In the fast-moving environment of this modern-day fair, one would little expect to stumble upon a delicious slice of Saskatchewan history. Unique to the Saskatoon EX, you’ll find a fair food unlike all the others in its simplicity – good old-fashioned Doukhobor bread. So old, in fact, that the recipe for it dates back over 200 years to the Russian empire, itself!
How does this one-of-a-kind delicacy continue its age-old tradition here on the Saskatchewan prairie? First, it takes at least 60 volunteers from the Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon to hand-make the bread every day during the Saskatoon EX. Each batch of dough uses 132 pounds of flour which makes 100 loaves of delicious, sweet-smelling bread – all organic ingredients and no additives. Once the dough rises, they are baked in one of three traditional clay-brick ovens heated by high-grade mill works hardwood and fire. All of this takes place at the Fresh Homemade Bread booth at the Saskatoon EX.
The bread-making itself relies on perfect timing; once the ovens are fully heated, the ashes are pulled out and set aside. Then, 33 risen loaves per oven are slid in and left to bake for approximately one hour, until they are beautifully brown on top. Once the loaves are pulled out for cooling, the fire is rekindled for the next batch. Running two shifts, the booth averages about 700 loaves a day. That’s a lot of home-baked goodness!
While you’re waiting in line, be sure to read up on the history of the Doukhobor people right beside the order window! You’ll learn how they came to Canada in 1899 after suffering religious persecution in Russia and how bread is a symbol of their motto, “Toil and peaceful life.”
So why do this? The Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon uses the proceeds from their bread sales at the Saskatoon EX to fund their other activities. They also see it as a way of continuing an important cultural tradition; the older ones teach the younger ones to step in. The volunteers range in age from teenagers to golden-agers and come as individuals and families to make the dough, fire the ovens, and serve the customers.
Since 1972, Doukhobor Bread can be purchased by the slice with butter and jam, or by the loaf. The booth is open daily from 12 noon until midnight (or until the bread sells out).