What do you think of when you hear the word ‘treacle’? I would imagine that for many people, the first thing they think of is Harry Potter’s love of treacle tart:
‘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’.
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Treacle tart in the Harry Potter novels is warming, homely and comforting – very important given the trauma he experiences throughout the series. In real life treacle tart is as delicious as Harry says, yet the name is something of a misnomer, as it very rarely contains treacle and is instead made with large quantities of golden syrup.
On the Discworld, rather, treacle is a naturally occurring substance which comes from mines – the Watch House is located on Treacle Mine Road. When you cook with treacle, you can see why the joke works; it’s such a dark, strong-tasting ingredient.
I generally bake with treacle during the autumn and winter. It’s a key ingredient of parkin and, of course, treacle toffee, both of which are traditionally eaten in Yorkshire around Bonfire Night. The taste of treacle reminds me of these dark, smoky autumn evenings and I would never think of it as being particularly suited to this time of year.
But then I stumbled upon a recipe for Gingerbread Cupcakes in Shelly Kaldunski’s Cupcakes and decided to make them last weekend. The cake itself is highly-flavoured gingerbread, made with ground ginger, cicnnamon, allspice and nutmeg, as well as grated fresh ginger. It’s then topped with a lemon glaze, which is a glacé icing made with lemon juice and the addition of lemon zest. The tangy icing is particularly welcome – it’s less sweet than a standard glacé icing and is a nice contrast to the dense gingerbread. This, plus the fresh ginger in the cake, makes a gingerbread which is perfect for Spring.