Along the Grapevine

Baby Beaver Tails

23 Comments

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Before you leave, please don’t think I have been doing unspeakable things to baby beavers. Most residents of this region would know what I am referring to, but for the rest of you let me explain. Beaver tails are a fried yeast dough, popular especially at this time of year. They were first introduced in the Ontario town of Killaloe in 1978, and have since become a de rigueur winter treat, especially when out skating, especially on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal.

I was inspired to make some for two reasons. First, I am contemplating going skating on the Canal, the world’s largest outdoor, natural skating rink in a couple of days, and thinking I would have to have a beaver tail. After all, in this cold weather a 7.8 km skate calls for something, and that is what you get on the canal. That and hot chocolate.

The second reason is that tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday. It is traditional to eat pancakes on that day, but I figured a lot of other people would be making pancakes and I had nothing new to offer, so with my skate in mind I thought of beaver tails. I have made baby ones because the enormous ones they serve on the canal are just too much. Also, more small individual ones means more types of toppings. And the toppings are where it gets interesting. As soon as they come out of the pan, they are often sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, but maple sugar, jams or preserves can also be used to sweeten them. Alternatively, savoury toppings like garlic butter or strong grated cheese are popular. I just sampled a couple with my own backyard fare – a sweet sumac butter on one and maple butter on the other.

Baby Beaver Tails


Ingredients

1/4 cup warm water

2 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp yeast

1/2 cup warm milk

1 egg

2 Tbsp melted butter

2 3/4 cups flour plus flour for rolling

1/2 tsp salt

oil or lard for frying

Method

Dissolve the sugar in the water and add yeast. Let stand a few minutes until it becomes foamy. Mix the yeast with warm milk, egg and melted butter. In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Add the wet ingredients and combine well. Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Place in a clean bowl, brush with a little oil or melted butter, cover with a cloth and allow to rise to double the size, about two hours.

Punch down and form into balls about the size of a small egg. Roll each one into an oblong shape about 1/4 inch thick. Fry in hot oil or lard about two minutes on each side or until they are nicely coloured. You can deep fry them, but I used about 1/12 inches of oil in a small pan to reduce the amount of oil, and that worked fine.

Drain and sprinkle or spread liberally with whichever topping you choose. Serve warm.

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Be sure to roll them fairly thin as they do puff up a lot when fried. The result is a fluffy light pastry with a crisp exterior, something like a cross between a do-nut and a pancake. They can be frozen and reheated, or you could freeze the dough after its first rising in its punched down state and fry them the next day – especially if you plan to have them for breakfast.

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Have you had a beaver tail? If so, what flavour do you prefer with it?

Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

23 thoughts on “Baby Beaver Tails

  1. Call them what you will…they still look yummy!😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, so kind of like a donut but only shallow fried and not deep fried? Like a pancake but with yeast, right? Anyhow, it doesn’t matter they look nice and toothsome and delicious!!! More “meat” on the bones than pancakes it looks like. I can get into this definitely . . . not much of a pancake or french toast person and even don’t really like the “lighter” bread (weight wise) as much as the bricklike stuff. I hope you get to go skating!!!

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    • Thanks Sue. I too am more of a brick bread type with lots of flavour. I could have adjusted these somewhat, but in the spirit of Shrove Tuesday and skating on the canal, I stuck with the more refined ingredients. However, you can make up for that with whatever you want, and I have to admit the sumac is the best! When I lived in Ottawa skating could be a daily thing, but now I just manage once a year, so it is a little more special. The cold won’t stop me – but a blizzard might. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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  3. I am so cold right now I might as well go skating! I’ll join you anytime if you’re bringing these. Sounds like another variety of donuts or beignets, a new one for me. I love the name! Much more interesting than donuts! Before I kill all my sumac I’d better make that sumac syrup this summer! I still haven’t tried it! 😃

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  4. Oh how I would love to go skating on the canal in Ottawa! These beaver tails look interesting too!

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  5. I ate these when I was at Carnival in Quebec City! They are very delicious with maple sugar! However I love the idea of sumac butter – à la Hilda, of course!😀

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  6. A lovely tale of baby beaver tails Hilda – thank you! I shall have to make these for my family as beavers (the real ones…) are very ‘in’ with us at the moment with at least two beavers having (re-)established themselves in our local river – we cannot cycle past without stopping to check out “Billy Bibers Biberburg” (Billy Beaver’s Beaver Dam) 🙂

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  7. Hadn’t heard the name beaver tails before. Will have to ask my brother who lives in Canada if he knows about them. I’d totally forgotten it was Shrove Tuesday today. Husband and I had to take a walk after tea to buy some eggs for pancakes when I realised a couple of hours ago!

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  8. I’m so glad that no beavers were harmed. Besides I think I’m allergic to beaver meat.🙂 They look delicious and warming.
    Tracey

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  9. I have actually heard of these but it has been several years ago. What a yummy reminder!

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  10. Wow, Hilda, these look delicious! Blogging has taught me all about bear claws and beaver tails😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I wish I could go skating outdoor, too.. In Ottawa!😁even Im not a fan of donuts, but after a long walk or skating Id love to eat those tasty “tails”!:)

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  12. I have saved your blog icon on my iPhone now Hilda since I keep missing on your gorgeous posts.
    Adding this to my list to make. We are snowed in here. A good treat to warmup I guess. Do I have to fry these?

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  13. I don’t think I’ve ever had these, Hilda. My daughter is home from Canada for reading week so I’ll have to make her some. Have fun skating on the canal! People down here always ask me about Canadian winters and I often tell them about people skating to work in Ottawa🙂

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  14. Love this idea! Beavertails are one of the best parts of skating on the canal. When they freeze on the outside and stay warm on the inside… mmmm… so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I will definitely choose fried dough over anything anytime of the year🙂
    Thank you for sharing your tradition with all of us, and yes, this mouthwatering recipe.
    Have fun skating & Have a fantastic day🙂

    P.S. Even though I won’t post until April, I will still be on IG & FB. See you around, lady.
    Thank you SO MUCH for all your kind words on my blog🙂

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  16. I just had a beaver tail for the first time in an unplanned stopover in Ottawa a couple weeks ago (we left for our trip a day early due to a storm coming in and our only real option was to spend a day in Ottawa which didn’t seem too much of a hardship, though it was super cold!). We managed to hit their winterlude festival and it seemed wrong not to try one – I had it with cinnamon sugar and lemon which was delicious. I am sure homemade are better, though!

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  17. When I read the headline I was sure there has to be a story behind that has nothing to do with fluffy little creatures😉. These treats look so tempting, I would love to try one rightaway!

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  18. I can’t even remember when I went skating last! The UK is not a great place for it and over crowded and undersized London ice rinks doesn’t really seem worth it. Coming back to eat baby beaver tails seems like such a treat! They look so good and sumac butter… I must try it🙂

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