Butterscotch Tart – Memory Lane Of The British School Lunch

Apr 25, 2012 by

Anyone that grew up in the U.K. would attest to how the school dinner hall was the birthplace of mastery in how to avoid eating. The canteen or ‘dinner hall’ was policed by old ladies with blue rinsed hair, and in the eyes of a 6 year old, they were evil. As for the food; there was beef that revealed ‘radioactive’ shades of grey and peas that smelt like manure. And we ate it day after day, with the same sense of dread and nausea.

However, there was one saving grace. It came at the end of the meal and was a great way to learn that ‘the best things come to those who wait… and persevere’. Good old-fashioned English desserts. Not even the most ‘haute’ of desserts stood a chance next to these gooey treats. When everything else at the buffet line looked like it had jumped off a conveyer belt, these soft cakey-puddings conjured up images of a granny in warm slippers baking away in her little cottage.

The tongue nuzzled with jam roly poly, lemon meringue pie, warm apple crumble with hot custard and of course butter scotch tart. Butterscotch tart was amongst my favorite. It boasted of a toffee cream – so smooth that it glided over the tongue whilst its pastry vessel added robustness and a very buttery crunch. Whilst my kids were spared the blue rinse police, they certainly got to experience the brighter side of British school lunches.



Tart Shell
4 oz All Purpose Flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp granulated sugar
2oz cold butter
1 egg

Butterscotch Filling
17oz demerara sugar
8oz butter
6oz milk
2 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. of sea salt crystals


Tart Shell
1) Add egg, butter, salt and sugar to food processor and pulse until they are the size of small lentils
2) Add the egg and pulse a few times just until it comes together. DO NOT overwork the dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes t rest
3) Roll out until it is 2mm thick. Grease your tart shell pan. Gently slide a rolling pin under the dough and lay over the pan. Push in to the pan corners and trim around the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
4) Prod holes in the pastry with a fork (docking) and blind bake* at 400 degrees until golden brown around the edges (for approximately 20 minutes). Remove the weights and foil
*To blind bake, line the pastry with some foil and fill the foil with beans to or pastry beads to hold down the pastry from rising.


Butterscotch Filling
1) In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the milk and sugar until and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the flour. Remove from heat once the butterscotch sauce thickens coats the back of a spoon

Pour the butterscotch in the baked tart shell. Allow to cool and refridgerate. Sprinkle with sea salt.


  1. steve

    Do you know the name of the cream, that was usually served with the Butterscotch Tart at School, or have a recipe for it?. As kids, we used to call it Shaving foam!.

    Many thanks.

  2. debbie

    Hi, shaving foam from school was not dream topping. I have just made the original shaving foam and it’s spot on! The recipe is 1 pint water, 2 1/2 oz dried skimmed milk powder, 1 oz cornflour, 2 oz sugar and 2 tsp vanilla essence. Make by mixing the milk powder and cornflour with a little of the water to make a paste. Add the rest of the water and cook on until boiling and it will look like custard. Put into a large bowl and leave to go completely cold. The whisk until double in size (takes about 7 mins) then whisk in the sgar and vanilla essence. Good luck!

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