Mother Day is around the corner! Reading an email from Paula Dean reflecting on her Mom! http://www.pauladeen.com/index.php/tier_2/view/my_mommas_gift/ left me thinking about my Mom and her impact on my life.
To me my thoughts were of the home she had made during and after the death of her husband at an early age. Home revolved around the kitchen, memories of good conversation, and food. The door was always opened to friends and relatives!
What was her specialty? She did everything so well! Jonathan her grandson talked of her soups in his eulogy. A birthday treat for me was her delicious walnut or lemon poppy seed chiffon which froze so well and were such a treat when slices were cut and eaten frozen!! Yet as I sit at my kitchen table and look at the snow covered yard, pastry, in particular Butter Tats come to mind!
Flaky, tender golden brown crust filled with oozy buttery filling as you bit into this delicious treat! How could one resist this butter tart! Coming home from work and being greeted by the sweet buttery vanilla smell of freshly baked tarts especially when I was able to take them to work knowing that Mom would easily make another batch without asking!
Yes, I have made butter tarts but somehow have never perfected the flakiness or the gooey goodness of the perfect butter tart!.
Here is a recipe close to Mom’s recipe, although I doute she ever measured anything that accurately!
As far as the pastry working in a hot kitchen during harvest season along with canning and making pies for the workers during threshing season and then working in kitchens at restaurants, she did not follow any of suggested rules in making pastry. Rules such as icy cold surface for rolling out the pastry, careful handling and so on. Her butter tarts were legendary in a northern Manitoba town when she worked at a Bus Depot, where her baking such as tarts, pies, buns and muffins were shipped daily further north in Manitoba to The Pas and Thompson on Grey Hound. In fact, my husband heard about Mom’s culinary skills in Winnipeg from a co worker while working in this Northern town was proudly taken by Manitoba Hydro to their regular soup and sandwich spot for lunch followed by coffee and a butter tart! My husband was proud to tell him that the cook was his mother in law!
I had previously scanned a hand written recipe by my Aunt that she had from my Mom.
The recipe I use comes from Blue Ribbon cookbook, 13th edition-1970. My Mom had looked over this recipe and felt it closely followed her recipe as the recipe used corn syrup which has a rich buttery taste.
¼ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup Corn syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Cream butter and sugar add corn syrup, eggs, extract and vinegar. Beat with a whisk or hand mixer until fluffy and lemon color. Mom would drop raisins into the bottom of the tart shells Spoon butter filling into tart shells. This mixture rises when cooked so only fill 2/3 full. Mom used the medium sized muffin tins. Her pastry over lapped slightly and then she would pinch it in three places. Her pastry was flaky and tender using lard, flour and water. . The closet I’ve come to her pastry recipe is using 2/3 cup of lard, 2 cups flour and 7 – 8 tablespoon of ice cold water. Yes, it is lard! My rationale is how often does one eat pastry and lard makes it most flaky! Mom use to say rendered duck fat made the best pastry! She always baked her baking at 325, thus at a lower oven temperature but longer!
CBC has archived an interesting show on what makes a great Canadian Butter tart!
I believe that my mom had perfected the Butter Tarts and truly made it her own. This she did by finding a sense of pride in what she did no matter where she was. Happy Mother Day Mom!