Friday, December 07, 2007

Butter tart recipe

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!

9 comments:

Eileen said...

Wasn't Meg great? You have to read her stuff. Bring Kleenex.

I think that one of the things missing from modern culture is not enough songs about lard.

Maureen McGowan said...

I KNOW. More lard songs. NOW.

Christine d'Abo said...

Lord, I love butter tarts. I too, missed them when I lived in Virginia. I've written down your recipe and will give it a try.

And as soon as I saw that jingle, I remembered it LOL!

Sara Hantz said...

OMG I LOVE treacle tart!!!!!! I'm salivating at the thought.

Joanne said...

Yanno, being that I'm Jewish, I just can't bear the thought of lard. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat bacon and pork chops, but lard just feels so wrong, sort of like having a big glass of milk with a cheeseburger (yes, the irony is not lost on me: cheeseburger). BUT I would eat my own arm if it was wrapped in a pastry and LOVE butter tarts. Thanks for the recipe; I just might try these.

so much for the diet.

L.A. Mitchell said...

What did me in on the whole "lard" concept was living in a border town (Mexico, not Canada) and watching shoppers fill their grocery carts with 20 gallon buckets of lard. Made me short of breath just watching the check out line :O

Kimber Chin said...

Oh, butter tarts, my fave!
Love, love, love them
(a bit too much, judging from the size of my butt).

Two more weeks and I'll be off to see the master butter tart maker (my Mom).

BTW... they freeze well too.
Sometimes I prefer them semi-frozen.

Barrie said...

Oh my gosh! I can't believe we're both posting about butter tarts! I just baked them yesterday to take to a Christmas party! You probably bake them at 450. That's what my recipe is. And I use a tart shell made with..butter...not lard. :) Seriously, I had no idea you posted about butter tarts too. How weird...

Wylie Kinson said...

Mmmm butter tarts.
I have my mom's recipe (pretty much the same as yours!) but I'm afraid to make them...
'cause I'll be the one to eat them. ALL.

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