly floured sur­face un­til 3mm thick and use to line pre­pared pan. Trim ex­cess. Place in fridge for 20 min­utes to rest. Mean­while, place golden syrup in a medium saucepan over a low heat for 2 min­utes or un­til warm and runny. Do not boil. Re­move from heat. Add bread­crumbs, mar­malade, le­mon rind and ½ cup of le­mon juice, and stir un­til well com­bined. Pre­heat oven to 180°C. Roll out re­main­ing pas­try un­til 3mm thick. Cut into 1.5cm-wide strips. Spoon golden syrup mix­ture into pas­try case, spread­ing evenly. Brush edges of pas­try case with egg. Ar­range pas­try strips over tart, weav­ing them over and un­der to form a lat­tice pat­tern. Gen­tly press pas­try strips to edge of pas­try case and trim. Place in fridge for 30 min­utes to rest. Brush pas­try lat­tice with egg. Bake tart for 40–45 min­utes or un­til pas­try is golden and crisp. Stand for 10 min­utes. Trans­fer tart to a serv­ing plat­ter and driz­zle with a lit­tle ex­tra syrup, if de­sired. Serve with cream.

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