Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fry Bread - School Project

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...It's not much of a recipe, but it comes with a fascinating history that curious minds and my older grandsons might find interesting. Fry bread is the politically correct name that has been given to what was once called squaw bread. For my friends in Asia, Africa and Europe, and others not schooled in American history, the word squaw was once used to describe native American women in an insulting and derogatory way. Native tribes across the United States have been working for decades to remove this, and other demeaning words used to describe their people, from the English lexicon. They are slowly making progress. The bread that carried that offending name was not part of their diet until the tribes were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and placed on reservations. The Navajo call this period of their history the "Long Walk", while the Cherokee, also subject to the forced march, referred to it as the "Trail of Tears". To supplement meager food stores and prevent starvation, they were given allotments of white flour, baking powder, salt and lard by the army. They used it to fashion a simple skillet bread that became a staple of their diets while they were kept on the reservations. While no longer commonplace, it is still served at tribal feasts and gatherings and some believe that eating the bread is a sacred tradition that must be continued until the earth is again purified. Bob and I first had fry bread at a ceremony called a Tsalila that is held on the Oregon coast. The bread is traditionally made with lard and its texture depends on how it is fried. When deep fried it is fluffy and has a texture similar to Yorkshire pudding or popovers. When shallow fried, it is crisp and has a decided cracker-like crunch when bitten. This bread, like all fried doughs, is best eaten straight from the fryer. The dough can, however, be made ahead of time and be stored in the refrigerator for a day or so before cooking. The finished bread can be split and filled with meat or other fillings, but most prefer it spread with jam or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. It is very easy to make and would be wonderful for a school project. Here's the recipe.

Fry Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 tablespoons lard, melted (butter may be substituted)

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup room temperature milk

4 cups oil for deep frying


1) Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

2) Combine water, milk and lard or butter in a large measuring cup.

3) Slowly add liquids to flour and mix just until dough forms a ball. Knead in the bowl, about 10 times, to form a smooth ball that is not sticky. A small amount of flour may be added if needed. Cover dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

4) Heat oil in a deep fryer or a high-sided pan. If using an electric pan set thermostat to 350 degrees F.

5) Divided dough into 8 approximately equal pieces. Pat on a floured board or with floured hands to form circles about 5 to 6-inches in diameter. Place dough, a piece at a time, into hot oil and cook for 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all dough is used. Yield: 8 pieces.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Indian Pudding - Simply Recipes

Navajo Fry Bread and Navajo Tacos - Commonplace Kitchen

Cherokee Fry Bread - Bake Space

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