Butter Tarts

This recipe is fiddly, but easy, and the results are delicious. My grandmother used to make these, and so did my Auntie Doris, and my Auntie Lyd.

Take a whole thing of shortbread.

Line 12 patty tins and a 6 inch cake tin with the shortbread. You’ll find it’s the perfect amount. If you like, you can do this by rolling and cutting, but it also works if you just smush it down with your fingers. This is messy on the fingers, but saves cleaning the worksurface for rolling, and shortbread isn’t easy to roll.

Put the oven on to pre-heat to 4/180/350. If using C, you want to be on the cool side of 180, if you know what I mean.

Melt two and a half ounces of butter. You really do have to melt it for this one.

Sieve six ounces of sugar into a bowl. You can use any kind of sugar, but my ancient family recipe suggests soft brown sugar. I find vanilla sugar is the best.

Add four ounces of sultanas/raisins to the sugar, and mix them in with a wooden spoon. Add the butter. Add an egg. Add a few drops of vanilla essence if you’re not using vanilla sugar. Add two tablespoons of cream, or milk if you’re out of cream. (The creamier cream the better. Here I use 35%, in Britain I used double cream, but I have made them with milk.)

Stir with wooden spoon until smoothly mixed and gloppy — it’s faster to do than to type the instruction.

Spoon a teaspoon of the filling into each of the patty tins. Pour and scrape the rest into the cake tin.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes.


If you can wait until they’re cool enough not to burn your tongue, that’s better.

The ones in patty tins may run over the edges of the pastry and burn a little onto the tin, which is a pain to clean. It doesn’t spoil them, but it does add “scrubbing patty tin with green scratchy” to the chore of making them. This won’t happen if you’re careful, but it almost always happens to me.

I have no idea how well these keep, as keeping them overnight is regarded as a major exercise in willpower around here.

The great thing about them, apart from how good they taste, is that you can make them with stuff that’s in the larder all the time — well, my larder anyway — I don’t have to get organised to make sure I have anything, I always have all that stuff.