Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Homemade Beavertails!® (A Canadian Classic gets a little makeover)


I couldn't let another winter go by without dedicating a post to our beloved national treasure: the Beavertail.  

That's right.

Now I'll admit that the process nearly killed me. I don't think I've ever spent as much time nor created as many versions of a food item in my life (a fine baker and pastry maker I am not).  But in the end, I ended up with something not entirely dissimilar in taste and appearance to the Canadian winter classic! (or so I like to think).

As my Canadian readers well know, Ottawa is home to the largest skating rink in the world. The Rideau Canal Skateway spans a distance of 7.9 kilometres (4.8 miles) through the downtown core of the Canadian Capital.  Along the way, skaters can enjoy rest stops, ice side fires, and plenty of treats including - you guessed it - one of Canada's best known culinary icons, the Beavertail.  As tradition goes (at least in this house), if you skate the Canal end-to-end, you've earned yourself a Beavertail!


The Rideau Canal Skateway with views of Parliament Hill in the background
Our very own Who Village
Source: National Capital Commission

So what are Beavertails?  According to its makers, Beavertails are whole wheat pastries that are stretched by hand to resemble the tail of one of our best known symbols: the beaver.

The pastries are then fried in oil (or, as described by BEAVERTAILS®: "float cooked on high quality canola oil") and then served pipping hot.  Beavertails are coated with butter and a mixture of cinnamon-sugar and then topped with any number of flavours (including: chocolate/hazelnut, lemon, maple, caramel,...).  Yup, best to earn a Beavertail.  


The Classic Beavertail - Source: National Capital Commission

One final word before I get to the recipe.  

Beavertails do not need fixing.  They are positively delicious in their own right and I've certainly enjoyed my share of bites (I can't seem to eat an entire Beavertail). The changes I've made are typical of the type of thing I do here at Inspired Edibles - less sugar and a preference for the use of whole, minimally refined ingredients.  I've also oven baked the pastry rather than frying it.

So, after many iterations (and some exasperation), I present to you, without further ado, my final version of the Beavertail!! 


Homemade Beavertails (A Canadian Classic gets a little makeover)

For the Dough:
  • 3/4 cup milk variety of choice
  • 3 Tbsp coconut palm sugar, (substitute any coarse grain sugar - brown sugar works just fine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (substitute olive oil)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp bread machine yeast 

For the Coating:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp palm sugar (substitute any coarse grain sugar - brown sugar works just fine)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder

Topping Possibilities:
  • 75% cocoa chocolate, melted
  • chopped nuts/seeds
  • fresh squeezed lemon

~~~~~

Notes:

I tried many, many, different versions of flour (kamut, quinoa, spelt, wheat) and baking methods for this recipe and ultimately decided to go with a whole wheat flour and the use of a bread machine.  

If you prefer to make the pastry the long way, there are other versions available on-line that will take you through that process.  I was more interested in the ingredients.

You could also simplify this recipe by using a whole grain tortilla or sliced pita bread (which I used many times when the boys were young) as your base.  This time I wanted to create something that resembled the Beavertail a little bit more.


Directions:

Makes 8 Beavertails.

Place all ingredients in bread maker in the order listed and set to dough cycle.

Once dough cycle is completed, remove dough from machine and kneed by hand for one or two minutes, shaping the dough into a ball.  Place dough ball on a lightly floured surface and cover with a cloth for 15 minutes.


Heat oven to 350 F.

Divide dough into 8 balls. Roll (or should I say hand stretch) each ball into the shape of a Beavertail! (a semi-oval shape) about 1/4" thick. 





Place Beavertails on a foil lined baking sheet that has been gently sprayed with olive oil.

Meanwhile, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small pinch bowl.


Brush each Beavertail with some olive oil followed by a dusting of cinnamon-sugar.

Place Beavertails in oven (I did 4 at a time) and bake for approximately 16-20 minutes until a crispy and light pastry arises. You will not believe how light these are!




Remove Beavertails from oven and enjoy as is or with some toppings...

