I discovered Three Tarts Bakery a few years back. It started with one tart: White Chocolate, Cranberry and Toasted Pistachio. You would think that the sweetness of the chocolate would overpower the other flavours. Wrong! The tangy cranberries make themselves heard and the pistachios lend a nice crunch allowing an insinuation of nuttiness.
I then began my exploration of the cookies. While chocolate chip, oatmeal and shortbreads cookies generally get all the glory, I prefer the less vaunted “decorated cookies.” Three Tarts is a temple to the art of decorated cookies. Miniature edible masterpieces done in artful symmetry. There’s something about biting off a bunny’s ear or chomping on the tail of a whale that just fills me with joy.
Now, I’ve always held bakers in high esteem. It is a profession fraught with peril. All that exact measuring, adhering to strict baking schedules, the fiddling with chemistry and the “I-hope-it-comes-out-of-the-oven-intact” finger crossing is more than a mere mortal like myself can take. So, when I come upon baking super-heroines at the top of their game, they garner my deep admiration and appreciation.
Christine Grenville and Sheila Lynch are the duo behind Wellington Street’s Three Tarts Bakery. For over twenty years, they’ve been transforming simple ingredients into mouth-watering and delicious pastries. From the heralded Lemon Meringue Pie to favourites like the Raspberry Rhubarb Tart and the Apple Pecan Crisp Crumble Pie , Three Tarts has been a neighbourhood favourite for decades. As they prepare for their move to a new location, co-owner Sheila Lynch kindly took a couple of minutes from her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
When did you start baking?
I’ve been baking since I was young. After attending George Brown College, I worked as pastry chef in several downtown restaurants in Toronto before coming to Ottawa to open the bakeshop with Christine.
What time in the morning do you start baking?
We arrive at the shop around 4:15 am to begin baking for the day.
How long have you been making my favourite tart?
We’ve been making our White Chocolate, Cranberry, Toasted Pistachio Tart for over 25 years.
How did you come up with this flavour combo?
I saw a recipe for white chocolate bark made with dried cranberries and pistachios. I loved both the taste and the colours and thought it would be a nice combination for a tart.
How many do you bake per week?
This time of year, we make about 18 a week but over Christmas, that number rises to 60+ a week.
What’s the secret to the success of this tart?
I think this tart is so lovely because it combines both sweet and tart, and with the toasted pistachios, it adds a great combination of flavour, texture and colour.
The tart is great but what is your favourite item to bake?
I love making decorated cookies.
Who is your baking mentor?
My mentor is without a doubt my bakeshop partner Christine. She is an amazing person and baker and we have worked incredibly well together for over 20 years!
What do you like best about Ottawa’s food scene?
I like seeing little independent shops like ours thrive around the city. It makes for a much more interesting community!
Tell me about your new location?
We’re excited to move into our new location at 464 Bank Street (at the corner of Bank and McLeod). This is a vibrant, downtown neighbourhood brimming with diversity and life. We look forward to all the new opportunities this will bring to our bakeshop and the Three Tarts family!
Three Tarts is located near Island Park at 1320 Wellington Street W. They are opened from Tuesday to Friday, 9 am-6 pm, Saturday 9 am-5pm and Sunday 11 am-4pm.