Before I visited the Canadian Arctic, I had no idea I had so much in common with polar bears. Like the bears, I, too, have a well-documented heightened sense of smell. Then there's the fact that here on the southern shores of Hudson Bay, in the transitional zone between tundra and boreal forest, polar bears travel out to the sea ice to hunt for seals -- four pounds of seal blubber is all they need during a typical March day to replenish their diminished fat deposits.
While I, unfortunately, have no diminished fat deposits, I did plan to increase my fat intake by feasting at the Dymond Lake Lodge, from where matriarch Helen Webber and her friend Marie Woolsey developed an incredible collection of recipes, all of which are served here and available in a nine-cookbook self-published series, including Blueberries and Polar Bears, Black Currants and Caribou and Icebergs and Belugas. More than 100,000 copies of the books have been sold based mostly on word of mouth.
An idyllic spot where naturalists, fisher folk and hunters alike return time and again for its isolated beauty and big-payoff hunting seasons, Dymond Lake Lodge is equally known for its culinary repertoire of honest cooking based on local fish and game served in heaping portions with a big dose of awe-shucks charm.
Breakfasts always include excellent dark-roast coffee, fresh-baked bread or cinnamon buns, fruit, a big dish of Red River cereal, and a daily special of, say, maple-marinated walleye, winningly deep-fried into fish beignets.
But dessert is always the real highlight, and the reason why I bought Blueberries and Polar Bears. I wanted to recreate these meal toppers at home.
It must be noted that while this dessert comes from the cookbook, author Helen does mention that the recipe actually came from an Australian friend who was a nurse in Churchill. So, like most great recipes, who knows where it really came from in the first place? (Although my guess is Bavaria.)
BAVARIAN APPLE TORTE
¼ cup sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 cup flour
½ tsp vanilla
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (that’s a whole block)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about five big ones)
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup ground or slivered almonds
- Mix together the sugar, melted butter, flour and vanilla. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.
- 2. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Pour into the pastry-lined pie plate and smooth it out.
- Mix together the apples with sugar and cinnamon, then carefully spoon over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with almonds.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 45-55 minutes or until the apples are tender and crust is lightly browned.