I’ve been feeling like I’ve neglected my duty as a Canadian gluten free food blogger by not giving you a gluten free butter tart recipe. Of course, there are lots of them out there so I created this gluten free Canadian butter tart so you could have something a little bit special and a little bit fancy for a holiday meal or special occasion.
It has all the sweet buttery goodness of the traditional Canadian butter tart, with a soft flaky almond crust and crunchy pecans. It’s kind of like a butter tart and a pecan pie got married and this is their beautiful child.
I must give credit
where credit is due. I borrowed this
crust from the King Arthur site when they used it for lemon squares. You could of course make butter tart squares,
but I fell in love with this round presentation. It’s easier to get out of the pan, and I
think it’s prettier.
Start with cold ingredients. Especially the butter. I recommend mixing the ingredients then form the dough into a ball and stick it in the fridge. This will make it a little easier to work with when you go to spread it in the pan. If you’re pressed for time and want to skip this step it will be fine.
Conventional wisdom will tell you to use unsalted butter. If you feel strongly about this, go ahead. My grandmother always baked with salted butter, and I think it tastes much better. If you do this, then leave out the added salt.
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If you have problems with dairy like lactose or casein intolerance, or you’re just looking for a vegan version of this gluten free Canadian butter tart recipe that’s easy. Switch out the butter for a vegan butter substitute like Crisco Golden Shortening. Don’t use vegan margarine in a tub. It will be too soft and too likely to melt. For a truly vegan version you’ll also need to replace the eggs with a commercial egg replacer. I like Bob’s Red Mill.
The filling is inspired
by my grandmother’s recipe out of her Purity cookbook, the 1945 edition. You can practically taste the tradition. Soft sweet brown sugar balances with rich creamy
butter and just enough lemon juice for a little snap so it’s not too cloying. Vanilla for flavor and then a couple of eggs hold
it all together. Couldn’t be simpler!
My favorite thing about this classic gluten free Canadian butter tart filling is no syrup! Many recipes call for corn syrup which gives you a runny consistency and a much less rich flavor. Some call for maple syrup. Okay, this does give you a classic Canadian maple flavor but in my opinion it’s not worth the sacrifice in texture.
For this tart I used my mom’s 8 inch round layer cake pans. The recipe made two 8” round tarts. If you want to try butter tart squares this recipe will work perfectly. In this case use your 9 x 13 rectangular pan or two 8x8's. You could even make actual butter tarts in tart tins. If someone wants to try mini tarts, I’d love to hear how they turn out.
Why am I calling these butter tarts instead of a gluten free pecan pie recipe? Good question. You could call it a pecan pie if you like and I guess you wouldn’t be wrong, but because I use the almond crust and the steep sided layer cake pans, it just feels more like a tart to me. Po-tay-toe / Po-taw-toe.
To prepare your pans, grease them with a little butter or line them with parchment. I like parchment because it makes the pans easier to clean, especially when you’re working with sugar. Confused about how to line a round pan with parchment? That’s easy. Remember making paper snowflakes in school? Cut a rectangular piece of parchment the width of your pan. Fold it in half, then in half again the other way. From the corner where the folds meet, fold one side toward the other so you have a point. Do this again. Now hold the point at the center of the pan and measure to the edge. That’s where you cut the paper.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. DON’T prebake your crust. Simply press it into your two round pans, pour half the filling in each and get it right into the oven. I like to place the pans onto a baking sheet in case they overflow. It’s unlikely, but anything that will prevent me from having to clean burnt sugar out of my oven is a step worth taking. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. It’s done when the center has started to bubble just a little.
Here’s where you can get creative. The tart in the picture is decorated with a pecan half for each slice and crushed pecans around the edges. About 1/3 of a cup crushed for each of your 2 tarts should do the trick. Add the nuts while the tart is still warm so they’ll stick, then let it cool completely before serving so the crust will hold together.