Jan had requested meatloaf for dinner and I wanted a bread-like side dish to go with it. Jan has problems with digesting fats and she generally avoids white flour breads. Knowing that Jan would probably eat only a bite or two of this bread—Jan would be happy with just the salad and the meat—freed me to make it how I would really like it to be.
Before I left home for the first time, I sat down with my mother’s recipe box and wrote down my favorite dishes. One of the dishes I copied was Cherokee Fry Bread. The name she called it is not politically correct, but those were the times.
Recently, I have been making biscuits and I thought I would try a variation on traditional fry bread. My mother always used bacon grease to make her fry bread, for this dish I used vegetable oil. I have tried to use just enough oil to grease the pan and that produced a fry bread that was sort of a cross between a flour tortilla and a naan. I wanted something more flakey and crisp, so I used half an inch of oil.
Karl’s Fry Bread
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking power
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs. chilled butter
½ cup milk or water
Deep fat/oil for frying
1. Mix the dry ingredients well.
2. Grate the chilled butter into the flour mixture and then chop it in with a pastry cutter.
3. Chill the butter and flour for 30 minutes.
Tip: The chopping the butter will start to melt the butter slightly. Re-chilling it firms the butter up so that it gets rolled into flakes between the gluten sheets, rather than binding with the flour.
4. Add the milk/water to the dry ingredients to make soft dough.
5. Roll the dough into a rectangle and letter-fold the ends to the middle.
Note: Fold one third of the rectangle to the center and fold the opposite edge over the first fold.
6. Rotate the narrow rectangle 90 degrees and roll out the dough again.
7. Letter-fold the dough sheet again and pull the dough into a ball.
8. Divide the dough ball into 4 and pus the cut edges into the center forming four small balls.
9. Laying the cut edge side down. roll the dough balls out on a floured board into 6-7 inch rounds.
10. Drop the rounds one at a time into deep fat/oil heated to 370° (medium high heat) and flip immediately.
Note: The temperature of the oil/grease is very important. If the oil is just right the surface of the dough sears and locks out any excess oil. If the oil is too cool, the flour in the dough will just suck up the oil and your bread will become very greasy. Too hot and the outside burns before the bread is cooked through. Over time, you will learn what works best with your stove.
11. Cook the breads until they are well browned on both sides, flipping as necessary.
12. Transfer the breads to a wire rack over paper towels.
13. Serve hot.