So, there was some discussion of Tenderflake lard over on The Debutante Ball yesterday. Okay, it wasn't really a discussion of lard, but author Meg Tilly was guest blogging and a number of people who commented there had read her post about making pies on her own blog. And the secret to her pie crust -- Tenderflake lard.
All my childhood pie memories involve crust made with this lard and the jingle from the 1970's era ad: "When I bake a pie, for the apple of my eye, I bake it with a crust, I know that I can trust. I bake it so good, he can smell it from the yaaard. I'll tell you what my secret it, the secret is my laaard." [I've probably just violated someone's copyright. Ooops.]
I defy any Canadian at least in their mid thirties or older to tell me they don't know that jingle.
So back to my point. I mentioned my grandmother's butter tart recipe and the imprecision of some of the measurements. I love recipes like that. Cooking, like writing, is an art. Sure you need a plan and some structure and to follow some basic rules or it will be a big ol mess. But a little extra of this or that, and tossing something extra into the mix in the heat of the moment, can create real magic.
Anyway, I promised I'd post the recipe here, today. (I also promised I'd double check the details with my mom... which I didn't manage to do. So I hope I haven't misremembered anything.)
For those of you who've never heard of a butter tart (my American friends) let's just say the absence of this delectable treat on grocery and bakery shelves when I moved to the US almost made me want to move home immediately.
Butter tarts could be more aptly named sugar tarts. I guess the closest thing in US baking would be pecan pie and in the UK treacle. But it's not exactly like either of those things.
My grandma's butter tarts (as I remember the recipe)
- Cream a piece of butter the size of a shelled walnut with one cup of tightly packed brown sugar. (NB. The brown sugar in the US and UK aren't the same as Canadian brown sugar, either... but I did successfully make this recipe when I was living in the States. Go for the more golden kind. The soft stuff.)
- Beat one egg and stir into the butter/sugar until well blended
- Add one half teaspoon of vanilla and some lemon juice to taste
- Add a big handful of raisins (I always eyeball this. Maybe half cup?)
Pour into unbaked tart shells to about 3/4 full and bake
Okay, so the temperature is probably 350 F and for how long? They should bubble and the crust should go golden brown. I can't really remember, so keep an eye on them. Must be at least 20 minutes, I'd think.
Let me know if anyone tries to make them!