Tuesday, 9 September 2014

5 Year "Canniversary"

Last week marked 5 years since I touched down in Toronto!  Visiting Canada for the first time ever, who knew I would still be here five years on!

And who knew, that 5 years later I STILL wouldn't have tried baking the perfectly Canadian treat of Butter Tarts!  ...  Now don't get me wrong, I have "tried" these delicious sweet bakes at many shops and bakeries all over the country but I had never actually made them myself.

So, 5 years on, I thought the 3rd September 2014 was definitely the right time to try them out - especially as we had guests for dinner that night too :-)

I used a Canadian Living recipe as a base for what I did but adapted it a little to my favourite flavours and ideas with how I wanted to do it.  Then I took a TONNE of photos - so sorry if I couldn't cut enough out, and left you with a whole load of pictures at the end of this post!  I was really enjoying capturing the texture of the gooey-but-cooked top layer of the tart, and getting the colours of the butter tart in the shots, all still experimenting with the light of our new home!


For the pastry ~
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup lard, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp white vinegar
Ice water

For the filling ~
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup golden corn syrup
1 1/2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
Pinch salt

I'll talk more about the other options for fillings a little later!


1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and the salt.

2.  With a pastry blender (or 2 knives) cut in the cubed butter and lard until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

3.  In a jug, whisk together the egg yolk and vinegar, and then add enough ice water to make up 1/3 cup (75ml).

4.  Sprinkle over the flour mixture and stir briskly with a fork until the pastry holds together.

5.  Press into a disc and wrap in cling-film (plastic wrap) and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. (To make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

6.  Preheat the oven to 450°F.

7.  After the pastry dough has had time to chill, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness.  Using a 4-inch (10cm) round cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles, rerolling the scraps if necessary.  * Or if you are extremely silly on this baking day, cut 11 circles and think you are cutting 12, even though you re-counted them!? ... Not recommended! *


7.  Fit into a greased cupcake baking tray and place in the refrigerator again while you make the filling.

8.  For the filling - In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt until blended.

9.  Spoon the filling into the chilled pastry cups until 3/4 full.

10.  Bake in the bottom third of the oven until the filling is puffed and bubbly, and pastry is golden - about 12 minutes.

11.  Let the butter tarts, still in the cupcake tray - stand for 1 minute on the rack.  Run a metal spatula around the tarts to loosen, carefully slide the spatula under tarts and transfer to the rack to cool.
12.  Let the butter tarts cool completely to allow the runny inside mixture set, but then enjoy!
... So, if you are not a fan of plain butter tarts, or if you would like to satisfy all butter tart desires, use these filling ingredients and ratios:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden corn syrup
1 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup filling - perhaps raisins, chopped walnuts, pecans or whatever your heart desires! 
The only difference in the method then is to add the filling ingredients to the pastry cups before pouring over the filling mixture. 
Next time I make these (and there will be a next time) I'll definitely experiment with more flavour and filling combinations!
And now......... the photos!  I definitely took too many and couldn't decide which to get rid of, so just keep scrolling! :-D

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Never Have I Ever...

... baked with COCONUT!! 

Usually all of my blog posts are me raving about foods, and tastes and flavours that I love - but not this time!!!  It was time to bake something that I wouldn't even be tasting.  All for my sister-in-law's 25th birthday :-D

Not a fan of anything that tastes, smells or even resembles coconut - this was a big adventure.  I've never used it in any recipes but luckily I found a recipe that used both lemon rind and shredded, sweetened coconut in it, and we all know I really do love lemon!

I used the same real raspberry buttercream as in these cupcakes back in May... some issues with too-soft butter and consistency, I think from the fruit, led to some (... by some I mean a lot) of frustration but the buttercream still worked out and tasted good, even if the piping was not favourable in my eyes!

I baked a double batch of these cupcakes, taken from a Canadian Living recipe (using only the cake part not the frosting) - with a dozen being the coconut ones, and a dozen without the coconut to be a delicious lemon flavour to accompany the raspberry frosting!  I'll write out the recipe for 12, the original with both lemon and coconut and leave it up to you whether to include the coconut or not - each to your own :-P


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
4 tsp lemon rind (for me this was the rind of one large lemon)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk


1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake tray with liners.

2.  In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.

3.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, lemon rind, baking powder, salt and coconut.

*** N.B. When I did my double batch, I actually added in the coconut after everything so that I could use half the batter as only lemon, so that's why the picture of the coconut is into the wet mixture - not the dry ***

5.  Stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture, alternately with the milk in between - making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of milk.

6.  Using a cookie scoop, spoon into the cupcake liners and bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.  The top should be lightly browned, springy to the touch and a cake tester should come out clean.

I noticed that without the coconut the cooking time was 18 minutes for me, but in the second batch that had the coconut inside as well - it was quite a bit longer, at around 24 minutes. 

7.  Remove from the cupcake pan and let them cool completely before frosting on a wire rack.

8.  In the meantime you can make your desired frosting - try the real raspberry buttercream I used to complement both the coconut and the lemon flavours :-)  Click here for the recipe!

So, even with meltage of butter causing a meltdown - the cupcakes were piped, and coconut ones were "labelled" with white pearls as decoration (I did NOT want to bite into a coconut cupcake by accident!) and taken to the birthday celebration!

The cupcakes were shared with lots of family, and then friends at the start of this week too!  They lasted quite well, and the coconut was appreciated by fans of the strange flavour!!

If you're a coconut fan like them, do give the recipe a try, or if, like me, do NOT like it - try the same recipe with only the lemon rind for the flavouring, that part was well worth it too!!  Enjoy this Summer treat :-D