A recent email from E. Knight reminiscing about the Tec Voc butter tarts made under the guidance of longtime culinary instructor Mr. Chapman touched off a flurry of correspondence.
The school's famous butter tarts have been featured in Recipe Swap before, but they are such favourites, and the response was so immediate, that they deserve another go-round. Thanks to Carole Withers, Donna Gylywoychuk, Jean Wilson, Yvonne Miller, Mrs. Dean Britton, Sylvia Gabriel, Audrey McCrady and Sylvia Moloney.
I received many letters with memories of Syd Chapman and his butter tarts, as well as accounts of lunch schemes in which one person would reserve a table while another got in line to snag as many tarts as possible before they were gone.
For this week's recipe, Tec Voc librarian Karen Hanuschuk, who has helped out Recipe Swap before, sent in two slightly different butter tart fillings, and I've included her preferred version. (She also adds that the current Tec Voc butter tart includes corn syrup.)
Lynne McCarthy and Deanna Cohen both found a pastry recipe to go with the filling in a 50th anniversary Tec Voc cookbook. And Joan Anderson offered a scaled-down version of the butter tart filling, which is handy if you're not feeding a crowd, from a recipe kept from Mr. Chapman's Grade 9 cooking class.
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30 ml (2 tbsp) butter, melted
250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar
0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) salt
150 ml (2/3 cup) currants or raisins
1 egg, beaten
2 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla
Pastry equivalent to a single crust pie
Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F). In a medium bowl, place melted butter. Add other ingredients and mix. Place filling in unbaked tart shells and bake small tarts 12-15 minutes or large tarts 20-25 minutes.
-- From Mr. Chapman's Grade 9 cooking class book
Tester's notes: The recipe doesn't give detailed instructions for tart size or number. Whatever size you make, you want to fill about three-quarters full (butter tart overflow can be messy). If you want the tarts a little runny -- and that seems to be what people loved best about these treats -- these baking times might be too long. If you prefer some gooeyness, watch the tarts so that the filling is puffed but still a little jiggly in the middle when you take them out of the oven. (It will thicken up a bit as it cools.) I made 24 small tarts in a mini-muffin pan, but found that the filling was done before the pastry. I got better results using 10 cm (4 in) rounds of pastry in a standard muffin pan and baking for about 15 minutes.
900 ml (4 cups) pastry flour
425 ml (1 3/4 cups) shortening
175 ml (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 ml (1/4 tsp) milk powder
1 ml (1/4 tsp) baking powder
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
175 ml (3/4 cup) cold water
In large bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add shortening. Mix until crumbly. Make a well in the crumb mixture and add water and egg. Mix until doughy but do not overmix.
-- From the 50th Anniversary Tec Voc Cookbook
Tester's notes: This isn't the flakiest pastry I've ever made, but it is very easy to handle. That helps with tarts, which can be fiddly and fragile with really delicate pastry. (Confession: I left out the milk powder because I couldn't justify buying a whole bag for 1/4 teaspoon.)
Tec Voc Butter Tart Filling
900 ml (4 cups) brown sugar
250 ml (1 cup) shortening or butter
150 ml (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt (if you use butter, omit the salt)
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
500 ml (2 cups) currants
Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F). In large bowl, cream sugar and shortening or butter. Blend in flour and salt. Add eggs, vanilla and currants all at once and stir until blended together. Do not overmix. Fill shells and bake for 15 minutes.
Tester's notes: Karen Hanuschuk uses butter for her tarts. (They are called butter tarts, after all.) Again, you'll want to fill the tart shells about three-quarters full and watch the baking times to get your preferred tart consistency -- less time, maybe, for runny and a little more for firm.