You mentioned butter tarts?

Taking on the townships’ tart tour

  • Health   Wed, Jun 16th, 2021   Nancy Silcox
These delicious, plain, butter tarts from Snyder’s Family Farm south of New Dundee are for the tart purist but they also offer Oreo, Skor, and other over-the-top treats as Nancy Silcox discovered on the Townships’ Tart Tour. (Photo credit: Nancy Silcox)

These delicious, plain, butter tarts from Snyder’s Family Farm south of New Dundee are for the tart purist but they also offer Oreo, Skor, and other over-the-top treats as Nancy Silcox discovered on the Townships’ Tart Tour. (Photo credit: Nancy Silcox)

For almost 50 years Mapleton Township resident, Helen Moffett 79, had been entering her prized butter tarts in the Drayton Fall Fair, and for more times than she could remember, the Moffatt delicacies had taken first place.
Inspired more by curiosity than dreams of fame, Helen upped the stakes and hitched her wagon to the 2019 Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies Butter Tart Bake-off.
Crowned the best in her sticky-gooey field, Moffatt then shared her secret to success: “I just eyeball the ingredients; I never measure anything; it’s just the way I’ve done it for years.”
Ah, the divine butter tart! One of only three acknowledged “All Canadian Desserts,” the butter tart joins beaver tails and Nanaimo bars in Canadian culinary history.
First recognized in 1900 by Margaret McLeod in her fund-raising cookbook for the Royal Victoria Hospital Women’s Auxiliary in Barrie, the inaugural butter tart magazine recipe was published in 1931 by Chatelaine Magazine.
And while butter tart ingredients have varied over culinary eras, the basic ingredients for the sweet treat remain constant: eggs, corn syrup, butter and vanilla -nuts optional.
The public’s century-long love affair with the butter tart prompted this writer to tour some of Wilmot and Wellesley Townships’ eateries. Come along for the sweetest of times.
Bakin’ Us Keto Bakery -Wellesley
Sarah Demmerling, owner and creative spark behind Bakin’ Us Keto Bakery in Wellesley has good reason to tout the success of eating the keto way.
Following a keto-low carbohydrate, low sugar, gluten-free diet several years ago, she lost over 50 pounds. “And I’ve kept it off,” she adds, proudly.
So when the opportunity came in 2017 to open Bakin’ Us Keto Bakery on the main street of the village, she took the leap.
Remembering the mouth-watering butter tarts which her grandmother had taught her to make in childhood, baker Sarah made sure they were on the Bakin’ Us Keto menu. Adapted, of course, to the healthy keto way.
Fine-tuning her tart crust recipe was first-up. Sarah replaced wheat flour with gluten-free almond flour and waist-expanding sugar with erythritol, a sugar alcohol.
Taste-testing a happy marriage of butter, eggs, cream, vanilla and erythritol for sweetness, Sarah Demmerling produced the perfect keto butter tart -pecans too if requested.
“Providing delicious desserts without the guilt” is the way to go at Bakin’ Us Keto Bakery on Nafziger Road in Wellesley.
Keto brownies, cookies, cakes, and breads hit the spot too.
Snyder’s Family Farm -Bright
And the winner of the most prolific butter tart bakery in the Wilmot-Wellesley area goes to Snyder’s Farm, just south of New Dundee.
“Peak season, September to October, sees us baking over 20,000 butter tarts,” said Snyder’s head baker Natalie Tackaberry.
Three full-time bakers and several part-timers keep the treasures coming during these tart-obsessed weeks.
And while the traditional plain or with raisins both remain popular, it’s the Skor and Reese’s Pieces delicacies that have risen to the top for taste-testers in recent years.
“We just like to take our baking a bit over the top,” said Tackaberry.
But attention to detail still reigns number one in the Snyder universe.
“We worked a year to fine tune the basic recipe,” said the Chief Baker.
“Fine turning” means flaky pastry, substantial enough to hold together after a bite or two, and a decadent filling “not too runny, not too hard.”
And how have COVID shut-downs affected the bakery business? Snyder’s Family Farm aren’t complaining although they look forward to opening fully from their present curbside service.
It seems the Toronto crowd are up for a weekend drive to the country for a Snyder’s butter tart too. Four hundred butter tarts a week keep visitors happy to take the rural drive.
Angie’s Country Kitchen -St. Agatha
If the mouth-watering image of made-from-scratch butter tarts instantaneously calls up great country meals at Angie’s Country Kitchen of St. Agatha, you are not alone.
“Butter tarts were on Angie’s Kitchen Waterloo’s very first menu back in 1962,” said owner Mike Graham. “In fact we still use the same tart tins and Tupperware tart cutters as we did in the beginning days.”
And to what do the Grahams attribute a six-decade, public love affair with the sweet and syrupy treat?
“It’s the lard in the crust that makes them so flaky,” said Mike. “And we use lots of eggs—90 eggs a batch that keeps them from being overly runny and gooey,” added daughter Rachel.
The handmade technique brings butter tart aficionados back time and time again, too. From hand-rolled crust to hand-stirred filling, to each tart individually lifted out of the well-loved tart tins, the 2021 version of Angie’s butter tarts would do founder Angie Graham proud.
One particular Angie’s butter tart lover seems to work his schedule around baking day.
“He’s in his 20’s, don’t know his name or where he’s from but he stops by every week and buys 18 Butter Tarts,” offered Rachel. Whether the lad gobbles them all himself or shares remains a fanciful mystery.
MeMe’s Café—New Hamburg
“Don’t get me started on the baked goods,” challenges one sweet tooth after a visit to MeMe’s in New Hamburg. Another echoes: “Baked goods that make your mouth water.”
MeMe’s butter tarts have taken their place as favourites at the ever-popular café since its opening in 2001.
“Everything is from the house kitchen and created by Chef Daniel Langer,” said owner Meredith Hagen. “And we’ve been making 8-10 dozen tarts every week since we opened.”
Not that the recipe hasn’t been tweaked towards diners changing tastes over those years.
“The crust is a special process,” said Hagen. “Flaky and just a wee bit salty.”
Chef Daniel has “played around with Hagen’s Aunt Cora’s original filling too, over the years.”
“We’re proud to use local ingredients like eggs and maple syrup too,” said hometown booster Hagen.
Competing for customers’ sweet tooth with MeMe’s favourites like lemon bars and health cookies, Hagen explained their enduring popularity. “They’re just delicious,” she laughed.