Old School Butterscotch Tart Recipe
Delicious old school butterscotch tart! A mouth-watering dessert popular in many primary schools. This retro dessert is so easy to make and the taste is just so good.
Who remembers this old school butterscotch tart? I certainly do! A smooth, creamy and sweet butterscotch filling that sits on top of a buttery shortcrust pastry bed.
It has the perfect balance of buttery and caramel flavours and it’s the perfect recipe for nostalgia and comfort. I have so many memories enjoying this tart during school dinners, and now, memories of me enjoying it at home too!
The flavours are amazing, and the texture is delightful… Doesn’t this all sound amazing? If the answer is yes (and let’s be real, it should be), then get ready to make this butterscotch tart from scratch…
What Is Butterscotch Tart?
Butterscotch tart is a traditional British school dinners dessert, it consists of a pastry base filled with a smooth and indulgent butterscotch filling.
The filling is typically made of brown sugar, butter and flour mixed with milk, but some recipes vary and include eggs and cream.
It tastes like a caramelised brown butter caramel that’s thick, smooth and rich. Traditionally in British schools, this school dinner pudding would be served with custard or whipped cream.
It goes by a variety of different names all that vary slightly in ingredients or in how it’s made. A few names I know this recipe as is butterscotch tart, caramel tart and also as gypsy tart.
Watch How To Make It
Why You’ll Like This Recipe
- The perfect dessert for all occasions
- Use readymade shortcrust pastry to make this dessert fast
- No fancy ingredients just basic cupboard fillers
- The perfect dessert for people with a sweet tooth
- An easy butterscotch tart recipe with a tasty filling
Shop-Bought Pastry Or Homemade Pastry?
I like to make my own homemade pastry but if I’m in a rush shop-bought pastry works just as well. The main difference is that shop-bought pastry will not be as buttery or as sweet as homemade shortcrust.
If you wan’t to make the pastry from scratch, check out my shortcrust pastry recipe it goes into full detail (with a video). Though, I do go into it in this post too!
Regardless of the type of pastry you use, it needs to be blind baked in the oven before making the butterscotch filling.
Butterscotch Tart Recipe Ingredients
Below are the few ingredients needed to make this dessert:
Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients:
- Plain Flour: Plain flour is best for making pastry.
- Butter: Use block butter instead of soft spreadable butter.
- Caster Sugar: Used to sweeten the pastry, you could also use icing sugar as an alternative.
- Milk (Or Water): This is added to help bind the pastry ingredients together.
Butterscotch Sauce Filling Ingredients:
- Unsalted Butter: I prefer using unsalted butter but if you like a salty caramel taste you can use salted butter. Though, I would use unsalted butter then add salt to taste.
- Soft Light Brown Sugar: When heated in the pan with butter the sugar turns into the butterscotch tart filling.
- Plain Flour: Plain flour is mixed with milk to help thicken the butterscotch sauce.
- Whole Milk: I like to use full fat milk; but other alternatives will work.
- Butterscotch Essence (Optional): Adding this is optional but it does enhance the butterscotch flavour. You could also add vanilla extract for more flavour.
How To Make Shortcrust Pastry
Here’s how I make my shortcrust pastry, its buttery, crumbly and really simple to make. You can make this pastry by hand or use a food processor.
Add flour and sugar to a food processor or mixing bowl and mix until evenly distributed.
Then add butter to the food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you’re using your hands rub the butter into the flour and sugar mixture.
Add a few tablespoons of water (or milk) and mix together until the pastry dough has formed. Use your hands to bind the dough together.
Wrap the sweet shortcrust pastry in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (gas mark 4, 160°Fan)
On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the pastry 5mm thick and lay it over a greased tart tin. Use your fingers to trim away any excess pastry. With a fork, prick the pastry base.
Place a layer of parchment paper on top of the pastry and add baking beans. Blind bake in the oven for 15 minutes then remove the parchment paper and baking beans and bake for a further 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
How To Bake Butterscotch Tart
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make this easy butterscotch tart (a primary school favourite). Full recipe instructions are on the recipe card:
Mix plain flour and milk together in a small mixing bowl and set aside for later use.
Melt butter and sugar together in a pan over a low to medium heat.
Slowly add the flour and milk mixture and mix well until evenly distributed. Leave the mixture to simmer until thickened, at this stage the mixture should be bubbling. This should take around 6 to 10 minutes.
Once thickened, remove the pan from the heat and add salt and butterscotch essence (optional), then leave the butterscotch mixture to cool down for 5 minutes.
Pour the butterscotch filling into the cooled pastry case and leave it to cool down at room temperature before placing it in the fridge to set for 3 to 4 hours (overnight for best results).
What To Serve With Butterscotch Tart
You can serve butterscotch tart with custard, pouring cream, whipped cream and even ice cream! This indulgent honeycomb ice cream or this Biscoff ice cream will suit the tart’s caramel flavour exceptionally well.
Of course, you can serve this dish on its own. The flavours are quite sweet so you might prefer serving with fresh fruit instead.
