Beaver tails were first enjoyed by the early North American voyageurs and today are a staple for skaters on the Rideau Canal. The deep-fried pastries can come with a variety of toppings
and, despite being available under a myriad of names at summer fairs across North America, are considered to be an Ottawa specialty.
With the following recipe, homesick expats can enjoy a copycat version of the treats at home.
1/2 cup warm water
5 teaspoons dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup oil
4 1/4-5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
oil (for frying)
granulated sugar (for dusting)
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, warm water and pinch of sugar.
2. Allow to stand a couple of minutes to allow yeast to swell or dissolve.
3. Stir in remaining sugar, milk, vanilla, eggs, oil, salt, and most of flour to make soft dough.
4. Knead 5-8 minutes (by hand or with a dough hook), adding flour as needed to form a firm, smooth, elastic dough.
5. Place in a greased bowl. Place bowl in a plastic bag and seal. (If not using right away, you can refrigerate the dough at this point).
6. Let rise in a covered, lightly greased bowl; about 30-40 minutes.
7. Gently deflate dough. (If dough is coming out of the fridge, allow to warm up for about 40 minutes before proceeding).
8. Pinch off a golfball-sized piece of dough. Roll out into an oval and let rest, covered with a tea towel, while you are preparing the remaining dough.
9. Heat about 4 inches of oil in fryer (a wok works best, but you can use a Dutch oven or whatever you usually use for frying). Temperature of the oil should be about 385°F
10. Add the beaver tails to the hot oil, about 1-2 at a time, BUT -- before you do, stretch the ovals into a tail - thinning them out and enlarging them as you do.
11. Turn once to fry until the undersides are deep brown.
13. Lift beaver tails out with tongs and drain on paper towels.
14. Fill a large bowl with a few cups of white sugar.
15. Toss beaver tails in sugar (with a little cinnamon if you wish) and shake off excess.
* Dough can also be made in a bread machine on the "dough" setting.