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Hogwarts Treacle Tart

inspired by the Harry Potter series

by Louisa Herron

Harry's fav

Hogwarts-themed Treacle Tart

In honor of his birthday (July 31st), here’s Harry Potter’s favorite dessert.

 

A whole loaf of bread??

The ingredients

For the tart shell:

  • 9 oz (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 4.5 oz (9 tablespoons) room temperature butter, cut into small cubes

For the filling:

  • One 11 oz jar of golden syrup
  • 5.5 oz (150g, about 6 slices for me) white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
250 what??

Weighing flour

Also works as a banana slicer

Pastry cutter

Make the tart shell

Place the flour in a large bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers if it’s soft enough, until the mixture reaches the consistency of soft breadcrumbs. (You can also do this in a food processor.) Mix in 3 tablespoons of water to make the mixture into a firm dough. You may find it’s too crumbly and you need to add another tablespoon (I did), but add extra water gradually, mixing it in, because if you add too much the dough will be very sticky and hard to work with. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

You could just eat it like this tbh

Chilled dough

Preheat the oven to 400F and put a cookie sheet on a rack in the middle to heat. Grease an 8 inch loose-bottom tart pan. Pull about 6 oz of dough from the chilled dough ball and leave it in the fridge. Take the larger portion of dough out and roll it with a rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface, or between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it into a rough circle about 2 inches larger on all sides than the bottom of your tart pan. Line the pan with the dough circle, pressing it gently across the bottom and up the sides, and into the corners. Let the excess dough hang over the top, then roll your pin over the pan to trim it. Add the trimmings to the dough in the fridge, for your decorations.

Don't do the pizza dough toss method, it won't work

Rolling out the dough

Lining the tart pan

Prick the base of the tart all over with a fork to help stop air bubbles forming in the oven. Place the tart pan onto the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes to set, it will still be pale.

While the tart shell is baking

Grind your bread slices in a food processor until they’re fine crumbs. Juice and zest the lemon, taking care to only grate the yellow lemon skin and not the white pith underneath, which is very bitter. Reserve the lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Remove the tart shell from the oven when the 10 minutes are up and set it aside, leaving the cookie sheet in the oven.

Also, grinding the zest off of them

Squeezing lemons

Make the filling

In a large saucepan, heat the golden syrup on medium heat until it becomes warm and runny, be careful not to raise it high enough to simmer or boil. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the breadcrumbs (reserve a couple of tablespoons), lemon juice and zest. If the mixture seems very runny, add the reserved breadcrumbs. Pour the syrup mixture into the tart shell to just within 1/4 of the top so it won’t overflow.

Make the decorations: Remove the extra dough from the fridge and roll it out about 1/8 inch thick, about the same as the tart shell. Cut shapes from the dough with cookie cutters or a sharp knife, and lay them carefully on top of the warm filling. Press any dough that touches the edge of the shell firmly to the edge. Once you have all the decorations arranged to your liking, beat the egg in a small bowl until the yolk and white are well mixed, then brush the egg wash lightly onto the pastry decorations and all around the perimeter. Use a small clean paintbrush or your fingertip, if the egg drips down the decorations and onto the filling it will leave a little eggy blob on the surface of your pie. Place the tart onto the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F. If the top of the pastry is already browning, cover the tart with foil. Bake the tart another 25-30 minutes at 350F until the pastry is a nice golden brown and the filling seems set. Remove the tart from the oven and cool at least an hour to make sure it’s firm enough to slice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This looks like a political alignment chart but okay

Ready for the oven

“…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.”

Clotted cream is a bad name for anything

Tart and cream

Notes

Treacle is a very light grade of molasses, and as such it’s very sweet liquid sugar with a hint of toffee toastiness and a hint of bitterness. I have a strong aversion to bitterness and I’m sorry to say this tart, although made to a traditional recipe and objectively quite sweet, was slightly too bitter for me. This is a reflection only on my own tastes, but if you make it and find it strikes you the same way, in the future you could swap some (maybe a 1/4 cup or so) of the golden syrup out and replace it with honey. It wouldn’t taste the same but you have to adapt recipes to suit your own tastes.

Because the filling is cooked sugar with only breadcrumbs to soften the structure, it will get hard and chewy when refrigerated. Just be aware that for serving you’ll want to bring it to room temperature or serve it warm and it will be soft and pie-like again.

