Though most treacle tart recipes on the internet mention that it's Harry Potter's favourite dessert, I couldn't find much detail or thought on the matter. So, to remedy such a terrible situation, I skim read the books again to find the quotes (thankfully I know them well enough that it only took an afternoon)
As I think I've mentioned before, Harry Potter was a big part of my teenage years. The books will always be special to me - as, I think, they are to many of my generation, those of us who grew up with them, year by year, as we went through secondary school. I wrote my first quote-backed, detailed arguments about the books (H/Hr forever) and I genuinely think those arguments taught me more than most of the English lessons at my school.
"When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the puddings appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding...
As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families."
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter Seven, The Sorting Hat, p. 93.
"'Slave labour,' said Hermione, breathing hard through her nose. 'That's what made this dinner. Slave labour.'
And she refused to eat another bite.
The rain was still drumming heavily against the high, dark windows. Another clap of thunder shook the windows, and the stormy ceiling flashed, illuminating the golden plates as the remains of the first course vanished and were replaced, instantly, with puddings.
'Treacle tart, Hermione!' said Ron, deliberately wafting its smell towards her. 'Spotted dick, look! Chocolate gateau!'
But Hermione gave him a look so reminiscent of Professor McGonagall that he gave up."
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter Twelve, The Triwizard Tournament, p. 162.
"Harry was too used to their bickering to bother trying to reconcile them; he felt it was a better use of his time to eat his way steadily through his steak and kidney pie, then a large plateful of his favourite treacle tart."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter Eleven, The Sorting Hat's New Song, p. 191.
"'You missed the Sorting, anyway,' said Hermione, as Ron dived for a large chocolate gateau.
'Hat say anything interesting?' asked Harry, taking a piece of treacle tart.
'More of the same , really... advising us all to unite in the face of our enemies, you know.'
Draco Malfoy was miming the shattering of a nose to raucous laughter and applause. Harry dropped his gaze to his treacle tart, his insides burning again."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter Eight, Snape Victorious, p. 155-7.
"The dungeon was, most unusually, already full of vapours and odd smells. Harry, Ron and Hermione sniffed interestedly as they passed large, bubbling cauldrons. [...] They chose the one nearest a gold-coloured cauldron that was emitting one of the most seductive scents Harry had ever inhaled: somehow it reminded him simultaneously of treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle and something flowery he thought he might have smelled at The Burrow. He found that he was breathing very slowly and deeply and that the potion's fumes seemed to be filling him up like a drink. A great contentment stole over him; he grinned across at Ron, who grinned lazily back.
'It's the most powerful love potion in the world!' said Hermione.
'Quite right! You recognised it, I suppose, by its distinctive mother-of-pearl sheen?'
'And the steam rising in characteristic spirals,' said Hermione, enthusiastically, 'and it's supposed to smell differently to each of us, according to what attracts us, and I can smell freshly mown grass and new parchment and -'"
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter Nine, The Half-Blood Prince, p. 174, 176.
"Harry's scar was becoming more and more painful. He stood up. At once, Kreacher hurried forwards.
'Master has not finished his soup, would Master prefer the savoury stew, or else the treacle tart to which Master is so partial?'"
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Twelve, Magic is Might, p.191.
Harry attends five sorting feasts over the years and, as the quotes show, he eats treacle tart at four of them. The sorting feasts are about arriving at Hogwarts - first, as a new student, getting to know the people around him - and then, later, being welcomed back to the first real home he can remember. The treacle tart heralds a time of friendship, belonging and being looked after. I think that's why Harry smells it in the Amortentia and why it attracts him so much.
And so from Harry's first night at Hogwarts to bickering about S.P.E.W., from potions to burning scars, the sweet and comforting treacle tart runs through it all.
I wrote my first post about treacle tart just over four years ago. At the time I thought I couldn't replicate the tart of my childhood, but I think I've got pretty close now (except for the pastry, but I've decided I prefer my pastry anyway).
As you can see above, the filling is formed from golden syrup, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, egg and a touch of cream. I've tried adding other bits like ground ginger and lemon zest but they started to mask the pure flavour I love. I also tried a tablespoon of black treacle to see if it deepened the flavour but it totally overwhelmed it with a metallic tang (I've seen some recipes on google that make treacle tart with just black treacle, which - much as I like treacle - sounds awful). I also don't believe in lattices or anything like that - the crust is one of the best bits and it doesn't need more pastry.
I know it can appear to be a slightly odd idea, but it's genuinely one of my favourite desserts.
(I started with a Good Food recipe for the filling years ago)
For the pastry:
130g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
75g unsalted butter
milk to bind (about 1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
For the filling:
250g golden syrup*
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large egg
1 tbsp double or single cream
Sieve the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Cube the butter, add to the bowl and rub in (see foundation for help). Add the milk and bring together with your hands into a ball (see video here, though you shouldn't have butter lumps left). Squish into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes in the fridge.
On a lightly flour-dusted surface, evenly roll the pastry out to a circle that's roughly 12"/30cm in diameter. Transfer the pastry to the tin and let it rest in the shape for five minutes in the fridge (see first video above). Take out again and press carefully into a 8"/20cm round tart tin, making sure you get into the corners. Trim the edge, keeping a few scraps (see second video above). Place into the fridge and chill for 20 minutes or until cold and hard.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan). Line the pastry case with baking parchment (I used parchment lined foil in the photo) and then fill to the top with baking beans or weights. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Once the case is in the oven, make the filling. Weigh the syrup and breadcrumbs into a mixing bowl then add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until uniform. Leave to sit while the case bakes.
After the 15 minutes carefully lift out the beans in the parchment. If you have any small cracks, fill with a tiny bit of leftover pastry. Place back into the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom looks cooked (paler, drier). Give the filling another stir then scrape into the tart case. Place back into the oven and reduce the temperature to 160C/320F (fan). Bake for 25-30 minutes until set in the middle and browning around the edges.
I keep mine in the fridge and it's good for about 5-7 days - in fact I think the filling tastes better as time goes on. You can serve it slightly warm, room temperature or even, as I've recently discovered I like it, from the fridge (it's slightly chewier and doesn't taste as sweet when cold). I always serve it with clotted cream and I can't imagine it being as good with anything else.
(Makes 8-10 small slices)
* The truth is that there is absolutely no substitute for golden syrup in a treacle tart. You can get it on amazon.com and hopefully in other places too.
** My favourite breadcrumbs to use here are made from the Plaited Milk Bread, but any plain white loaf or brioche-style bread would work (except sourdough, I think). Some people like it with brown bread or a mixture, but I prefer white. I make breadcrumbs by (intentionally or not) letting the bread go slightly stale, then whizzing it up in the food processor. I leave them to dry out on a tray for a bit, then keep them in a bag in the freezer.
Three recipes that actually do have treacle in them:
Ginger Root Bundt Cake