We’ve been having a lot of potluck dinners here – the best way to feed all 25 students in our program. And usually, people bring something typical of their home country: Somalian samosas, Brazilian brigadeiro and lots of cheese, bread and pasta from the Italians. This was all a reminder of how few, truly ‘Canadian’ foods there are, in comparison to other countries. As a result of this (and the small, basic grocery stores in my town), I brought a Panzanella salad to our last dinner: a Sicilian dish and very much not Canadian.
But I wanted to make something for a future dinner that was symbolic of Canada and something I was proud of. I asked my Mum to send me my grandmother’s butter tart recipe and today, feeling nostalgic for home, I set out to make them. All of Nanny’s recipes are amusing in that they include almost no instruction; she was an amazing baker who could make something (amazing) out of nothing, and her nonspecific recipes always emphasize that skill to me.
The whole process of making these tarts would best be described as ‘makeshift’. The grocery store didn’t have brown sugar, so I had to use cane sugar. And I remembered halfway through making them that, in fact, I did not own a rolling-pin. But they turned out very well and I’m excited to share them with my classmates soon.
I’m still feeling a little homesick, but making this recipe today helped me feel a bit closer to everyone back in Canada. The whole process brought me right back to past days cooking in my grandmother’s cottage kitchen and even cooking with my mum in our own. They are truly sweet memories – both in taste and in feeling.
(There is a recipe card at the end of this post for printing)
Nanny’s Butter Tarts
Makes 12 tarts
Ingredients: (I apologize for the measurements, you may need a scale for this)
For the dough:
285 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
140 g cold butter
110 g ice water
For the filling:
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten
3 tbsp melted butter
1 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
2. Put the salt and flour into a medium bowl
3. Grate the butter on top, add in the water and mix together just until it forms a ball. Let sit for 30 minutes
4. Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar, egg, butter, raisins and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside.
5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Get creative if you don’t have a rolling-pin (at least I used something local!)
6. Cut circles of dough to fit your pan or tins. These are better with thinner dough (1/2 – 1/4 inch)
7. Divide the filling between the tart shells
8. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pasty is browned and cooked. Enjoy!
- 285 g flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 140 g butter
- 110 g ice water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- 2. Add the flour and salt to a medium bowl
- 3. Grate the butter in and add the ice water. Mix just until it comes together and set aside for 30 minutes
- 4. Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar, egg, butter, raisins and vanilla together in a small bowl
- 5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (you want it to be 1/2 - 1/4 inch thick)
- 6. Cut the dough into circles to fit your pan or baking tins
- 7. Divide the filling between the tart shells
- 8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the dough is browned and cooked through