n. — Food, especially Ontario
a tart with a filling made of butter, eggs and sugar, often with raisins or nuts added.
Type: 2. Preservation — The butter tart is considered a classic Canadian pastry, although, like other recipes and cooking ingredients, it originated in the UK (see berry sugar).
The first printed recipe for butter tarts found so far appears in a cookbook published in 1900 by the Women's Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Barrie, Ontario (see the 1900 and 2008 quotations). It is likely, however, that the origin of the pastry is older, since recipes are often passed down in families, either orally or on handwritten cards, which is why we opt for Type 2 - Preservation rather than Type 1 - Origin in Canada.
The origins of the pastry may be found in the French Canadian "tarte au sucre" (see the third 2007 quotation) though its filling usually omits the egg. Other similar tarts and pies use syrups or other sweeteners (see also Casselman (2006), s.v. "butter tart"). As Chart 1 shows, the term is most frequent in Canada. Within Canada, it is Ontario that uses the term most often, followed by (bordering) Manitoba, and, further East, Nova Scotia; the term is more popular in the Yukon Territory than in other Canadian locations.
See also Gage-3, s.v. "butter tart", which is marked "Cdn.", ITP Nelson, s.v. "butter tart", which is marked "Canadian", COD-2, which marks the term "Cdn".
See also: berry sugar Nanaimo bar blueberry grunt
- 1900  FILLING FOR TARTS--One cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 1 cup currants; mix. Fill the tarts and bake.
MRS. MALCOM MACLEOD
- 1931  English Butter Tart or Georgian Room Ice Cream
- 1936  BUTTER TART FILLING. One tablespoon butter, 2 eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, vanilla, cream, sugar and butter; add eggs, well beaten, flour and vanilla. This makes 16 tarts. Currants or chopped raisins may be added.
- 1950  Confectioners have often told me that the butter tart is a great leader with them.
- 1973  Buttered toast with jam or marmalade - 20 cents; [...] butter or fruit tart - 10 cents; assorted pies - 25 cents [...]
- 1978  Wodehouse was one of those harmless eccentricities, like a fancy for Tolkien or Iris Murdoch or butter tarts, that was morally defensible and socially acceptable but should not be made too much of. If I've never felt personally deficient, or guilty, about this lack, neither have I felt a need to be rude to Wodehouse or his admirers.
- 1987  Dear Edith Adams: I've lost your recipe for butter tart bars - the one that doesn't have raisins or currants in the filling. Hope you can find it. - N.B., Richmond.
- 1999  My calorie chart at home tells me that one tiny, wee, little buttertart carries 280 calories!
- 2005  (2009)  Forget the beaver, forget the glorious maple leaf, forget the majestic and haunting loon – for all these years the country has completely overlooked the most important contribution to our identity as a nation, the butter tart…. The delicate crust supports the rich and creamy centre just as the oceans border our natural resources and the people and the animals that dwell here. Variations and sizes of butter tarts abound, just as there are so many varied cultures living harmoniously in our wonderful country. The Americans have their symbols and sayings, eagles and apple pies, bombs and movie stars. We have the butter tart. Born and baked in this incredible land of ours to be a constant reminder of how sweet and likeable we are.
- 2007  "We love their butter tarts and their Tim Horton's coffee. We miss it so much actually when we go back to the States. We really do love coming to Canada."
- 2007  When I travel abroad, I know there's no point asking for lobster rolls, butter tarts, Beaver Tails or Red River cereal; those foodstuffs and those phrases are unique to Canada.
- 2007  If there's a classic Canadian dessert, the butter tart is it. The tart's history has been traced back to the arrival of the filles de marier in the mid-1600s. To fill their tartes, these imported brides from France had to make do with what they found in their new larders: maple syrup or sugar, farm-fresh butter and dried fruit (read raisins).
Today's butter tarts are as distinctive as the Canadians who bake and eat them.
- 2008  Local residents have one more reason to love butter tarts.
According to a recent article in Toronto Life, "the first known recipe for butter tart filling -- the voluptuous mix of eggs, butter, sugar and currents -- appeared in a cookbook produced by the Royal Victoria Hospital's Woman's Auxiliary in Barrie in 1900, attributed to one Mrs. Malcolm MacLeod."
Not long after, this yummy pastry became a dessert fixture in many southern Ontario homes.
- 2014  Calista recommends the kuchen, a slab of gently sweetened, yeasted dough topped with apple compote and crumbly streusel. It's delicious and addictive, as is a buttertart that leaves me covered in flakes of pastry.
- 2016  Ontario's Best Butter Tart Festival is fast approaching, and organizers are promising it will be the sweetest one yet.
The fourth annual event is set for June 11, and organizers hope to attract thousands of visitors to Midland. The hours have been extended to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in order to deal with all the additional events and interest.
Last year's event drew 25,000 visitors, with 80,000 butter tarts being sold. [...] "You can't get butter tarts in the United States," he explained. "We have a lot of Canadian expatriates coming up and buying three dozen to take home."