Indigenous ingredients inspire a healthier re-invention of baking classics with Canadian flavour.
By Deborah Reid, Recipes by Dawn Woodward
Strip fat and sugar from the Canadian diet, and our nation would be doomed. In a country where the weather can dip deep into the minus double digits for five months of the year, those two ingredients, when combined with carbohydrates, make countless pleasing combinations that helped us survive.
For 50 years or more much of our baking has been made with ingredients that, like snow, have been white – flour, sugar, shortening and lard. But bakers are increasingly curious about indigenous ingredients and are giving Canadian sweets a makeover. Black walnuts add an earthy flavour to the one-note gooey caramel filling in the much-beloved walnut tart. Pastry, a mostly bland foundation, is being made with flours with robust flavour like buckwheat, rye and the distinctly Canadian wheat, Red Fife.
Baking with Canadian ingredients is a delicious way to express our mostly quiet national pride. Best of all, it's just plain good for us. Whole grain flours that have been stone milled retain their unique flavour and nutritional value. There's more fibre in the flour; they won't have a talcum-like texture because the endosperm and hull remain after milling.
So gather the black walnuts that fall from the tree in your yard, find a local miller or beekeeper. Discover new ingredients that add a unique Canadian appeal to your baking and celebrate the flavours of this beautiful place we call home.
NEXT: Recipe for Black Walnut Tart with Red Fife Crust
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