Basic Pie Crust: Kentucky Derby Pie and Raisin Butter Tarts Revisited

I’ve baked butter tarts before but it’s been SO long that you may not remember these wonderful little Canadian treats. You can bake them plain or add raisins or nuts. You can even add chocolate chips to the filling. But they ALL start with a basic pie crust.

So that’s why today’s post is titled as it is.

A pie crust is the start of many great dishes, sweet OR savoury. And I’m not talking a fancy French ‘pate sucree’, like Martha Stewart whips up. I’m talking about a plain and simple, tender crust with REAL LARD!! Not butter. I used the recipe on the Tenderflake lard box, this time, but I added a teaspoon of baking powder to the basic recipe.

Why you may ask?

Cause that’s what Edna Staebler does. She’s the author of the cookbook, “Food That Really Schmecks”, among others, based on Mennonite cooking as it is practiced in the Waterloo, Ontario region. I own 4 of her cookbooks and thought that I should really start cooking out of my cookbooks more, rather than depending strictly on the internet for recipes.

Of course, I’ve said that I’d start doing that ages ago. Good intentions and all that.

The only drawback is that SOMETIMES, the cookbooks, leave out important information. Like how big you should cut out your pastry circles when making tarts and how many tarts the filling will FILL. πŸ™‚

Tenderflake Pie Crust – makes enough pastry forΒ  6 x 9 inch pie shell bottoms or 3 x 9 inch double crust pies

1 1 lb package of lard, roughly cut into 8-16 pieces
6 cups pastry flour or 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
cold water as needed (~7/8 cup)

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the shortening is in pea sized pieces. (They don’t all have to be the same size.)

In a measuring cup, combine the egg and vinegar. Add enough cold water to make one cup.

Stir the liquid into the flour mixture, adding just enough to make the dough cling together. Then gather the dough into a ball, and separate into 6 portions.

Wrap each portion in food wrap (Saran Wrap) snuggly and pat lightly into a disc.

Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Before rolling the dough out, leave it at room temp for 15 mins.

Lightly flour surface and roll into circles, then pat the dough into pie pans, following pie recipes. Be careful not to stretch the dough.

Kentucky Derby Tarts

Inside the Derby tart

Kentucky Derby Pie or Tarts – makes enough filling for 1 x 9 inch pie or 18 large tarts, pie serves 6-8

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
1 cup white sugar (or half white and half brown or yellow)
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or sugar
2 tbsp Bourbon, dark rum or rye (I used 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp of my rye whiskey vanilla extract in place of the vanilla and Bourbon)
1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecan, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts cause that’s all I had)

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the beaten eggs, corn syrup, salt, vanilla and the liquor and whisk together so it’s well mixed.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the pecan pieces over the base of the unbaked pie crust.

Pour the filling carefully over the chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is set and the edges of the pastry is a golden brown. There will be almost no jiggle in the center of the pie.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.

A scoop of ice cream or a tbsp of sweetened whipped cream is a great addition to this already decadent dessert.

Tart Variation:

For making the tarts, you’ll need enough pastry to make TWO 9 inch pie shells.

Spray the inside of the muffin tins lightly with PAM or other cooking spray to help in removing the tarts from the tins.

Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick and cut 4 inch circles. Lay inside large muffin tins and gently press into shape.

Sprinkle ~1 tbsp each, chocolate chips and chopped nuts in bottom of every muffin tin.

Fill each muffin tin with ~2 tbsp of the pie filling and place in the preheated oven. IMMEDIATELY reduce the oven temperature to 350 deg F and bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and the underside of the tarts have browned.

NOTE: Bake the tarts in the bottom third of the oven so that the bottom of the tarts will cook through and brown.

Let the tarts cool to room temperature in the muffin tins before running a butter knife around the edge of the tins and removing.

Raisin Butter Tarts – baked as a pie

I apologize for the sloppy cut picture above. I was also making 2 large pizzas and by the time I had kneaded the dough and done all the rolling etc for the tarts, I was too tired to do more than snap a quick shot.


9 thoughts on “Basic Pie Crust: Kentucky Derby Pie and Raisin Butter Tarts Revisited

  1. What a treasure those books must be! I love the lard in the crust – and it reminds me of when I look through my Grandma’s recipe box – the most faded is her pie crust with lard, which means it is the oldest and probably the frugalest! Then butter, then she has an oil one, too!

    I just had to point out that I can tell how beautiful the crust is because I can see the variation of color in it, lighter and darker, reflecting how the lard isn’t completely homogonized into the dough. I could tell the crust would be flaky and gorgeous! I just made pizza yesterday, too! Funny!

    1. I remember buying the books at the university bookstore on the sale tables for $5.99 each. So many good memories go along with those days. I think the crust was actually TOO tender and flaky cause I used a combination of all purpose and pastry flour as well as the lard. It sure tasted good too.

  2. There is really nothing more satisfying than the humble butter tart and then you went and dolled them up! I’ve never had the tarts with chocolate chips but it does sound delicious. Also, I had no idea that these delicacies are a Canadian concoction! I cannot remember the last time I had pastry made with lard, but it must be exceptional.

    1. I actually find that I prefer the classic butter tart when all is said and done … there’s nothing like simplicity sometimes. πŸ™‚ Same with using the lard for the pastry. Old school isn’t a BAD thing.

  3. I haven’t had a lard tart yet, but I can very well believe it’s fantastic because the best cheesecake I’ve ever had was my grandmother’s who added always some pork fat to it. When she stopped (some stupid doctors told her she had to stop using pork fat at the age of 70… while she was fit as a fiddle and had pork fat regularly all her life), the taste was at least 50% worse…

    1. It’s worth giving it a try, I think. Funny how those old timers ate what they wanted, worked hard, didn’t suffer from obesity and lived long lives.

  4. I have never seen a Mennonite cookbook. I love the look of the Kentucky derby pies – they remind me a little of the fruit mince pies I make for Christmas xx

    1. Her recipes are based on and inspired by the cooking of her Mennonite friends and neighbours. I’ve not seen a true Mennonite cookbook either. πŸ™‚ So far, I’ve only really explored the desserts.

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