Michelle Darmody: The burnt, bitter taste of treacle

Michelle Darmody: The burnt, bitter taste of treacle

I have always enjoyed the burnt, bitter taste of treacle. I remember the first time I tasted treacle toffee, I was hooked.

It was made with full butter and the softness and chewiness combined with that unusual molasses taste made me go back for more.

I have always found it confusing that treacle tart, the ubiquitous cake associated with the thick, black, syrupy liquid we call treacle, actually does not contain any treacle at all.

It is made with golden syrup. However, when I investigated this further I found that technically treacle is the name given to any syrup made during the process of refining sugar.

So golden syrup is in fact another form of treacle. I do tend to think only of the black molasses when referencing treacle.

The tins in which the syrup comes not changed in generations. They are manufactured by Tate and Lyle of London which had a monopoly on the often vicious, sugar trade. Sugarcane was brought to England by companies such as Tate and Lyle from plantations throughout the British colonies.

In more recent times the Tate name has been linked to the Tate Art Galleries. If you look closely at the tins you can see a dead lion, which is surrounded by buzzing bees. This image has been on the treacle and golden syrup tins since the company’s foundation.

It is a reference to a statement in the bible about Samson’s lion, which suggests that “out of the strong came forth sweetness”.

Treacle loaf

Michelle Darmody: The burnt, bitter taste of treacle

  • 250g of wholemeal flour
  • 180g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of bread soda
  • A generous pinch of sea salt
  • 50g of porridge oats
  • 350ml of buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp of treacle

Heat your oven to 180C and oil or line a 2lb loaf tin.

Mix the flours together and sieve in the bread soda, stir until combined. Stir in the salt and oats.

Add the treacle into the buttermilk. Combine them thoroughly, whisking if necessary.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the buttermilk and treacle. Bring all of the ingredients together until completely combined and scoop into the prepared tin.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the tin,once cool enough to handle, and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Treacle and pumpkin seed flapjacks

Michelle Darmody: The burnt, bitter taste of treacle

  • 125g of soft butter
  • 95g of treacle
  • 100g of soft brown sugar
  • 200g of porridge oats
  • 80g of pumpkin seeds
  • 20g of sunflower seeds

Heat the oven to 180C andline an 8in-square tin with parchment.

Melt the butter, treacle and sugar over a low heat in a heavy-based saucepan. Once they are melted stir until combined.

Stir the oats and seedstogether in a large bowl. Add the treacle mixture and coat the dry ingredients. Scoopthe mixture into the prepared tin and press it down.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool until you can handle the tin without burning your fingers, then cut the flapjack into rectangles while still in the tin.

Once completely cool remove the rectangles from the tin, store in an airtight container.

Treacle ice cream

Michelle Darmody: The burnt, bitter taste of treacle

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ tbs of golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp of treacle
  • 100 mls of cream
  • 200 mls of milk
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 150 mls of creme fraiche

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and treacle in a large bowl until creamy; set aside.

Place the milk and cream in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Once the milk mixture begins to shiver, before it is at boiling point, remove from the heat and gradually whisk into the treacle mixture. Stir in the salt.

Whisk until thoroughly combined, then allow to cool.

Once the mixture is completely cold, stir in the creme fraiche and again whisk it until completely combined.

Scoop the mixture into a freezer-safe tub.

Remove it after an hour and beat it vigorously to break down the ice crystals. Place it back into the freezer and repeat three more times.

If you have an ice-cream machine, follow its instructions instead.

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