~~~


The toppings below are illustrated on a prior dough version - here is my egg-less, yeast-less spelt version (chewy, heavy/dense and frankly not-so great tasting), the toppings however were lovely: 


The dark chocolate-hazelnut topping (mmm...):




And, my very favourite Beavertail topping - freshly squeezed lemon juice... or, as it is called here, the Killaloe Sunrise: 



~~~~~~~~~

I hope you've had some fun learning about one of our national treasures (we take our Beavertails seriously ;o)).  Perhaps you might even give them a try sometime or, better yet, come up to Ottawa for a skate (and a real Beavertail)!  We'll look forward to seeing you.

The Rideau Canal Skateway - Source: Government of Canada


Our first winter on the Ottawa Canal many years ago...
(the only time I ever stood a whisker of a chance of keeping up with my boys!)

38 comments:

  1. Must agree that beaver tails are delicious! These are also wonderful "Makeovers" of the beaver tails (I tried them first hand) :)

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  2. I'm moved by the family photo you have shard with us. So sweet! I have never heard of beavertails, but even if I had no idea what it is, I would do everything to taste them because of the cute name (aren't beavers funny creatures?). Now that I see how beavertails look and know what they contain, I'm even more eager to taste one if I ever go to Canada. You are really brave to prepare such a difficult and time-consuming snack, but I suppose it was worth the effort: they look extraordinary! (Especially the hazelnut and chocolate... I cannot help preferring chocolate flavour all the time!).

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  3. I'm not familiar with beavertails so thanks for sharing! I love humble comfort food like this.

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  4. You are not going to believe this Kelly, but I have NEVER had a beavertail! Ever! Your healthier makeover sounds and looks wonderful. Can you describe the texture of the beavertail? Is it crusty like pizza but soft and chewy inside or is it more like Naan?
    I going to sit my neice and nephew in April for a weekend, this will be a really fun thing to make and eat. And I'll make them earn it with a good walk to High Park!
    We came up to Ottawa on our second Family Day long weekend a few years ago and we skated the Rideau, it was so much fun. There was also a world championship ice sculpture contest going on and that was very cool too. You can't let the gorgeous sunny day fool you, though, Ottawa is damn cold even at the best of times. http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/ottawa-our-nations-capital/

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  5. Emilie@TheCleverCarrotFebruary 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Oh wow! These look so yummy! I've never heard of beavertails before. I'll take any kind of fried dough (haha). I love that you came up with a healthier version that is baked with coconut oil. Delicious! I can only imagine what these must taste like on a cold winter day :)

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  6. Just got back from Ottawa yesterday Kelly, after skating the canal and having beavertails too! Definitely going to try your recipe and I love fresh squeezed lemon juice on them too.

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  7. Love this! Makes me want winter to stick around a little longer... maybe just a day or so until I have time to make these :)

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  8. The beavertails are delicious, esp. drizzled with chocolate. I love the photo of you and your boys. Sweet and beautiful!

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  9. What a great photo of you both! SO cute. I love me a good beaver tail! I happen to have a husband who will flip when I make him this healthier version! He'll be so happy. Thanks Kelly.

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  10. Had never heard of beavertails, but now I cannot stop thinking about this goodie! Of course, I don't own clothes that are warm enough to be alive in that environment, just looking at the beautiful family photo my heart missed a couple of beats, out of fear. :-)

    I think I would love my beavertails with cinnamon and sugar, not sure why, as I normally go for savory stuff. I guess it's because the first photo reminded me of snickerdoodles...

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  11. Ahhhh Kelly! You've done it! This is awesome! It sounds like it was a ton of work but I bet it was worth it. All that beavertail taste testing ;-)

    Something on my 'bucketlist' is to go to the Rideau Canal and skate. It sounds so amazing. I love the little stops you described along the way.

    What a Canadian classic- so glad to see your version!!

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  12. Thank you so very much Mr. C.H. I love you to the moon, beyond and back again. xo

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  13. Sissi, thank you so much. That photo is really meaningful to me too... I had just recently given birth to our second son so it conjures up many memories of tender moments and times past...I've made my share of 'pretend' beavertails on pita bread etc. when the boys were small but I wanted to do something a little more emblematic of a true Beavertail for posting - a little piece of our history here in Ottawa... so happy to receive such a warm responses - merci, xo.

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  14. me too! Thanks Leaf ;0)

