This bread is an easy and delicious one that pioneers learned from contact with Native Americans. It did not require yeast – simply the flour, salt and baking powder from their staple supplies and some oil in which to fry it.
The secret is in not over-kneading the dough otherwise it becomes tough – just work it enough to combine it then leave it to rest for a while. What you are looking for is that crispness from the frying on the outside and soft texture inside.
Native American Fry bread can be slit open and have stew placed inside, torn into pieces and used to mop up the gravy from a venison stew, served like a taco with pulled pork, shredded beef and various vegetables on top or served as a sweet ending to meal with a dollop of cream, or double cream plain yogurt, and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
Fry Bread Recipe
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ cups tepid water It needs to be at around 105F (41C). Make it by mixing 2 parts cold water to 1 part boiling water.
- 1 cup oil sunflower, canola or coconut are good options
- In a medium size bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
- Make a well in the center, and add one cup of the water, drawing in the flour from the sides.
- Only add the remaining ½ cup of water if you see it is still too dry – the dough should be a bit sticky but not sloppy.
- Knead with floured hands to combine and smooth out the mix.
- Set aside to stand for a few minutes while you prepare the pan in which you will heat the oil to fry the bread.
- The oil should be about an inch deep across the bottom of the pan and should be hot –350 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer or simply take a tiny piece of dough and put it in the pan – it should start puffing up and sizzling immediately – if it sinks to the bottom the oil isn’t hot enough. You don’t want the bread to absorb the oil – remember crisp outside, soft inside.
- Cook one fry bread at a time for around 2 minutes, then turn to do the other side.
- Remove with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
- Serve hot with the various toppings chosen.
Some people prefer larger fry breads – the ones here are only 5 inches across. If you don’t want them puffing up too much in the middle then make a small hole in the middle with your finger – they will still puff up but look more like donuts.
If you want flatter fry bread, then press the dough out thinner – almost like pizza dough – but then they will be crispier and there won’t be the softness inside. Frankly, I prefer the round puffy ones.