Thursday, October 04, 2012

Things to do with Treacle.

Treacle is marvelous stuff.

For those of you on the other side of the water, ‘treacle’ is more or less the same as molasses. I say ‘more or less’ because I like treacle better. It is less aggressive, perhaps. Or perhaps I feel so because I grew up with treacle - and my first experience of molasses was of a frighteningly intensely black stuff with a nasty bitterness about it. I have since tasted better molasses, but hold fast to my belief that English treacle is a more elegant, mellow article.

Treacle is very useful. You can even preserve meat in it, Mrs Rundell says so:

To preserve Meat by Treacle.
This experiment has been successfully tried in the following manner:—A gentleman put a piece of beef into treacle, and turned it often. At the end of a month he ordered it to be washed and boiled, and had the pleasure to find it quite good, and more pleasant than the same piece would have been in salt for that time. But the expense of this method must confine it to the opulent.
The family receipt book: containing eight hundred valuable receipts … (1819)
Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell,

In the past , treacle was useful and interesting in beverages such as treacle beerand ‘mahogany,’ but its unique dark sweetness is best appreciated in baked goods. It is indispensable and delicious in genuine North of England ‘parkin’ (which is more or less like gingerbread, but made with oatmeal, not wheat flour.) It should go without saying that it is fabulous in steamed puddings, and that steamed puddings without treacle in them can be improved by serving with treacle sauce.

Thunderand Lightning’ cannot be made without it, nor can (of course) treacle scones, treacle toffee, treacle fudge – or treacle cheesecakes, which I must give you the recipe for as soon as I remember where it is.

One of treacle’s most popular uses in the North of England, is in treacle tart – although this is nowadays more likely to be made with treacle’s much milder sibling – Golden Syrup. I came across a marvelous variation on the theme of treacle tart the other day, hence this post. I found it in a small Australian paperback cookery book published in 1943 by the ‘Truth’ and ‘Daily Mirror’ newspapers and edited by the well-known Brisbane medico, Dr Phyllis Cilento.

If large amounts of pastry frighten you, this is not for you. But I bet you love the name of this dish, as I do.

Treacle George.
Take a shallow cake-tin, a deep plate, or a pie-dish, and butter it. Place at the bottom a layer of pastry (short crust), about ¼ inch thick, over this put a layer of treacle, then a layer of fine breadcrumbs, sufficient to hide the treacle. Over this squeeze a little lemon juice, then put a layer of pastry, and continue the rotation till the tin is filled up to the height of 3 or 4 inches or so. Bake in a fairly quick oven, remove from tin, and serve either hot or cold.


Anonymous said...

It must be my age if Golden Syrup is considerd the lighter cousin of Treacle. What exactly then is real Treacle and where can I buy some or do you have a recipe to make the real stuff :)

wildcraft diva said...

How I miss treacle and golden syrup in Italy(I'm a north-west UK Lass). What fond memories of treacle toffee and tart made by my nan....

Imagica said...

Well, in the UK it can be bought at any grocer or supermarket.
As to making it...I can only refer you to the Wikipedia article.Looks complicated.Name origin very interesting, though.
Or it could be mined..I have seen a van in a car park, here in Cornwall, advertising a private Treacle mine, with well-heads offering different grades. Obviously now the tin and copper have run out, we have had to find other resources.

Dale said...

Thank you for that Wiki link, Imagica - after 60 years, at last I understand the Dormouse's joke!

I like the sound of that Treacle George; it sounds like a stack of Treacle Tarts. Handy for those of us who are underweight and going short on carbs. Oh, wait a minute....

Shay said...

I will send you the link if you like (its on my bookmarks on the work PC), but in the 19th century military surgeons cauterized wounds with boiling treacle.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello all, and thanks for your ideas and comments.
Anonymous: in the UK, golden syrup is sometimes called 'treacle' - especially in 'treacle' tarts. I suspect this is because many folk are no longer familiar with 'black treacle', which is 'more or less' the same as molasses. if you cant get 'treacle', then molasses will do - but not the 'blackstrap' molasses which is quite bitter.
Wildcraft diva - do you commute back to the UK occasionally - bring some back with you? but dont let it leak into your luggage!
Imagica - I do love the treacle mine concept: I did write about it once, and a couple of readers took it literally ....
Dale: Treacle George does sound like treacle tart on steroids, doesnt it?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Shay - I would love the link about the surgical use of treacle! Thanks!

Shay said...

Here is the link to the book at the US Army's Borden Institute library online, where I was doing research for a paper on US Civil War medical volunteers. The chapter is on the Evolution of Wound Ballistics.

Scroll down to page 85.

Two warnings -- my work PC lets me past the security certificate on this site, my home PC does not.

Also as you go deeper into the book the photographs of casualties become more numerous and none of them are pleasant.