Here is my recipe for butter tarts as discussed on my Food Sleuth report on Q with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio One which aired June 29, 2009.
The following are the two best butter tarts I found after much sleuthing in Toronto and vicinity:
Dianna Weirmier’s amazingly delicious tarts sold at the Stratford Farmers Market in Stratford, Ont., open on Saturdays from 7 am until noon and Wednesdays from 3 to 7 pm.
The tarts at Queen’s Bush Bistro on Main St., in Mount Forest, Wellington County, Ont.
Well-known Canadian artist and butter tart aficionado Charles Pachter cites the tarts at Wilkie’s Bakery in Orillia, Ont., as his longtime favourites.
Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook (Random House), this produces the best home-made butter tart I’ve tried: flaky, melt-in-the mouth pastry with a gooey but not too runny filling. And they’re a cinch to make.
Use proper baking method for dry ingredients: measuring scoops or spoons and a knife to slice off the top, not a measuring cup.
You can make dough in a food processor instead of by hand. I found a 28-oz/796-mL can works perfectly for cutting it into rounds.
I like maple syrup in the filling; it tastes great and fits the all-Canadian theme. Substitute coarsely chopped nuts, e.g. pecans, for raisins, if desired.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup cold butter, cubed
¼ cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cubed
I large egg yolk
I tsp white vinegar
¼ cup ice-cold water
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup maple or golden corn syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice
2 tbsp softened butter
Pinch of salt
¼ to ½ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375F.
For pastry, combine flour and salt in large bowl. Using old-fashioned wire pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using fork, stir in egg yolk, vinegar and water until dough holds together. Wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
For filling, vigorously whisk together all ingredients except raisins in medium bowl until combined. (This can be done in food processor.)
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface until fairly but not too thin. Using 4-inch/10 cm round cookie cutter or empty 28-oz/796-mL can, cut into 12 rounds to fit 3-inch/8 cm cups of muffin tin. Divide raisins between each pastry shell; spoon on filling.
Bake in oven 15 to 18 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool in pan about 2 minutes. Run knife or small metal spatula around edge of each tart; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12 butter tarts.
To hear the 1991 Peter Gzowski “What makes a great butter tart?” interview with Marion, Charles Pachter and Max Burns, click here.