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What are the Best Tips for Baking a Butter Tart?

For the perfect butter tart, use cold butter for a flaky crust, and don't overwork the dough. Balance sweet and savory by adding a pinch of salt to your filling. Ensure even baking by preheating your oven. For a glossy finish, brush the crust with egg wash. Curious about achieving that gooey center or adding a unique twist? Keep reading for more expert tips.
G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

The way in which a butter tart is prepared and enjoyed is actually grounds for a certain amount of controversy. Different people have widely varying preferences regarding the texture and ingredients used in their butter tarts. This means that the best tips for making a butter tart will depend a great deal on what you or those you are making the tarts for prefer. In general, you should consider the crust you will use, whether you want to make the filling runny or firm, and what kinds of ingredients you wish to add to the filling.

A butter tart is a Canadian dessert that consists primarily of a small pie crust filled with a sweet filling. The ways in which the crust and filling are made, however, determine a great deal about the resulting tart. While premade crust can be purchased and used, it is often recommended that you make your own crust. You should try to find a crust recipe that will help you produce a flaky, moist crust that will brown up nicely and create a butter tart that crumbles when eaten.

Butter, one of the main ingredients in butter tarts.
Butter, one of the main ingredients in butter tarts.

If you already have a favorite pie crust recipe, then you should feel free to use that. Otherwise you should try to find a recipe that uses both butter and shortening, as each type of fat adds to the crust in different ways. You should also look for a recipe that uses vodka as well as water; the vodka will reduce the amount of gluten that is formed, resulting in a flakier crust, and the alcohol and flavor will completely bake out of your butter tart crust.

Vodka reduces the amount of gluten in the crust.
Vodka reduces the amount of gluten in the crust.

Once you have determined what crust recipe you will use, you can then focus on the filling. At its heart, a butter tart filling consists of butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Light brown sugar is typically used, and the sugar and butter should be thoroughly creamed together before adding the eggs and mixed into a light and fluffy paste. You may also want to add some corn syrup to create a runny filling, but this depends on your preferences. The baking time will also impact the consistency of your filling, with firm tarts baked about 20 minutes while runny tarts are baked for around 15 minutes.

Many people also choose to add nuts or raisins to the butter tart filling; again, this will depend on your preferences. If you do include raisins, then you should soak them for about 10 or 15 minutes in hot water to moisten them. For a more mature flavor, you can soak the raisins in hot rum instead to add depth to the flavor. Many Canadians who include nuts in a butter tart use walnuts, though you may prefer pecans, which will make the tarts similar to American pecan pie.

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Discussion Comments


@heavanet- The next time you bake butter tarts, have a spatula handy. When your tarts have baked 15 to 20 minutes, gently lift one up to check the underneath side. If it is golden-brown in color, your butter tarts are done. If they are still pale, continue baking and checking them until they reach this ideal color.


@heavanet- Baking times do vary, because oven heat varies. I think that the best way to determine how long to bake your butter tarts is to check them at 15 minutes, then every five minutes after that until they are done.

Once you reach the ideal baking time, make a note of it so that you can bake your butter tarts that same amount of time the next time you make them.


Does the baking time for preparing butter tarts vary? I have tried to make them several times, and they usually turn out undercooked or burned. What am I doing wrong?

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    • Butter, one of the main ingredients in butter tarts.
      By: Multiart
      Butter, one of the main ingredients in butter tarts.
    • Vodka reduces the amount of gluten in the crust.
      By: dla4
      Vodka reduces the amount of gluten in the crust.