Sugar! The North of France has always eaten a lot of it, in many different forms: molasses, cubes, or soft brown “vergoise”. In the 19th Century a special meal always had a tart as part of the menu. Back then there were lots of sugar refineries and so sugar was readily available so this is how the Tarte au sucre (sweet tart) quickly became an established part of northern cuisine.
Did you know that the trade block imposed on the English by Napoleon Bonaparte between 1806 and 1808 stopped the sugar getting through to the France from the colonies? To make-do, sugar was also extracted from sugar beet, a plant readily found in the North of France. This is why today France is a world leader in sugar beet production. Enjoy this deliciously sweet tart!
Preparation time: 25 minutes + 2 hrs resting time
Cooking time: 25 minutes
For the dough:
- 250g plain flour
- 10g dried yeast
- 2 dessert spoons light brown soft sugar + extra for sprinkling in the base
- 1 cup of milk (150ml)
- 1 egg
- 80g unsalted butter melted
- pinch salt
For the topping:
- 80g light brown soft sugar
- 20g unsalted butter
- 4 dessert spoons milk
Butter a tart tin (fixed base) and generously sprinkle with some of the extra brown sugar.
Heat the milk till luke warm and then mix with the dried yeast and a dessert spoon of the brown sugar. Leave for about 5 minutes until bubbles form and the yeast is activated.
In a mixing bowl put the flour, the yeast mixture, the egg, melted butter, the other dessert spoon of brown sugar and the salt. Mix together until an elastic dough is formed.
Pour into the tart tin and leave somewhere warm covered with a tea towel for it to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 200°C.
When the dough has risen, sprinkle with the 80g of brown sugar and the butter cut into little cubes. Moisten with the milk and then cook in the oven for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.