My mother was not much of a baker, so I have no fond memories of home baked cookies, unless they were the refrigerator kind you slice and bake.
When I was married, I gained a grandmother-in law who baked all kinds of things, cakes, brownies and butter tarts. The tarts were the most popular, and she had to make extra for family gatherings to keep everyone happy.
I loved her butter tarts, and occasionally attempted to make my own. Let me tell you, they are a lot of work. Not the filling, but the rolling out and cutting of all that pastry. I now take the easy way out, and use a frozen tart shell (I find Tenderflake the best) and so far the kids and grandkids haven’t complained.
What I hadn’t realized, is that butter tarts are a particular Canadian thing. My sister, who lives in Florida, looks for butter tarts whenever she comes north.
Apparently a butter tart is a type of small pastry highly regarded in Canadian cuisine and is considered one of Canada’s quintessential desserts. The tart consists of a filling made of sugar, butter and eggs, baked in a pastry shell. Recipes vary, as do the additives, like walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips and so on.
A butter tart is usually runnier than, say, pecan pie, due to the omission of corn syrup.
A few years ago I heard about a tourist event called the Butter Tart Tour in the Kawartha/Peterbourough districts. They included a map of the area with all the participating bakeries that offered butter tarts.
There was a problem though. Another area of Ontario had started what they called The Butter Tart Trail. This sparked some controversy, and some heated discussions. It was even written up in the Canadian Living Magazine.
I was reminded of all this as I went on a day trip Friday to Belleville, and visited one of my favourite stores...A Taste of Country. The store is located just north of the city, in an old stone farmhouse with a board and batten addition.
When you walk in the door the bakery smells are enticing. There is a freezer section selling meat, vegetables and other assorted frozen foods. The bakery offers fresh bread, rolls, cookies, and, you know it, butter tarts. I bought a package of two, as I know they are so good I could eat them all, so I limit myself.
The rooms of the original house offer a variety of goods. Lots of signs, metal and wood, some kids’ books, toys and candles. There are calendars, jewellery, some clothing and a host of kitchen gadgets including all of those country chair cushions, place mats and linens.
It was a good day, and I can recommend the tarts. Our next day trip we’re going to Campbellford. They have a cheese factory, the World’s Finest Chocolate Outlet, and two of the butter tart bakeries from the tour.