Tag Archives: baked goods

Butter Tart Recipe

Context:

This recipe for butter tarts was passed down to the informant, AS, by her mother and is directly transcribed. Butter tarts are common in the area of Ontario where she grew up (Blenheim), though she says that every family has their own variation on the recipe. Other varieties often include nuts along with the raisins. To AS’s knowledge, they are not particularly associated with any holiday or specific tradition.

Main Piece:

Butter Tarts
Pastry  1 1/2 C sifted all purpose flour  1 1/2 C sifted cake and pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1C shortening  About 8 Tbsp. cold water.
Filling
1/2 C butter
1/2 C corn syrup
1 C washed and dried raisins
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice
 1 tsp. vanilla
To make pastry, sift the sifted flours with the salt and cut in the shortening with pastry blender until size of peas. Drizzle in water 1 Tbsp. at a time, tossing with a fork, until you can gather it up into a dampish ball between your palms. Roll out very thinly on floured board. Cut out rounds and line medium sized tart tins with them.  Note I would buy tart shells !!!!
To make filling, mix all filling ingredients. Spoon into prepared tart shells, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 425 13 to 15 min. WATCH CAREFULLY.
Enjoy.

Analysis:

Family recipes are a very tangible way to pass tradition down through generations. For one thing, parents generally cook for their children, so the recipes have already been integrated into the children’s lives, and once the children learn to cook, they often learn from their parents. If the children later move far away from their parents, as AS did, family recipes can be a great way to bring back a taste of home. I find it very interesting that the informant mentioned that many families in this area of Ontario have their own recipes for Butter Tarts, some with nuts in the filling. The multiplicity and variation establishes Ontario Butter Tart recipes firmly within the category of folklore.

The format of the recipe also speaks to the proliferation of folklore on the internet and its transmission through digital means. During our conversation where I collected this piece of folklore, AS told me she would send me her mother’s recipe so that I could have that exact recipe that had been passed down through the generations, since she did not remember all the details. When she did send it to me, it was in the form of the email that her mother used to send her the recipe in April of 2020, then forwarded on to me. The original subject line is “Butter Tart Recipe,” and reads: “Hi [AS first name] and [AS’s son’s name]:” and then the above copy/pasted recipe. Also attached to the forwarded email I received was the reply that AS sent back, reading, “Thanks Mom! We’ll let you know how it goes.” This illustrates how the internet allows folklore to spread down family lines even when different generations of the family are separated by thousands of miles of distance. The intended recipients of the emailed recipe being AS and her son also informs the idea that AS asked for this family recipe in order to make it with the next generation of her family, to pass on the practice just like her mother did to her.

Baking Challah and Learning New Bread Recipes During Quarantine

The speaker would bake bread and then leave it uncovered in the apartment’s shared kitchen area. Slowly, bits of Challah would disappear from the loaf.

My friend baked a lot of bread after the USC autumn semester ended, and the kitchen filled with bagels, pretzels, pizza, focaccia and Challah. I especially liked the Challah, which maintained a doughy taste after baking. I liked the bread because it was dense. My friend topped his Challah with salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. He has made Challah three times so far, and every time the braided bread recipe tastes different.

*

The speaker first started baking Challah because he liked how it looked, and he was high the first time he made the recipe. Challah is a Jewish bread, but the speaker does not come from a Jewish heritage. “I’m not Jewish at all. I went to… 15 years of Catholic school. People always mistake me for being Jewish. On the street in New York City.  Because, I don’t know. I’m kind of like a curly haired kid. I think that’s part of it. But also my high school is next door to like, a bunch of like, Jewish, like elementary and middle schools. There were a lot of like, you know, like practicing Jewish people around that area.”

The speaker went to a Jesuit high school and a Franciscan elementary school. He lived in a community with Dominican friars, but his father is Italian. His mother is half-Irish, He uses a scale to measure ingredients and called Challah a ‘crowd favorite.’ He enjoys learning about folklore and he researched Challah when he first made the bread.

