It was the sweetest day of the year for Diane Rogers. The baker and owner of Doo Doo’s Bakery in Bailieboro, Ont. took home not just one, but the three top prizes at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival, held in Midland on June 9.
The award-winning baker beat out more than 60 competitors to win first place in both the professional traditional and fusion competitions, plus took home ‘Best in Show’ with her stunning strawberry-rhubarb butter tarts. The annual one-day festival, which is a butter tart lover’s dream come true, saw more than 60,000 people descend on the town of Midland, eager to satisfy their sweet tooths. Not only is this a chance to taste tarts from the best bakeries, it is home to the ultimate annual baking competition. The top professional and home bakers enjoy the sweet taste of butter tart baking victory.
And Rogers is one of them. In 2016, she swept the professional, non-classic category, taking home first, second and third prize with her tarts. Yet, despite the accolades, the award-winning baker wasn’t confident that she’d bake a winning batch this year. Doo Doo’s placed 12th in last year’s competition, which had Rogers wondering how her tarts really measured up.
After going back to the drawing board, Doo Doo’s reclaimed its title and more this year. The classic, plain butter tart is simple, but judges found it to be simply the best.
“I’m a purist,” the self-taught baker said. “I like them plain.”
Rogers used the classic pastry and perfectly sticky-sweet tarts as a launching pad for the creation that earned her both top prize in the fusion category, plus Best in Show. Taking advantage of fresh strawberries and seasonal rhubarb, Rogers baked the award-winning batch at midnight the night before the competition.
“I’ve kind of got a knack for pairing flavours with butter tart filling,” Rogers said. “We’re always experimenting in our kitchen – even down to the last minute.”
The sweet and tangy tart was so good, that as soon as the judging ended, a crowd descended on her booth before Rogers even heard that they’d won.
“I call it Butter Tart Christmas because that really is what it is,” she said. “It was fun, it is always lots of fun.”
While the winning strawberry-rhubarb creation wasn’t among the thousands of tarts Doo Doo’s sold that weekend, fans can taste the award-winning tart at their bakery and cafe. Butter tart lovers can also seek them out at the Cobourg Farmers’ Market and the Peterborough Market.
While Rogers has had years of competition under her belt, Tonya Louks thought the festival would just be a fun weekend away. The amateur baker from Welland, Ont. is usually one to shy away from the spotlight, which is why she never expected to be crowned champ of the traditional amateur competition on Saturday.
“I thought I didn’t have a chance, but you just never know,” said Louks, who has been making butter tarts for her family for years. Armed with a family-filling recipe passed down from her husband’s great-great-grandmother, she’s perfected her thin, flaky crust and studded her tarts with raisins for a mouthwatering treat her family raves about.
“My family kept bugging me to enter and I said ‘you are all biased,’” said Louks, who relented after her family insisted she share her tarts with the world. Even though she made it through the first round of the competition with ease, she was worried how her thin crust would stand up against the competition, who had thicker pastries.
“You never know what the judges are going to like or not like,” said Louks, who was excited to see The Baker Sisters as part of the judging panel.
With the surprise win under her belt, Louks is already getting requests from friends and family, who want a bite of her award-winning treats. While she isn’t taking orders, she’s definitely taking inspiration from this year’s winners and from the variety of tarts available at the festival, including some impressive gluten-free tarts and ‘puptarts’ she brought home for her dog.
Looking to try some tasty tarts? Hit the road this summer and discover 10 Butter Tart Spots to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.