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  15. Thanks so much Eva - I should have described the texture in the post but felt the submission was already so darn long I didn't want to bore folks to tears ;o). I would describe these beavertails as extraordinarily light - not only in taste but in weight too - it was like lifting a piece of paper! They are more on the crispy side with a slight chew (true beavertails are chewier) but still, quite edible.

    I have to laugh at your beauty of a quote: "You can't let the gorgeous sunny day fool you, though, Ottawa is damn cold even at the best of times." Ah, true enough. My husband is always teasing me about how much warmer it is in Toronto vs. Ottawa - I must keep your comment away from him lest he rub it in - ;o)

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  16. Hi Emilie! Thanks so much for dropping by. I have to say that a warm Beavertail pretty much melts in your mouth on a cold winters day and is very welcome on the ice for sure! I'm pleased I was able to come up with something quite palatable while baking instead of frying.

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  17. Hey Louise! What a hoot, imagine if we had run into each other?! We were out twice this weekend... isn't the lemon to die for? (and that's coming from a chocolate lover!!). Thanks for dropping by - so nice to see you here :o)

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  18. Hello Michelle, thanks so much for stopping by to say hello! Haha, yes, let's not keep winter around for too long but agreed, the beavertail does make it a little easier to get through. I think that's why Canadians invent these things - it's all part of our survival ;0).

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  19. Thanks so much Angie!

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  20. Plus a newborn munchkin (who's harder to see) hanging in the stroller ;o). Glad you like the look of these France! Let me know if you give them a try sometime... cheers.

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  21. Heehee, and I was sporting my warm-weather wear on that particular day ;o). Cinnamon sugar is a delightful combination all on it's own (but, I must add, even better with fresh squeezed lemon!) :O)

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  22. Well, probably only a ton of work because I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But you know, I really want to do this - our boys have grown up in Ottawa (1 block from the Canal) so it's really been a big part of our experience. I guess I wanted to catalogue it for our family. Glad you like this version Koko and thank you so much for your kind words. Hope to see you on the Canal one day ;o).

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  23. Love the picture of you and the boys :) definitely going to try this recipe xo

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  24. Ah, thanks so much for dropping in Melissa, what a delight to find you here! Glad you like the recipe and the picture... it sure brings back memories to see your sis with her youngsters on the same ice...wow, the circle of life and it's all happening right here in Ottawa! haha... xo.

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  25. your healthy version looks a lot like the original. i've never had one but they sound sweet!

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  33. Thank you kindly Kelly. It's always a pleasure reading your blog. I really love the way you weave tidbits of your lovely life into it.

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  34. Could you mix the dough in a stand mixer? I live in Toronto and have about a half a dozen beaver tails in a week when I visit ottawa

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  35. Hi Dina, thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words - (the final product did look closer to the original so I was happy with that!) - sweet they are ;0)

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  36. Hello, and thank you visiting my blog! Always nice to see new faces here. You could definitely mix the dough in a stand mixer but you may miss out on some of the critical rise cycles that are built in to the bread machine... I would be very interested to hear if you were able to get a nice rise from this method. If you try it, you may want to knead the dough by hand a little longer following mixing and allow it to rise for about 45 minutes covered with a dish cloth and set in a warm'ish location. If that doesn't work, you could try the more deliberate bread making method set out here: http://newfinmysoup.blogspot.ca/2010/10/new-doughnut-rage-newfie-tongues.html

    Good luck and please let me know how it goes if you give it a try Happy to hear you're a Beavertail fan! ;o)

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  37. That's one huge skating rink!!! I'm use to the little rink inside a building where you just go around in circles until you're dizzy. That skateway is incredible! Now for the beavertails. First of all, I just love the name and they do look like beavertails. The fried one remain me of Indian Fry bread here in NM, except fry bread isn't made with whole wheat flour so it's even less healthy. I love that you have perfected a healthy baked version! What a sweet and delicious treat!!!

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  38. I've never heard of beavertails before, but goodness gracious they look great!

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Thank you for your feedback - it's wonderful to hear from you!