Calgary·Vintage cookbooks

Five Roses Cookbook delivers Canada's first delicious butter tarts

CBC food columnist Julie Van Rosendaal digs deep into old cookbooks for some vintage recipes.

CBC food columnist Julie Van Rosendaal digs deep into old cookbooks for some vintage recipes

All summer Julie Van Rosendaal will be riffling through vintage cookbooks to bring you some of their best recipes and the stories behind the ingredients. (Julie Van Rosendaal/Twitter)

When varieties of wheat were developed in the early 20th century and became a staple crop in Canada, milling companies popped up, and many of them decided to print their own cookbooks in order to encourage Canadian homemakers to use their products.

Perhaps the best known is the Five Roses Cookbook, the longest-running recipe collection from a Canadian flour company.

The Lake of the Woods Milling Company started 1888 in Keewatin, Ont., founded by a team from the board of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Construction of the railway allowed for western grain to be shipped to eastern ports. At peak production, the mill was grinding 62,000 bushels of wheat daily to produce 10,000 barrels of flour.

Lake of the Woods released the first edition of the Five Roses Cookbook in 1913 as a collection of around 600 recipes submitted by women across Canada via a contest the company held. The book cost about 25 cents, plus a stamp. A 1915 edition talks about the book being an all-Canadian publication.

"The recipes were supplied by Canadian housewives. The book was printed in a Canadian shop, and the paper, both inside and cover stock, was produced in a Canadian mill.… Already, nearly 950,000 copies are in daily use in Canadian kitchens — practically one copy for every second Canadian home."

Over the years the book has been released with several different covers, and many of the recipes change from edition to edition.

The latest version was released in 2003, a reproduction of the 1967 edition.

But perhaps the most recognizable is the original soft brown cover, with a child in a blue checkered dress baking on the front.

Having been released by a flour company, it's heavy on the baked goods — plenty of pies, muffins, popovers (which need to make a comeback) and loaves, with a glossary of baking terms at the front. It contains butchery charts and savoury dishes as well.

It holds up as a baking resource — though the recipes are brief (some pages contain seven pie recipes) and rely on the cook to have some basic baking knowledge and trust their culinary instinct. It's interesting that the basic method for things like biscuits, pastry and matrimonial cake (date squares) hasn't changed over several generations.

Five Roses Butter Tarts

The first printed recipe for butter tarts, described as "filling for tarts," appeared in a cookbook produced by the Royal Victoria Hospital's Woman's Auxiliary in Barrie, Ont., in 1900, attributed to one Mrs. Malcolm (Mary) MacLeod. But the Five Roses cookbook has the earliest printed reference to "butter tarts" in Canadian food literature.

The versions change from edition to edition — this one calls for walnuts, currants and raisins, but a later edition calls for only currants, and no vinegar or syrup, but 2 tbsp of cream in the filling.



2½ cup Five Roses® all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup butter, cold

½ cup water, cold


2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

½ tsp salt

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

½ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup butter, melted

¾ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup currants

½ cup raisins




Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle in enough water until the dough begins to hold together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a disc (do not overwork the dough).

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out three-inch rounds and line 12 muffin cups with dough. Chill.


Whisk together eggs and brown sugar. Add the salt, vinegar, maple syrup and melted butter; combine well.

In small bowl mix together walnuts, currants and raisins.

Divide the walnut-fruit mixture between the tart shells.

Fill each tart with approximately ¼-cup filling.

Bake in a preheated 350 F (180 C) oven for 20-25 minutes or until set.


Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.


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