I decorated my tart with a rough version of the Hogwarts crest, imagining how it might look when served in the Great Hall. It helped me to roll out the dough and press the bottom of the tart pan against it lightly so I could see an outline of the circle I had to work within. I cut strips to divide it into quadrants, used a cookie cutter to make the central lozenge (heraldry term for a diamond shape) and cut an H into it with a small knife. Then I just looked at pictures of the Hogwarts crest while I free-form cut the animals with my knife. If you don’t want to tackle a design like this, a lattice top of woven strips is traditional and very attractive. You could also cut leaves or stars with a small cookie cutter, or add wings to small circles to make a flock of golden snitches. It’s also quite traditional to leave the top of the tart undecorated, so it’s up to you.

I served the tart with clotted cream because I barely need an excuse to eat it, but creme fraiche or plain whipped cream would also be nice rich toppings that let the sweetness of the tart shine. If you don’t mind a very sweet dessert, you could serve it with vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise (custard).

“A moment later the desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you can 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.”

― JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Monster Cake

from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

by Louisa Herron

Breath of the Wild Monster Cake

As soon as I saw this cake in the game, I knew I had to make it.

For the cake

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (all-purpose flour will make the cake tough)
  • 1/2 cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups ice water

 

For the frostings

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 32 tablespoons (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ounce freeze-dried blueberries (must be freeze-dried and not just dried), ground in a food processor or blender until powdered, and sieved to remove seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder or to your liking

 

For the horns & decorations

  • 5 ounces purple candy coating wafers/candy melts, or 5 ounces white candy coating & a few drops of oil-based purple candy color (food coloring will make the coating seize and clump) or purple gel color (it will stiffen the coating a bit but you can thin it with oil)
  • Coconut oil or vegetable shortening on hand in case you need a teaspoon or so to thin the coating
  • Mini chocolate chips, regular chips, hazelnuts, etc. to decorate the outside of the cake layers

 

Monster Cake ingredients

Make the cakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease and flour your cake pans, putting parchment paper circles into the bottom of the pans to prevent sticking, and have 2 cupcake liners ready.

In a standing mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Mix in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla. Be sure the scrape the sides of the bowl down as needed.

In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then 1/3 of the ice water, repeating and mixing after each addition. Transfer the batter to the cake pans, smoothing the tops, and enough to the 2 cupcake liners to fill them halfway. Put the cake pans on the middle oven rack and slide the muffin tray with the 2 cupcakes in it on the rack just below. Bake until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean; 35-40 minutes. The cupcakes will survive but are better if you remember to take them out after 25 minutes.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes after removing from the oven, then gently run a knife around the edges and turn the cakes onto a cooling rack. Peel the parchment paper off carefully and turn the cakes right side up to cool if you can, so they keep their shape a little better. The cupcakes can stay in their liners. Once cool, chilling the cakes in the fridge will make cutting them easier; leave the cupcakes at room temperature. Trim the bottom cake layer nice and flat on top and bottom; the top layer can stay slightly rounded. Put any cake trimmings with the cupcakes.

Make the frostings

Set a saucepan with an inch or so of water on the stove and bring to a gentle simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl over the saucepan, whisking until the sugar is dissolved (dip your finger in at the edge and see if it feels grainy).

Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk it with a standing mixer’s whisk attachment or a hand mixer until it’s glossy white, increased in volume, and completely cooled (the bottom of the bowl will be room temperature when it’s cooled enough); about 10 minutes.

Mix in the softened butter one tablespoon at a time until it’s all mixed in; if it starts to look lumpy just keep mixing and it will smooth out. Mix in the vanilla.

Divide the frosting into 2 bowls, about half in each. Add the 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to one (this gives a subtle chocolate flavor and soft color, feel free to add more) and mix well.

 

Breath of the Wild Monster Extract

 

To the other bowl, add your monster extract (blueberry powder) and mix well. This will naturally give it a pale speckled lavender color, but you can add purple food coloring if you want a brighter color. Remember to add just 2 or 3 drops at a time; food coloring builds in intensity very quickly: You can always add more, but you can’t take it away! If you’d prefer it without the blueberry flavor, you can just add color to the plain frosting to have a purple vanilla.

