For the last few days we’ve been eating our way around a small portion of the North of England. Our helping sizes, on the hand, have been rather large.
It all kicked off with a family wedding in Yorkshire on Thursday. In the unexpected (but wonderful) warm weather we feasted on three courses of stomach filling stuff – think greedy servings of soufflé, rare roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and thick lemon tart – before retiring for an afternoon of champagne and sunshine followed by an evening of even more food (in the form of dainty canapés, think crispy bacon scallops, miniature meringues and everything in between.
The following day thirteen of us drove down to a beautiful old house in the Derby Dales. The long weekend then unfolded in a happy blur of cooked breakfasts, hearty pub grub, takeaway to feed the five thousand and enough leftover wedding cake to feed them again. To say we’ve eaten well would be an understatement. To say we’ve eaten too much would be a fact.
On arriving back in London on Sunday afternoon, despite the weekend’s overindulgence, I was excited to get back in the kitchen. Days without cooking are a luxury, but there’s always a part of me itching to return to routine, to prepare food just the way we like it, to play around with ingredients or try a new recipe.
Despite having stayed just down the road from Bakewell, I never got the chance to try a local tart. With this in mind, I made a batch of sweet shortcrust pastry, popped it in the fridge to chill and ground a packet almonds in preparation to make my own version. And then I remembered a recipe I’d earmarked in Bruce Poole’s cookbook that involves both pastry and ground almonds and which I’ve been wanting to make ever since I bought the book. The poor Bakewell tart never really stood a chance.
I’ve posted a recipe for treacle tart before, and even made it into ice cream, but what sets this version apart is the inclusion of ground almonds – there isn’t a breadcrumb in sight. The mixture is sticky with golden syrup and indulgently loosened with a fairly large amount double cream – an extravagant addition which is no doubt the direct result of Bruce’s restaurant roots. I’ve added a little lemon juice to cut through the richness, but the zest of an orange or a restrained sprinkling of rosemary or thyme would also work really well.
The result is a treacle tart to fall in love with. The recipe is fairly involved (I’ve cut out some of the resting stages below otherwise it could take you the best part of a day to make it!) but it’s absolutely worth it. The pastry is beautifully melt-in-the-mouth flaky thanks to copious amounts of butter and allowed to shine against a filling that is smooth and light with little of the chewy density I normally associate with treacle tart. The addition of a few flaked almonds on top adds a lovely crunch and when served warm with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream, I can honestly think of few better flavour, taste and texture sensations.
It’s not a Bakewell tart but it is utterly delicious. And you can’t say much fairer than that.
Individual Almond Treacle Tarts
(makes 8 – 10 little round tarts)
For best results, you need to allow a fair amount of time for your pastry to chill – do read through all the instructions before you start to make sure your timings are right!
For the pastry
250g plain white flour
200g icing sugar
200g unsalted butter, chilled & cubed
2 medium egg yolks, beaten
For the filling
340g golden syrup
100g ground almonds
90ml double cream
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 large free range egg yolk, beaten
For the pastry
Put the flour and sugar into a food processor and blitz.
Add the cold butter and blitz again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks again and blitz until just combined.
Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll into a ball, flatten slightly and wrap in cling film before chilling for 2 – 3 hours.
When the pastry is chilled, remove from the fridge and lightly flour a work surface. Cut into 8 – 10 equal sized pieces, depending on the size of your tart cases.
With each individual piece, bash the dough out flat with your rolling pin then bring the broken edges in to form a ball. With regular, generous dustings of flour, roll out each disc of pastry to about 3mm thick.
Lift the pastry gently, wrapping round your rolling pin if easier, and place it over the tart case. Working fast, lift up the edges of the pastry to allow it to relax into the base of each case and press in lightly. Leave any excess pastry round the edges to allow for shrinkage.
Line each case with a double layer of cling film, fill with baking beads and return to the fridge to cool for at least one hour.
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C. Remove your pastry cases from the fridge and bake on a baking tray for 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove the baking beans and cling film, then bake for a further 18 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once cooled, trim the edges of the pastry so you have a neat edge.
For the filling
Stir together the golden syrup and ground almonds. Gently stir in the cream and lemon juice using a whisk, but stirring rather than whisking so as not to create volume. Stir in the beaten egg yolk.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.
Pour the filling into your prepared tart cases and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the ring and serving with a large scoop of ice cream or dollop of clotted cream.