Thursday, February 5, 2015

Prize Butter Tarts

I love butter tarts - there, I've said it. Aloud. To you.

The ones I like best are the ones where the brown sugar is dissolved completely so there is no grainy sugar texture; gooey with just the right amount of runniness.  Everyone has their favorite family recipe and this one is mine.

99% of the time I can find someone who makes anything I can make 100 times better than I could make it. Hahah, now that's a sentence! I keep trying though, but these tarts, to me... are as good - if not better - than any I've found. The only improvement on what is written here is when the filling is paired with a homemade crust, but I had a bunch of tart shells in the freezer...and really, I'm thinking you won't mind, since you can't really taste what I'll have to trust me and make them for yourself! :)

The recipe I love is from the 1970's Five Roses Flour cook book and it must of held the test of time because it was in their 1938 cook book also. The only difference is that the cooking temperature changed to 375 F instead of starting at 450 F and being turned down to 350 F.   I go the easy route and bake at 375 for the entire time. Just easier than babysitting the tarts in the oven...but you are free to try the other way too.

The ingredients are simple and most likely you have everything in your cupboard right now to get started. I doubled the recipe and used raisins instead of currents ...and added some walnuts, but that's just my preference.

I've seen other recipes that do not mention melting the butter, which could be the issue I've encountered with grainy tasting tarts. The 1938 recipe below doesn't state melting the butter but the newer version does. I'm not sure if they meant to use room temperature butter or every housewife just knew to melt it. I personally think the latter; in 1938 I'm pretty sure you left the house being able to cook and bake,  unlike nowadays.

Prize Butter Tarts - ingredients

Mix everything together, except the raisins/currents, making sure the brown sugar is blended and well dissolved.  I'm using darker brown sugar, so the mix doesn't look all that appealing, but it is yummy none-the-less.

Prize Butter Tarts - blended sugar mixture

Stir in the raisins/currents and nuts (if you want them).

Prize Butter Tarts - mixture with nuts

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or grease your muffin tins if you are making your own pastry.  Fill the tart shells 2/3 full. A single batch of the butter tart mixture should make 12 tarts.

Prize Butter Tarts - Ready for the oven

Bake 375 F for 20 minutes or 450 F for 8 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 F and watch over them until they are nicely browned.

Prize Butter Tart

Let cool on the pan for a few minutes and then move to a baking sheet to cool a bit more. Careful, they have to cool a bit or the hot melted sugar can burn! After a sufficient amount of time - try not to eat more than one!

Prize Butter Tarts
Five Roses Flour - 1938 (pg 144)

Prize Butter Tarts - Five Roses Flour - 1938
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sifted brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk of cream
  • 12 cup currents
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pastry shells

Mix ingredients together and place spoonfuls of the mixture in patty tins which have been lined with rich pastry or cookie dough. Bake in a hot oven (450 F) for 8 minutes; reduce temperature to 350 deg F. and bake until pastry is delicately browned.

To make Taffy Tarts, use the same mixture with currents omitted.

Prize Butter Tarts - Five Roses Flour - 1970's

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sweetpotato Biscuits

I love sweetpotato; boiled, mashed, or roasted. So why not biscuits?

I found a recipe in the Culinary Arts Institute cookbook that I thought would be interesting to try and it didn't have a lot of ingredients either. Might I add that I still need to figure out the lighting in my place, but I'm a bit lazy – sorry :)

I gathered up all the ingredients, boiled and mashed the sweetpotatoes and set them aside to cool. 

Sweetpotato biscuits ingredients

I mixed up the flour, salt, and baking powder and set the oven to preheat. I 'cut' in the shortening using the tips of my fingers until it looked like coarse corn meal. For some reason I find this very satisfying and I like the feel of the flour and shortening at this stage, it makes me want to run my fingers through it. Sadly, it will melt the shortening or butter if I give in to that temptation :)

Sweetpotato biscuits flour and shortening

I mixed the milk with the mashed potatoes and was rightfully skeptical, it's a wee (by wee I mean A LOT) gloppy - that's my technical term for goopy runny mess.

I added the orange goop to the flour mixture and stirred quickly as the directions indicated. With the baking powder it became airy, but very sticky.  I think the recipe really needs more flour. I scraped it out onto the counter with a lot of flour. I think I must of added at least another 1/2 a cup or more. before I could pat it out enough to cut and not have it stick to everything. Kneading wasn't really a priority or feasible.

I used a cute little cup that I had purchased at Ikea years ago to cut the dough. I think it was a kids cup and came in a package of three. I loved them because of the little round bubbles encircling the bottom. I never use them really, they sit in my cupboard until I need something like this. I drink out of coffee cups all the time instead of glasses, go figure?! A few times when I've needed tea candle holders I have used the little cups and they worked great. So they weren't a total waste of money, Ha ha ha!

Sweetpotato biscuit dough

 I think the recipe as written needs some adjusting. I checked online and similar recipes start off with 2 cups of flour and the same amount of milk and sweetpotato, so I think this one just slipped by without product testing. 

They look pretty sad getting ready to go in the oven. :(

Sweetpotato biscuits ready for the oven

But...they baked up better than I hoped and puffed up slightly. Taste wise, hrmmm.. I think the batter would go amazingly well as dumplings cooked on the top of a stew, but they are nothing special as a biscuit.

Sweetpotato biscuits

90 - 95  calories / 5 grams of fat each - give or take :)

Sweetpotato Biscuits
Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook - 1950 (pg 158)

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour 
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup shortening (cold) 
  • 1.5 cups sweet potato (mashed)
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together
  2. Cut in shortening.
  3. Combine milk and sweetpotatoes.
  4. Add to first mixture and stir quickly.
  5. Knead lightly, using as little flour as possible on board.
  6. Roll out to 1/2" thickness, cut with floured cutter.
  7. Place on greased baking sheet and bake in hot oven (425 F) for 12-15 minutes
Makes 25 biscuits.