Recipe: Grapefruit Treacle Tart

Looking for new dessert inspiration? Discover Prue and Peta Leith’s summer alternative to the traditional treacle tart, taken from The Vegetarian Kitchen.

“I adore treacle tart. At lunch before my wedding, I had 24 oysters followed by a bowl of treacle tart and custard. Bliss. But I do recognize that most treacle tarts are too sweet, so I devised this variation in which grapefruit cuts through the sweetness of the syrup. Serve it with ice cream, cream, or good old-fashioned custard, homemade or shop-bought.” – Prue Leith



Serves 12

3 pink grapefruit
3 large eggs
450g golden syrup
50ml double cream
100g coarse fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp caster sugar

For the pastry

140g cold unsalted butter,
cut into cubes
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
a pinch of salt
2 large egg yolks
2–3 tbsp iced water


1. To make the pastry, put the butter, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour lightly using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Use a butter knife to mix in the egg yolks and enough water to bring it together to a crumbly dough – it should only just hold together. Wrap the dough in cling film, and chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, until firm.

2. Finely grate the zest of one grapefruit. Cut the fruit in half and extract the juice. Put the grapefruit juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly until the juice has reduced by about two thirds and has become syrupy. Peel and segment the other two grapefruit, removing all pith.
3. To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until yolks and whites are smoothly combined, then add the golden syrup, cream, reduced grapefruit juice and zest, and the breadcrumbs. Stir vigorously to combine.

4. Heat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up. Grease a 24cm (9½in) loose-bottomed flan tin.

5. Unwrap the pastry and roll it out as thinly as you can on a dusted surface, ideally to a thickness of only 1mm. Line the greased tin with the pastry, then put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.

6. Trim the excess pastry from the top of the pastry case, then fill it with the treacle mixture. Put it directly onto the pre-heated baking sheet in the oven. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40–50 minutes, covering it with foil towards the end of cooking if it is browning too much on top.

7. While the tart is baking, dry the grapefruit segments on a piece of kitchen paper, then place them on a sturdy metal baking tray and sprinkle the caster sugar liberally over them. Use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelize the sugar (see Tips).

8. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool until it is just lukewarm, not hot. Arrange the caramelized grapefruit segments on top of the warm tart.


If you happen to have stale brioche in the bread tin, blitz it to crumbs in a blender and use it instead of the breadcrumbs in this tart. It adds a rich, buttery flavour.

No blowtorch? Never mind. Just omit the sugar and arrange the segments on top of the tart.

It is worth learning how to segment citrus fruit so each segment is whole and pith- free. First, hold the fruit gently on a board (try not to squeeze it) and use a very sharp serrated knife to remove first the top and bottom, then the skin with the pith attached. You should be left with a whole round fruit, pith-free. Hold it in one hand and make a cut towards the centre of the fruit on one side of a segment. Then angle the knife to cut towards you up the other side of the segment. This will dislodge it. Repeat with the next segment until you have them all out.


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