Tag Archives: Phipps Bakery Cafe

Butter Tarts

An array of Butter Tarts from Frank's Foods - Photo Courtesy of Frank's Foods (Ottawa)

An array of Butter Tarts from Frank’s Foods – Photo Courtesy of Frank’s Foods (Ottawa)

Butter Tarts are a Canadian treasure.  As an American I don’t know much about them.  But I was determined to “get the skinny” on these treats.  (Hmm, perhaps “skinny” is not the best choice of words here…..)

Butter Tarts from the Sweet Bliss Baking Company - Photo Courtesy of The Sweet Bliss Baking Company (Toronto)

Butter Tarts from the Sweet Bliss Baking Company – Photo Courtesy of The Sweet Bliss Baking Company (Toronto)

First of all, let’s cover the basics.  What is a Butter Tart?  According to the editors from Food Network Canada, a Butter Tart is a Tart made of butter, sugar, eggs, and pastry.  They believe a good Butter Tart is characterized by a creamy and dense filling, a smooth texture, and a flaky pastry.

Butter Tarts are so popular, they’re the focus of celebrations and culinary events in Canada.  These are two interesting ones:

The Harbourfront Centre in Toronto - site of The Great Canadian Butter Tart Bake-Off - Photo Courtesy of The Harbourfront Centre (Toronto)

The Harbourfront Centre in Toronto – site of The Great Canadian Butter Tart Bake-Off – Photo Courtesy of The Harbourfront Centre (Toronto)

Among the many festivities held at the Canada Day celebration at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto — “The Great Canadian Butter Tart Bake-Off.”  Six pastry chefs competed for the Best Butter Tart Award. (Thanks to Janet Schreiber, owner of Toronto-based Phipps Bakery Café, who told me about this competition.  Phipps was invited to participate but was not able to.)

For dessert fans wishing to sample and compare different Butter Tarts, North Wellington in Ontario is your go-to destination.  It’s the site of “The Butter Site Trail.”  (I’d much rather go on a Butter Tart Crawl than a Beer Crawl, but I digress.)

Bakeries also attest to the popularity of Butter Tarts.

Prairie Girl Bakery's Butter Tart - Photo Courtesy of Prairie Girl Bakery (Toronto)

Prairie Girl Bakery’s Butter Tart – Photo Courtesy of Prairie Girl Bakery (Toronto)

Orna Quinn, of Toronto-based Prairie Girl Bakery reported “Butter Tarts have definitely become more popular, especially for those who do not like things that are as sweet or filling as cupcakes.”  She went on to explain that Mini Butter Tarts are especially popular now.

 

Frank Spartico, owner of Frank's Foods - Photo Courtesy of Frank Spartico (Ottawa)

Frank Spartico, owner of Frank’s Foods – Photo Courtesy of Frank’s Foods (Ottawa)

In Ottawa, Frank Spartico, owner of Frank’s Foods explained “Even though we sell a ton of Tarts the week before Christmas, we also sell a lot all year long.”  And Butter Tarts have torpedoed many post-holiday diets in January.

Don’t think there are only “Plain Janes” in the Butter Tart world.

Prairie Girl Bakery's Storefront - Photo Courtesy of Prairie Girl Bakery (Toronto)

Prairie Girl Bakery’s Storefront – Photo Courtesy of Prairie Girl Bakery (Toronto)

Prairie Girl Bakery also offers a Pecan Butter Tart.

Butter Tarts from Phipps Bakery Cafe - Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Butter Tarts from Phipps Bakery Cafe – Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

While Phipps’ Janet Schrieber said the Bakery’s most popular Butter Tart is Plain, made with homemade caramel, the Pecan Butter Tart is a close second.  And for those seeking variety, Phipps Bakery Cafe also offers a Chocolate Butter Tart, a Chocolate Pecan Butter Tart, and a seasonal Cranberry Pecan Butter Tart.

Storefront of Phipps Bakery Cafe - Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Storefront of Phipps Bakery Cafe – Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Janet also explained that there’s “a great debate….to raisin or not to raisin.  We used to put raisins in our Tarts but found most preferred not to have them there, so we took them out.”