“Turns out you’re supposed to take a little chunk of it and wrap it in tinfoil and just like scorch it. And be like, say ‘this is Challah.’ But in Hebrew culture you’re like, sacrificing a piece sort of. I feel like it’s a little bit like, kinda like pagan. Like, sacrifice. But like yeah, you don’t eat that piece. You burn it until it’s nothing.”

This speaker makes a lot of baked goods at the apartment, including edibles. He sometimes sells his edibles, but he never sold Challah. Over time, he learned to hide the Challah so that tenants did not eat the bread. One time he made the bread so that it was too dense, and fewer tenants ate that particular Challah.

*

I know that the speaker did not like that tenants took his Challah, but I really enjoyed eating this bread, even if I knew it wasn’t mine. When he made the third loaf, I began to leave fruit or other offerings in exchange for the bread I had taken. Even though other people baked food for the apartment, these dishes were usually made for a birthday or special occasion. Challah was made whenever. The speaker did not need an excuse to bake this braided Jewish bread.

I could tell that the speaker was proud of his work. He and others would sometimes ask me to watch over their bread so that no one else would steal it. I would tell them not to trust me- but I’m glad that they asked me to be their bread guardian in any case.

This is similar to the description of Ethnic Groups in chapter 2 of Folk Groups & Folklore Genres by Elliot Oring. In this chapter, the author mentions that some young adults of Jewish heritage make Cholent because it is convenient, not because they observe the Sabbath meal. While this speaker does not share Jewish heritage, he takes part in Jewish traditions via recipes found on the internet.

How to Sugar Potica

Potica is a traditional Slovenian nut roll made from walnuts, coffee, rum, lemon, and caramel served around Christmas and Easter, as a celebration of Christ. After it is baked, it must be chilled, then flipped rising-side down, sliced, and dusted with sugar on the flat side of the loaf. My grandmother always said that if you dusted the loaf on the wrong side, you offened God’s tastebuds.

My grandmother is a very religious woman, as are most member of my extended family. In fact, much of that side of my mother’s family is populated with clergy members. She was also a chef when she was younger, so she developed a devout sensibility for food. She taught my mother this sugar technique, who in turn taught me the same practice. Now potica tastes worse if it is sugared on the wrong side.

Filipino ensaymada (cheese bread roll)

ITEM:
Dough: flour, melted butter, whole eggs, yeast?, cream of tartar for texture
Form the dough
Let it rise once
Separate it into clumps
Roll it out so each clump is very flat
Brush it with semi-soft butter — very, very buttery
Flat piece of dough is rolled into a cylinder and then coiled into the roll, adding parmesan cheese and sugar to the inside of the coil
Afterward doing that with all the rolls, let them rise again
Left to bake — afterward, brush with more melted butter and roll with more cheese and sugar

BACKGROUND:
The informant ate it growing up whenever she went to her lola’s (grandmother’s) house, who would make it as snack food (symbol of hospitality). It was one of the many snacks she’d make whenever the informant and her sister would visit amongst the summer.

Ensaymada is definitely a Filipino dish, found in bakeries both big and small. Everywhere has a different take on it but obviously, “my grandmother’s is the best.” When the informant got older, her lola would try teaching it to them by making it in front of them and they’d help mix the ingredients and form the rolls, but she doesn’t exactly know what goes into the dough. Her lola would even mail these rolls to both the informant’s mother and her, because she said “You guys don’t do it right.”

CONTEXT:
The informant is one of my housemates. She isn’t really involved in Filipinio cultural practices, but does have deep connections to family who are. She told me the story of her lola in conversation.

ANALYSIS:
Filipino culture, like many Asian cultures, is very food-centric — additionally, it’s fun to collaborate and plan meals together, but these meals also symbolized hospitality and, in the informant’s case, grandmotherly love, a way to keep her there even when she wasn’t physically present. In the informant’s words: “It’s one thing to share your meal times with us, but it’s another thing to have a physical symbol of ‘your house is my house’.”