I have a wee confession to make. I have never watched the Great British Bake Off.
You'd think it would be right up my alley, 12 'homebakers' having a good old fashioned bake off, along with technical challenges and lots of dough. But we were in the process of moving and decorating when it started, and by the time I found I had actual time to watch TV, the final had rolled around.
By chance, last week, when channel flicking, I came across the GBBO Masterclass, where they explained in detail how the actual celebrity judges made the technical challenges themselves, with all their tips/tricks into getting it right.
I was hypnotised. Paul Hollywood is one of my favourite bakers, because his methods are similar to mine. "use your hands for everything". Plus who doesn't love Mary berry and her brilliant cakes and treats?
During this awesome magical evening I watched Mary make her Treacle tart and even as the title popped up I thought "I will be making a tart this weekend". I MUST!
Which requires a small flashback, I'm afraid.
I tried making a tart about 2 weeks prior to this programme, and it got to the stage where I popped the dough into the fridge with magnificent ideas of what I was going to concoct (I was going for a chocolate one). Then, by the end of the 20 minutes waiting period, I'd found myself on the sofa with a giant mug of tea, and nothing could have moved me.
This annoyed Kris, who had been really looking forward to a chocolate tart. For the next two weeks all I heard was "Are you going to be making that tart?", "It's still in the fridge!" and "It's starting to smell."
Two weeks passed, Saturday rolled around, and I found myself staring that old lump of dough, still sitting in it's cling film and thought "That's probably enough chilling time." My second thought was to make a tart of it. However, two weeks in the the fridge had turned my awesome, short firm dough into Stretch Armstrong. The consistency and colour of play dough that has been played with too much.
It also smelled like farm (?) so I dumped the lump into the foodie bin, rolled up my sleeves and got to work on making another batch of dough for the tart I had in mind.
Which basically came down to what I had in my fridge & pantry. A bag of Bramley apples and a ton of butter. Plus, lots of stale bread.
A vision of Mary (The Baker, not The Virgin) came to me and whispered "Stale bread, makes perfect breadcrumbs for treacle tart..."
It would be a baking crime to ignore that fact, no?
So this Apple Treacle Tart was born.
It just happens to be another twist of fate that Bramley apples were my only choice, as the sour bite of the apple contrasts AMAZINGLY with the incredibly sickly filling and buttery base.
Here's a few wee tips to the perfect tart.
1. Use a tin with removable base, so when you're moving your rolled out dough into the tart tin, you can slide the base under and pop it into the tin. Making moving the pastry easy.
2. Use an excess piece of dough to push the dough into place in the tin.
3. If you don't have baking beans, normal dried beans and pulses will work well too.
4. If you don't have a sugar thermometer, have a glass of cold water handy by the side. Drop the treacle mixture into the glass as it starts to thicken and settle from it's expanding. If it holds its form when it hits the water and you are able to roll it in your fingers, it's ready for the breadcrumbs.
5. Cut the ends of the tart before you cook it. I decided to wait until after and the result was this wobbly knobbly crust instead of the pretty curved detail I had planned!
You'll find out that the tart cools and hardens like most toffee based things. It can be a bit...chewy. It tastes awesome cold, but if you've got someone round with loose dentures it's probably best to stick it in the microwave for a few seconds. That's all it needs to soften.
Knobbly bobbly - see?! Cut before you cook!!