Decoration And Topping Ideas
If you want to make this tart look extra special, there are so many ways to decorate it! My go-to design is a dusting of icing sugar, sprinkled sea salt followed by blueberries and raspberries, it adds a pop of colour and looks delicious.
Below are a few more topping ideas:
- Drizzle melted white chocolate
- Sprinkle chopped nuts
- Top with caramel sprinkles
- Drizzle caramel sauce
- Toasted oats
- Pipped cream
My Top Tips
I like to slightly flatten the pastry before putting it into the fridge to chill. It increases the surface area which reduces the time it takes to cool, also flattening the dough makes it easier to roll out.
Don’t skip pricking the pastry case with a fork, it allows trapped air to escape whilst the pastry is baking in the oven. This also prevents bubbling and the pastry lifting away from the tin.
Don’t have time to make your own pastry or use ready-rolled out pastry? Then you can buy a shop-bought pastry case. It saves a lot of time and makes this dessert even easier to make.
Use digestive biscuits instead of pastry: Digestive biscuits make a great base alternative. Simply bash the biscuits and mix with melted butter like a cheesecake. Digestives have a slightly sweet and nutty flavour that will complement the butterscotch filling flavour.
Make it gluten-free: To make a gluten-free tart use gluten-free flour for the filling and for the pastry. You could also buy a ready-made gluten-free pastry case.
Change The Size: Make individual butterscotch tartlets using single tartlet tins.
Why Is My Butterscotch Sauce Lumpy?
If your butterscotch sauce is lumpy then it’s likely that the flour and milk mixture wasn’t mixed thoroughly enough. The flour and milk need to be mixed well otherwise when added to the melted butter and sugar lumps will form.
If you find lumps in your sauce, use a sieve to remove the lumps.
- 23cm Fluted Tart Tin: Makes around 10 slices. Use a non-stick and loose base tart tin for easy removal.
- Baking Beans: Used for blind baking pastry, the weight of the beans prevents the pastry from rising when baking in the oven. You can use rice if you don’t have baking beans.
- Parchment Paper: Prevents the baking beans from baking into and sticking to the pastry.
How To Store & Freeze Butterscotch Tart
To store, place the butterscotch tart in the fridge and eat within 5 days. If you’re decorating the tart with fruit, it’s best to eat it within 1 to 3 days or the fruit will start to weep in the fridge.
Butterscotch tart can last up to 5 days in the fridge but it’s best eaten within 1 to 2 days.
Butterscotch tart is made of shortcrust pastry filled with a rich and creamy butterscotch sauce filling similar to caramel. The filling is typically made from butter, sugar, milk, flour and butterscotch essence.
Gypsy tart and butterscotch tart are not the same, though they are very similar.
The main differences are that gypsy tart is made with just two ingredients: dark brown sugar and evaporated milk. It’s also baked in the oven (as opposed to being heated over a stove like butterscotch tart) making the texture more dense and fudgy with a greater caramelised flavour.
Caramel tart and butterscotch tart are very similar but they differ slightly. The main difference is that caramel tarts use caster sugar whereas butterscotch tart uses light brown sugar. In addition, caramel tarts are typically baked in the oven whereas butterscotch tarts are heated over a stove.
More Old School Desserts
Love old school dinner recipes? Yes, then you’re going to love these recipes below:
Butterscotch Tart Recipe
- 350 g Plain Flour
- 230 g Butter
- 100 g Caster Sugar
- 2 tbsp Water Or Milk
Butterscotch Sauce Filling
- 230 g Unsalted Butter
- 230 g Light Brown Sugar
- 6 tbsp Plain Flour
- 7 tbsp Milk
- ¼ tsp Salt (Optional)
- 1 tsp Butterscotch Essence
- Add flour and sugar to a food processor or mixing bowl and mix until evenly distributed. Then add butter to the food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you’re using your hands rub the butter into the flour and sugar mixture.
- Add a few tablespoons of water (or milk) and mix together until the pastry dough has formed. Use your hands to bind the dough together. Wrap the sweet shortcrust pastry in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (gas mark 4, 160°Fan) On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the pastry 5mm thick and lay it over a greased tart tin. Use your fingers to trim away any excess pastry. With a fork, prick the pastry base.
- Place a layer of parchment paper on top of the pastry and add baking beans. Blind bake in the oven for 15 minutes then remove the parchment paper and baking beans and bake for a further 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Mix plain flour and milk together in a small mixing bowl and set aside for later use.
- Melt butter and sugar together in a pan over a low to medium heat.
- Slowly add the flour and milk mixture and mix well until evenly distributed.
- Leave the mixture to simmer until thickened, at this stage the mixture should be bubbling. This should take around 6 to 10 minutes.
- Once thickened, remove the pan from the heat and add salt and butterscotch essence (optional), then leave the butterscotch mixture to cool down for 5 minutes.
- Pour the butterscotch filling into the cooled pastry case and leave it to cool down at room temperature before placing it in the fridge to set for 3 to 4 hours (overnight for best results).
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