What is Treacle?
Treacle is a British confection made from sugar in the form of an uncrystallized syrup. The word comes from Middle English and was originally used to describe medicines used as antidote to poisons. There are two types of treacle: golden and black. The golden variety has a sweet flavor and is commonly used as a sweetener. Whereas, the black variety has a richer flavor with intermingling sweet and bitter tastes.
- Molasses is a common substitute when treacle is not available.
- Both varieties are used in a variety of popular British desserts.
Some other popular British desserts include:
- Mincemeat Pie
- Madeira Cake
- Steamed Plum Pudding
- Jammy Dodgers
- Batternberg Cake
- Spotted Dick
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Jam Roly Poly
The invention of the treacle is credited to Scottish businessman Abram Lyle. He owned a sugar refining business that converted sugarcane into sugar loaves. One of the byproduct of this refining was a thick and gloopy syrup. This was refined further and sold cheaply to the workers since sugar itself was quite expensive. This became quickly popular and gave rise to Lyle’s Golden Syrup two years later in 1883. The black treacle was only invented in 1950. Today, other brands also provide this product, but Lyle still captures the market.
Nutritional profile for treacle (1 tbsp):
This confection may contain high levels of vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and iron.
To prepare treacle, the main ingredients required are sugar and water. First, one quarter of the sugar is put in water and heated until it dissolves and turns into a dark color. Next, the burnt sugar is allowed to cool a little before the rest of the sugar is added in along with some more boiling water. After that, some lemon juice is also added and the pan is placed on low heat, allowing it to simmer until it reaches the correct thick and viscous consistency.
Treacle is used as a sweetener and is useful in a variety of desserts and baked dishes. It is specifically significant in British cuisine. Here are a few recipes to try:
- Black Treacle
- Derbyshire Thor Cake
- Treacle Tart
- Treacle Pudding
- Treacle Buns
- Irish Treacle Bread
- Bonfire Toffee
- Yorkshire Parkin
- Aunt Nelly’s Pudding
- Malt Loaf
There is no standard of identity for treacle.
Dr Neil Buttery, “Out of the strong came forth sweetness…”, British Food: A History, https://britishfoodhistory.com/2012/02/01/golden_syrup/
Dr Neil Buttery, The Treacle Mines of England, British Food: A History, https://britishfoodhistory.com/2012/04/01/the-treacle-mines-of-england/