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.
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.
1/2 C butter
1/2 C corn syrup
1 C washed and dried raisins
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.
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.