Sunday, January 17, 2016

Alan Rickman, Downton Night and Treacle Tart

It's Downton Night... IT'S DOWNTON NIGHT!!!!  And the best part of tonight's Downton Night is we are enjoying a THREE DAY WEEKEND!!!! Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King for demonstrating to the world that change can come through peace and diligence.

Soo much floated through my mind as I considered baking for tonight's Downton Abbey.  In fact, it was hard for me to decide exactly what I wanted to prepare.  When I learned of the loss of Alan Rickman, I had something new to occupy my thoughts.  Rickman has been in soo many fun movies!

Who could ever forget the rocker hair style he sported as The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves?  The witch in the back of this image haunted my dreams the first time I saw this movie.  In fact, Kevin Costner's hairstyle as Robin still scares me.
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What about his role as Dr. Lazarus in the movie Galaxy Quest?  This movie was surprisingly engaging.  Rickman's indifference and, at times, hostile attitude made the character come alive.  He also had an awesome prosthesis which was made even more incredible at the end when it was shedding in chunks.  Good times.
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I adore the film Love Actually, so this had to make the list... even though he played a real jerk to his wife, Emma Thompson.  Seriously, you bought the secretary the gold necklace and your wife a cd?!!  Come on, man.  Who is supposed to get excited about Joni Mitchell as a Christmas present?  I get a lump in my throat every time I watch her put on that thrilled act then head to her bedroom and cry her eyes out in silence.  The worse is after she dries her tears she emerges with a happy face.... to a smiling family.  I always want to punch her hubs in the face. 
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While these films all made me love Alan Rickman, he holds a special place in my heart as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series.  That guy pulled off some facial expressions I wish I could have mastered as a high school teacher.  I am quite certain I would have struck fear into the hearts of the worst behaved students on my roll sheets and likely have been THE master of classroom management.  Just sayin'.  His ability to control a class is every teacher's (and administrator's) dream.
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As I was thinking about Alan Rickman's passing, I also pondered the beautiful books written by J. K. Rowling and inspiration for Downton Night struck.  Treacle Tart!!!  I remember reading about this dessert whenever our favorite characters poured into the Great Hall for their meals and celebrations.  I think they even washed it down with pumpkin juice. 
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Well folks, in honor of Alan Rickman's acting career and night 3 in the final series of Downton Abbey... I give you Treacle Tart.

Tart Shell Ingredients:

2 cups flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup ice cold water

Add flour, butter and salt to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the ingredients come together in fine crumbles.

Slowly add ice water and pulse until dough forms.

Remove from bowl and form into a flat disk.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tart Filling Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Lyle's Golden Syrup  (I did not have enough so I added a little unsulphured molasses to make the full amount)
12 tablespoons bread crumbs
4 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
zest of 1 lemon (optional)

While the dough chills, heat the syrup on medium heat until it begins to loosen.

Turn off heat and add butter, salt, bread crumbs, cream, egg, egg yolk, zest and lemon juice.  Set aside.

Roll out crust and place into a tart pan with removable bottom.  (Mine was 11 inches.)  Remove the excess dough and pierce with the tines of a fork then place back into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

Take tart pan from refrigerator and place onto a baking sheet.  Put into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven and blind bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Crust should be light golden in color.  

If you are worried about the crust not maintaining its shape, place beans or baking beads into the crust during the blind bake.

Remove tart pan from oven and pour in the filling.  

Place back into the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes or more, until set.  

Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Top will be chewy and center will be soft and moist.  

To serve, slice, dust with powdered sugar and place onto a plate with berries and whipped cream.

I must admit as I read the Harry Potter books, I had no idea how to properly pronounce "treacle".  I often read it to myself as "TREE-ack-le".  There was no shame in reading it that way since it was only in my head although Snape would likely disagree.  Having now baked and tried one, I feel as though I am required to know how to properly state the name.  According to this site, one can use the Scotish pronunciation "TRAY-cle" or the American version of "TREE-cle".

In the end, it isn't about how you say it but that you eat it.  Give it a try!  Tonight's episode of Downton Abbey features the wedding of Carson and Mrs. Hughes so let's all celebrate this happy occasion British style!!
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