The Sunday Magazine·The Sunday Edition

Inside butter tarts, the ultimate Canadian delicacy

Can you really trust a person who likes raisins in their buttertarts? And is a butter tart any good, if the syrup doesn't run down your arm and drip off the end of your elbow? We will learn the answers to these burning questions, when Paula Sanderson goes on a hunt for butter tart perfection. Her documentary is called, "She Made Some Tarts, All of a Summer's Day."
Butter tarts made by Elaine Martin of The Lady Bug Cafe in Midland, Ontario. (Paula Sanderson)

Like Homer's Sirens they call to us, seduce us, and draw us to places of indulgence, sometimes against our better judgement.

Maybe it's nostalgia for summers gone by. Maybe it's the ooze, the sweet sticky filling, the melt in your mouth flaky pastry, the essential Canadian-ness of them.

Whatever it is, people in this country are passionate about their butter tarts. 

The earliest known printed recipe for butter tarts is in the 1900 edition of the Royal Victoria Hospital's Women's Auxiliary cookbook in Barrie Ontario. That recipe in that little publication launched a quest for perfection that persists to this day.

Very strong opinions are held. There are fevered debates, rivalries and contests. There are butter tours and butter tart trails. And in the small town of Midland, on the shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario's Best Butter Tart Festival and Competition.

In June, producer Paula Sanderson was one of 45,000 people who took it all in. Her documentary is called "She Made Some Tarts, All of a Summer's Day."

Click the button above to hear Paula Sanderson's documentary.