Well, technically I didn’t try Mary Berry’s actual treacle tart, but I did try her recipe and oh boy do I have some opinions!
I decided for this post I wanted to try and review a recipe I had never baked before. I wanted it to be fairly challenging but not overly ambitious, something anybody would give a go. I did however, want to try it like a complete novice and follow the recipe step by step to see how effective and reliable it actually is. To do this, I asked my boyfriend who literally never cooks, to assess the recipe along the way and tell me what he thought the instructions meant. This was very interesting especially since I, a confident baker, actually agreed with him!
I decided to go with Mary Berry’s treacle tart, a recipe from her baking bible. I’ve had this cook book for a long time and generally think it’s great. I can imagine that it’s also pretty popular with novice bakers because of the Great British Bake Off so I always thought the tougher recipes would have detailed instructions. I was so wrong! I won’t include a picture due to this being someone else’s recipe but the instructions lacked detailed and left A LOT of guessing work. As I mentioned before, this was my first attempt at treacle tart but definitely not the first time I’ve tried a new recipe and there were times I was genuinely pulling my hair out because the instructions just did not provided enough guidance!
Anyway, to the process. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts I lack baking equipment due to recently moving in to a new home. As I’ve been baking for this blog I’ve been picking up items along the way to slowly build up my collection. It’s also a good way to to see how accessible these items actually are. Up to now I haven’t had a problem but for this I needed a 17cm deep tartlet tin. To find this we jumped in Demetri our Dacia and took a trip to Swindon B&M to see if they had one for a reasonable price. After searching high and low I found the pretty measly baking section and to be honest, not to my surprise they didn’t have one, so we jumped back in the car and drove to Home Sense. I wandered upstairs and found a large selection of baking goods. I looked at two that were nearly perfect but just a few CM’s off. I was unsure whether to grab them or gamble as our next stop was Dunelm. I think you can guess what I did, what a mistake! I won’t bore you with the rest of this nightmare but let’s say Dunelm was a complete bust and Hobby Craft would have been but I got to watch Robbie try to find me whilst knocking over two curtain poles and a blind – worth it. I settled on a 23cm standard tartlet tin from Sainsbury’s which I thought was better then nothing, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
The ingredients were pretty simple, what’s in the picture above is all that was needed. I thought this was ideal as the majority of items here you would have in your pantry so you wouldn’t necessarily need to pop to the shops, 5 stars for you here, Mary. The first step was to make the butter and flour in to a firm dough, I followed the instructions and added only 2 tablespoons of water. I thought to myself at the time that it was just not enough, but I went along with it anyway and popped it in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool. Once the buzzer dang I grabbed the dough out and started to roll it in to a thin layer. As expected, this was a disaster. Every time I rolled it cracked and fell apart on me, it just wouldn’t stretch! I added some water but still, it was too dry. I added more, by now I must have included more then 5 tablespoons and more was needed. Eventually I managed to get the dough to an acceptable consistency and pressed it in to the tin. By now it was completely over worked and to be honest, so were my stress levels. I must admit, I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my baking. Even a fun task like this I secretly wanted to turn out perfect so I could instagram the perfect picture. But I excepted, this just wasn’t happening today. So I threw my hair up in to my serious bun and pressed (literally) on.
Finally, the pastry was done. I checked my recipe and could see the filling was next, a simple mixture of Golden Syrup, Lemon and breadcrumbs. I asked Robbie to check my recipe, it said to use fresh breadcrumbs. He though this meant taking the bread and tearing off small chucks. After earlier in the day when we had scoured Sainsbury’s for ‘fresh’ breadcrumbs and came up nada, I agreed, tear the bread. Well, the golden syrup was bubbling, the lemons were zesting and I was having a nervous breakdown shoving bread in the toaster and trying to manically chop it with a large kitchen knife. Hardly a serene Nigel Lawson moment but I guess it did the job…
Honestly, I guessed wrong. My treacle tart was a sticky, sloppy mess. Despite my handy work with my carving knife my ‘crumbs’ or shall we say chucks were far too big. I carried on mixing, said stuff the recipe and emptied the rest of my golden syrup on to the disaster. At this point I was letting out a delusional laugh with no smile, I stared out of the back door questioning how my life led to this moment whilst simultaneously cursing Mary Berry. Right, get it together. I shoved it in the oven and poured a large glass of wine.
10, 20, 30 minutes. Is it done? It doesn’t look done. 4 more minutes… 3 more minutes… I’m just getting it out. Now this was the shocking moment, it actually looked great! Nothing like the picture but still good. I left it to cool then with the help of Robbie removed it from the tin and gave it the taste test. It tasted good, it had a sweet zest and was lovely and sticky. The breadcrumbs were definitely a mistake and were a little stodgy but I’m not taking full or any responsibility for this. Recipes should be clear and I really do believe that this one lacked detail, Mary! It did however stage some perfect pictures definitely insta worthy so maybe my nervous breakdown was premature…
This bake didn’t end disastrously and it did taste good, but I can’t rate it highly. A novice baker would really struggle with the lack of guidance and it wouldn’t have taken much to explain certain instructions in more detail. I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.
I’d love to hear if any of you have ever tried a recipe that just hasn’t worked for you, let me know in the comments below!