It’s easier to work with the 2 frosting flavors in piping bags, but the look of the Monster Cake is casual enough to do it with a small round knife or spoon. I used piping bags with large round piping tips.

 

Monster Cake Horns

 

Make the horns

Crumble the 2 cupcakes and trimmings gently into a bowl so there aren’t any cake chunks left. Add the chocolate frosting, just one tablespoon at the time, until you get a sort of “dough” that just barely holds together. It’s tempting to add more, but then it’s very hard for the horns to keep their shape. I only used 3 tablespoons of frosting for mine, the mixture clumped together when I pressed it but was still slightly crumbly.

Divide your mixture in half and shape each half into a horn! Go slowly and squeeze very lightly, press any cracks back together and try to make them roughly flat on the bottom. Put them on a plate in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.

Melt your candy coating in a small bowl in the microwave, or (if your bowl is heatproof) over a saucepan of an inch of water on medium heat, being careful not to get water into the bowl. If your coating is white, now’s the time to add the candy color or gel color, one drop at a time until you get a color you like. The coating should be smooth and not too thick, like hot fudge. If it seems thicker, add half a teaspoon of shortening or coconut oil and see if it thins out. Add more if needed, but remember too much oil will make the coating softer at room temperature.

Remove the horns from the freezer and dip a toothpick or lollipop stick into the warm coating, then insert the dipped end into the bottom of the horn. Let it set for a few seconds, then hold the horn by the stick over the bowl and spoon the coating over it until it’s covered (I left the bottom edges plain on mine because you won’t see them). If one coat doesn’t cover all the lumps and bumps, let it set firmly, put them back in the freezer for 5 minutes, then give them a second coat. Make sure they dry fully (you can put a cooling rack up on drinking glasses and rest the horn on the rack with the stick poking through the bottom) and then put them in the fridge.

Assemble the cake

Put the bottom layer on your serving plate and top it with the purple frosting. You can make swirly edges by piping with a round tip in a ruffly circle, then filling in the center as I did, or spreading it on in a scalloped way with a spoon/butter knife. Try to make it as level as possible. Add the top cake layer and press it in place gently.

At this point you can keep going or put the cake back in the fridge for half an hour or so, this is just to firm up the purple frosting so you don’t accidentally squish it. When you’re ready, add the chocolate frosting to the top. I piped very large round dots and pressed a knife into the top of each one, dragging towards the center of the cake to approximate the scalloped look. Then I filled in the center between the dots, and added a second smaller circle. I finished it by swirling the last of the frosting over the messy lines in the center.

The cake in the game has little round dots on the edges of the cake layers, maybe to show nuts or seeds in the layers, but it would be almost impossible to get those things to bake in exactly the spots you wanted them. I did mine after they were baked and cooled with mini chocolate chips, pressing them pointed side in all along the sides in rough groups of three. These stayed on by themselves but if you’re using something bigger you might want to add a dab of frosting or candy coating to the back as glue.

Spear the horns into the cake by their sticks, and you’re done!

Breath of the Wild Monster Cupcake

“It’s said that once you have a taste of this cake, you’ll never forget its sweetness.”

Notes

I made the Monster Cake this way because this is one of my favorite chocolate cakes, one of my favorite buttercreams, and I wanted the decorations to be things I like too (cake pops instead of fondant, for instance). Make a cake you enjoy making and eating, and if that’s one made with mixes and just assembled with a few of my suggestions, that’s great. There’s no such thing as a “real” recipe for this, so be creative!

If you wanted something easier for the horns, I think dipped banana halves would work, or shaped Rice Krispie treats, modeling chocolate, fondant, or make them from food-safe craft supplies and just remove them when serving.

About 18 servings, if 2 of the servings are the horn pops — there’s plenty of frosting here though so you might get more servings out of it. It will make a little more than 2 dozen cupcakes; with cupcakes you can use purple liners and make all the frosting chocolate, or peel off the liners, split them in half horizontally and put a layer of purple frosting in the middle if you want them to look like mini versions of the game cake. I made little flat horns for mine by drizzling candy coating in rough triangles onto wax paper, freezing them, and sticking them into the frosting.

🎂

“Sham Harga had run a successful eatery for many years by always smiling, never extending credit, and realizing that most of his customers wanted meals properly balanced between the four food groups: sugar, starch, grease, and burnt crunchy bits.”
― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms