Preparation time: 30 minutes
Rising time: 90 minutes
Cooking time: a few minutes
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper invited US President Barack Obama and other American government representatives to a working lunch on Thursday, February 19, 2009. In case you're curious, the lavish meal in the Senate Speaker's quarters of the Parliament Buildings included:
Pacific Coast tuna with a chili and citrus vinaigrette
Maple and miso-cured Nunavut Arctic char
Lightly pickled vegetables and an organic beet relish
Accompanied by Ontario Stratus Wines
Applewood smoked plains bison
Winter root vegetables and local mushrooms
Cauliflower and rosemary puree
Juniper and Niagara red wine jus
Accompanied by British Columbia Qualisgate wine
Saugeen yogurt pot de creme with a lemon and lavender syrup
Wild blueberry and partridgeberry compote
Acadian buckwheat honey and sumac tuile
Accompanied by Neige 2006 from La Face Cachée de la Pomme, Québec
Before boarding Air Force One back to Washington D.C, the president and his 50-car motorcade took an unscheduled detour into Ottawa's Byward Market in quest of that most Canadian of delicacies – a beaver tail, a pastry that has been synonymous with the capital since 1980. Imagine the official parade stopping off in front of Hooker's Beavertail Hut on George Street, amid the narrow thoroughfares of Ottawa's oldest sector. Barack Obama nonchalantly walked into the shop like an ordinary tourist to buy a box of treats.
But what exactly is a beaver tail? It's a Canadian pastry made of whole-wheat dough, shaped like a much-respected national symbol: a beaver's tail. Cooked in canola oil, they are served hot with a variety of toppings: cinnamon and sugar, chocolate hazelnut Nutella, maple butter or apple cinnamon. During the days of election fever when Obama won the presidency, the owner created a special "Obama Tail": the same base topped with cinnamon and sugar, a whipped cream "O," chocolate sauce, and some maple.
The recipe that follows is not the original one of course. It's a trademark secret but you can have a glimpse of that treat if you are not able to come in the capital.
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar and the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Set aside until foamy.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oil, 2-1/3 cups water, salt, and 4 tablespoons sugar. Add the yeast mixture, and gradually mix in flour to form a smooth supple dough that no longer sticks to your fingers.
- Place the dough in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp tea towel, and place in a warm place, such as a warm turned-off oven, to rise for 1-1/2 hours.
- Form the dough into balls about the size of eggs, then roll flat to make ovals about 1/4 inch thick. Cover with a cloth and continue with the remaining dough.
- Heat the oil to 385° F (195° C) in a deep fryer, pot, or electric frying pan, checking the temperature with a candy thermometer. If you prefer them slightly softer, you can decrease the temperature to 350° F / 180° C.
- Fry donuts one at a time, until light brown on both sides. Place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with white sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice while still hot.
Bottom photo: Canwest News Service
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