December is the busiest month at Butter Baked Goods & Café (4907 Mackenzie Street), and it’s owner Rosie Daykin’s favourite time of year. The self-taught baker opened her West Side shop, which offers an assortment of classic baked goods and confections, seven years ago. Around the holidays, Butter’s menu expands significantly to feature an array of seasonal treats including fruitcake, panettone, biscotti, rum balls, Christmas cookies, and candy-cane bark.
“It’s stressful, but there’s something about the madness of that stress that is satisfying,” Daykin tells the Georgia Straight during an interview at Butter. “Owning a bakery has been an incredibly positive experience. It’s not like the dental office. People come in and there’s this really great energy around here all the time—even more so around the holidays.”
Before launching Butter, Daykin worked as an interior designer. Daykin says that after a busy day, which included raising her now-adult daughter, she baked as a way to unwind.
“I could do a million things in a day, but I was always very content to bake something in the evening to just decompress,” she says. “I got to do something I was enjoying and in turn, I would share it with others and make them all very happy.”
Her passion for baking was always most fruitful in December, when she would make a different cookie, bar, or tart almost every night. She stored the desserts uncooked in her freezer and took them out to bake and enjoy when she hosted parties and gatherings at her home throughout the month.
“When it came to entertaining, I would put out a baking platter. I loved there to be an assortment of things, and I think guests enjoyed the variety,” she recalls.
Since opening Butter, Daykin hasn’t had as much time to bake at home and typically treats friends and family to sweets from the shop when hosting Christmas parties. One dessert that always makes its way onto her baking platter is the butter tart, or a variation such as the chocolate chip and walnut tart she shares below.
“The holidays have always meant butter tarts for me, but a lot of people don’t like butter tarts. The question I always find hysterical is, ‘Are there raisins in your butter tarts?’ Yes, there are because it’s a butter tart,” she says. “This version is a take on butter tarts, but it has chocolate and walnuts instead. They’re delicious, super easy, and fast to make.”
Daykin recommends making the pastry shells in advance and filling them right before baking. Home cooks who aren’t as industrious as Daykin might choose to supplement their dessert plates with goodies from Butter, where Daykin will be working nearly every day in December—and enjoying every moment of it.
“It sounds strange and like It’s a Wonderful Life, but everyone is just in the best spirits and being here really gives you a great sense of the holiday,” she says. “Everyone’s off to entertain, and whether it’s big or small, it doesn’t matter. It’s nice and festive.”
Rosie Daykin’s chocolate chip walnut tarts
2½ cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large egg
¼ cup (60 mL) cold water
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 large egg
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) light brown sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (125 mL) chocolate chips
½ cup (125 mL) walnuts, chopped
- To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour using a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender. Continue until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
- In a small bowl, combine the egg, water, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and pour over the flour mixture. Mix together with a fork until dough forms.
- Use your hands to form the dough into two evenly sized discs about ½-inch thick. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out chilled pastry discs to ¼-inch thick. Use a 4-inch circular cutter to cut out 12 pastry pieces. Fit the rounds of pastry into a regular-sized muffin pan.
- In a large measuring cup or bowl with a pouring spout, whisk together egg, sugars, vanilla, flour, and salt until well combined. Add melted butter and gently whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Divide chocolate chips and walnuts evenly between tart shells. Carefully pour butter mixture into tart shells, making sure not to overfill.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the centres of the tarts are puffed and golden.
Yield: 12 tarts.
Recipe has not been tested by the Georgia Straight.