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Memories of a Norfolk Childhood – and Treacle Tart from Norfolk:
I can’t honestly lay claim to being from ‘anywhere’. By the time I was eight years old, I’d moved house 20 times and been to 10 different schools. Born before my father had qualified as a doctor, I spent the first two years of my life following him around various house jobs (one in Cromer). Then, he joined the Army on a short commission and we spent time in Germany and Malaysia, with his final years of service in Hampshire.
We moved to Nottingham where he took a dislike to the over-subscribed practice and densely populated city and, after just six months, he took us all on a long car journey to a small seaside town in Norfolk. I remember it poured with rain and we spent most of the afternoon in the amusement arcade on the pier. But we did get to paddle in rockpools and walk along the beach. And, in the car, before we set off back to Nottingham, he looked at us all and asked
Well children, where would you rather live – in Nottingham or by the sea-side?
Aged between three and seven, the answer was predictable and we all happily chimed in with a vote for the sea-side.
Mum was furious. We’d only just been settled into what she thought was a good school. Most of our possessions were still in packing cases. But, that was it. We moved yet again. We did have an idyllic life, I have wonderful memories of growing up somewhere we could go to the beach every day if we wanted. It’s a beautiful and still unspoilt part of England, where time seems to have stood still.
I have been back recently, to visit Congham Hall Hotel and Spa – the first time since the last of my family moved away, but now that I’ve found the Norfolk section of the cottages.com website I might well have to change that. Just look at this picture postcard cottage in Winterton on Sea
I do like self-catering as an option for holidays – it is somehow more relaxing to be in a ‘home’ than in a hotel and it also means I get a chance to cook with local produce while it is fresh. And Norfolk, the bread-basket of England, has plenty to offer. There’s wonderful seafood from the North Sea and wash, Samphire from the beaches and a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables. I can remember fruit picking for pocket money as a child – raspberries and black-currants – both of which would work very well with this Norfolk Treacle Tart. I think I’d be more than happy staying here, near Fakenham, part of Norfolk my parents moved to after we’d all left home.
The recipe, sent to me by Cottages.Com isn’t one I remember from my childhood but then my mum didn’t like making desserts and tended to stick to crumble (with fruit from the garden), chocolate mousse when she wanted to spoil us and pavlova for ‘posh’ events.
I’ve checked, though; initially, I thought there was a mistake in the ingredient list because there are no breadcrumbs. It turns out that it is normal for Norfolk, the tart is meant to be a sweet egg flan.
Traditional Norfolk Treacle Tart - a delicious dessert served cold or hot
- 250 g Plain Flour
- 100 g Icing Sugar
- 125 g Unsalted Butter Cut into cubes
- 1 Small Unwaxed Lemon Zest only
- 15 ml Milk
- 1 Large Egg
- 8 tablespoons Golden Syrup
- 100 g Unsalted Butter
- 2 Large Eggs
- 4 tablespoons Double Cream
- 2 Medium Unwaxed Lemons Zest only
- Sift the flour and icing sugar into a mound on a marble slab
Gradually rub in the butter with your fingers till you have a breadcrumb like mixture
Add the lemon zest
Make a well in the centre of the flour crumb and break an egg in.
Use your fingertips to gradually draw in the crumbs into the egg mixture and form a dough. Add milk as necessary so that you have a dough which can be formed into a ball.
Wrap the pastry dough in clingfilm and put to rest in the fridge while you make the filling
Melt the butter and syrup in a small pan, taking care to avoid over-heating and caramelising the mixture. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so
Whisk the eggs, cream and lemon zest together, then gradually add in the warm butter and syrup mixture
Line a flan tin with a removable base with the pastry.
Blind bake for 15 minutes at 185C (fan oven)
Remove any cooking beans and blind bake for a further 5 minutes
Put the oven temperature up to 195C
Put the flan case on a baking tray (in case of any spills) and fill with the golden syrup and egg mixture
Bake for 25-30 minutes, till the centre is set and the egg mixture has puffed up a little
Allow to cool a little and eat while warm with cream or ice-cream.
Very delicious it is too. I made my tarts in small (7cm) flan tins so that I could freeze some of them, but you could easily make one large tart. And, of course, you NEED to visit Norfolk and enjoy the tart in situ.
Thinking of making this at home? Why not pin the recipe for later
Disclaimer: I have received a small fee for trying this recipe and for writing about Norfolk from cottages.com