Pecan and Raisin Butter Tarts from Frank's Foods - Photo Courtesy of Frank's Foods (Ottawa)

Pecan and Raisin Butter Tarts from Frank’s Foods – Photo Courtesy of Frank’s Foods (Ottawa)

Frank’s Foods decided “to raisin.”  In fact, Raisin Butter Tarts are Frank’s second most popular type of Butter Tart.  Frank Spartico noted “Raisin Tarts are the most traditional and are extremely popular with the older crowd, the one Mom always made.”  What other varieties of Butter Tarts can you find at Frank’s?  Pecan (1st place), Plain (3rd place), Maple Walnut, Chocolate Chip, and Butterscotch.

Stay tuned for other postings about Canadian desserts.

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Banana Cake, Banana Bread, and Banana Cupcakes

Banana Colada Cake from Phipps Bakery Cafe - Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Banana Colada Cake from Phipps Bakery Cafe – Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Even though I sometimes prefer gooey, rich Cake, when I think about Cake with Banana, Banana Bread usually first comes to mind.

Starbucks' Banana Nut Bread - Photo Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks’ Banana Nut Bread – Photo Courtesy of Starbucks

And why not?  There’s certainly nothing wrong with a good, classic Banana Bread.  For home bakers, it’s a good way to use up overripe Bananas.  And we want to purchase, in addition to bake, our Banana Bread.  As reported by Bloomberg News, after Starbucks purchased French-style bakery, La Boulange, it stopped selling its Banana Nut Bread.  What happened?  You guessed it. Customers missed the Banana Nut Bread and Starbucks brought this classic back.

Banana Caramel Cupcake from Kara's Cupcakes - Photo Courtesy of Kara's Cupcakes (CA)

Banana Caramel Cupcake from Kara’s Cupcakes – Photo Courtesy of Kara’s Cupcakes (CA)

Of course, as with so many other desserts, Banana Cake has gotten fancy.  Not just layer cake fancy.  But fancy in terms of the added ingredients.

Paradise Cake from Kara's Cupcakes - Photo Courtesy of Kara's Cupcakes (CA)

Paradise Cake from Kara’s Cupcakes – Photo Courtesy of Kara’s Cupcakes (CA)

Alfredo Garcia, of California-based Kara’s Cupcakes, summarizes the evolution of Kara’s Banana offerings.  First, there were Banana Cupcakes.  Then Banana Caramel Cupcakes joined the line-up.  And after Kara’s expanded its Cake line, passion fruit filling and toasted coconut flakes were added to Banana Cake and Paradise Cake was created.  Alfredo remarks “We feel Banana Baked Goods have always been popular, but we are now seeing more creative ways of offering the delicious treat.”

Banana Cupcakes from The Sweet Stash - Photo Courtesy of The Sweet Stash (Nashville)

Banana Cupcakes from The Sweet Stash – Photo Courtesy of The Sweet Stash (Nashville)

And alcohol pairs beautifully with Banana Cake.  The Whiskey Banana Cupcake is the most popular Banana item for Nashville-based Sweet Stash.  Whitney May, who owns The Sweet Stash with her husband, says “We find Banana is a polarizing flavor for the masses.  It seems like people either love it or hate it. But I think the whiskey [in the Whiskey Banana Cupcake] brings more people to the dark side…”

Even though Banana Cake is popular, Chocolate Cake isn’t going anywhere. 

Phipps Bakery Cafe's Chocolate Banana Cake - Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Phipps Bakery Cafe’s Chocolate Banana Cake – Photo Courtesy of Phipps Bakery Cafe (Toronto)

Janet Schreiber, owner of Toronto-based Phipps Bakery Cafe has this to say “Although anything with Bananas is popular, I would have to say the most popular Banana Cake would have to be the Chocolate Banana Cake.  Probably because chocolate is such a popular dessert ingredient.”

Banana Cake from Piece of Cake Bakery - Photo Courtesy of Piece of  Cake Bakery (Portland, OR)

Banana Cake from Piece of Cake Bakery – Photo Courtesy of Piece of Cake Bakery (Portland, OR)

Marilyn DeVault of Portland, Oregon-based Piece of Cake Bakery also agrees that Banana Cake is not as popular as Chocolate Cake. She offers up one of her Banana Cake secrets:  Mash your own Bananas instead of using commercially prepared pre-mashed Bananas. 

I’m tempted to make Banana Bread this weekend.  Maybe I’ll include some ground hazelnuts and Chocolate Chips for good measure.  That’s the problem with writing about Desserts – I want to eat them all!

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