The Sweet Oven
The Sweet Oven is solely dedicated to butter tarts in a wide variety of ever-changing flavours. With over 20 different flavours on offer, the family-run concept started in Barrie and now also has a location in Orillia.
There’s no seating to speak of here, the majority of the space devoted to a large glowing display case of butter tarts.
Butter tarts are all handmade from scratch using high quality ingredients fresh every morning, and nothing is ever frozen.
The recipe was originally created by Becky Howard, adapted from the first-ever butter tart recipe printed in the Royal Victoria Hospital Women’s Auxiliary Cookbook in the early 1900s.
Their pastry is known for being very flaky, yet holding the filling well without being too dense or thick, opting for lard over butter.
The filling is a simple yet indulgent mix of butter, eggs, sugar and corn syrup that uses lots of egg and melted butter.
Providing the base for most creative tart fillings, The Sweet Oven can even bake tarts with a specified degree of runniness.
Full-size tarts are $3.50 for one, $18 for a half-dozen and $30 for a dozen.
They always have a flavour of the month on deck, and plain, pecan and raisin butter tarts are always in stock.
While I’m visiting it’s a tart raspberry lemon variety made with frozen raspberries, but they also do s’more, pumpkin, bacon, Molson and eggnog ones.
It is indeed surprising how a seemingly delicate pastry shell can hold back such incredibly gooey filling that immediately spills out everywhere as soon as it’s broken.
The achingly-sweet filling is given balance by the richness of all the eggs and butter, the top perfectly soft, crackly and bubbly.
The plain tarts should satisfy purists, while pecan pieces are nice and crunchy and not too large, and raisins turn into sugary, fruity, sweet little flavour bombs when baked into filling.
A mint Oreo flavour is more off the beaten path, plain filling laced with mint flavour and crushed Oreos, creating an After Eight effect.
There are also mini versions of the butter tarts available for $10 for a half-dozen, $18 for a dozen.
Other mind-blowing butter tart flavour options include blueberry, chai, butterscotch chip, Skor bit, coconut, coffee, English toffee, and a chocolate chip kind where the chips melt down into a chocolatey layer.
The only other offering outside of butter tarts is drip coffee ($2.25 to $2.75) from Epic North, actually also developed by a physician at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, in keeping with the very specific theme.
Since these butter tarts are best enjoyed at room temperature, leave them on the counter rather than refrigerating when you get home.