Dear Laura: I hope you can help me. I’m looking for a recipe for Indian Fry Bread or Navajo Bread. This bread is deep-fried. Also, do you have any good recipes for a sourdough starter? I’d like hints or suggestions on handling the starter and recipes, too. Thank you for your help. - T. Rose, Spokane.
Dear T. Rose: Some Indian fry breads are made with yeast dough, but a quick-bread version like this one is more common and authentic.
Navajo Fry Bread Adapted from “Betty Crocker’s Southwest Cooking.”
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening or lard
2/3 cup warm water
Vegetable oil for frying
Combine dry ingredients; cut in shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl. Gather into ball; cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil to 400 degrees in a 4-quart Dutch oven or deep-fat fryer. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 6-inch circle on lightly floured surface. Let rest a few minutes.
Make a 1/2 -inch hole in center of each circle. Fry circles, turning once, until puffed and golden, about 1 minute on each side; drain. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 breads.
To get sourdough flavors representative of the Yukon or San Francisco, purchase a dried sourdough starter from a food specialty shop or gourmet section of a supermarket and follow package directions for rehydrating. Or, for an Inland Northwest Starter, create your own with the following recipe.
The most important thing to remember in starting and caring for sourdoughs is that they are alive. They must be fed and kept warm (but not too hot) to grow. The ideal temperature for fermentation is 80 to 90 degrees; keep the starter away from drafts or higher heat.
After initial fermentation, the starter may be kept at room temperature for about 3 days without feeding and using. If stored in the refrigerator, the time between feedings may be extended to a week. After refrigeration, let stand at least an hour at room temperature (70 to 80 degrees) before using.
Try to replenish and use the starter at least once a week. If longer storage is required, freeze the starter. When ready to thaw, allow starter to stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours before using.
To avoid spoilage, wash the starter crock or jar about once a week with a detergent and warm water. Rinse and dry well before returning starter to crock.
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups unsifted flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups cold water
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Measure dry ingredients into large bowl or crock. (Allow space for up to four times the starter’s original volume.) Stir in yeast and cold water. Cover with towel; let stand in warm place (80 to 90 degrees is ideal), stirring it down daily. In 3 or 4 days it should have a pleasantly sour odor. At this point the starter is ready for use or storage. To store, cover tightly and refrigerate. Then use with the following or other sourdough recipes.
1 cup sourdough starter
1-1/2 cups warm water
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 cups flour
To feed starter: The night before you plan to make bread, remove starter from refrigerator and add warm water and 2 cups flour. Mix well; place 1 cup starter in a clean pint jar or a crock to save for the next use. Cover jar and bowl with towel. Set in warm place free from drafts overnight.
The next morning, fit lid on jar or crock of starter; place in refrigerator. (Starter may be kept at room temperature if planning to use within 3 days.)
Stir shortening, baking soda, salt, sugar and 1 cup flour into bowl with remaining starter. Work in additional flour, about 1 cup, to make a stiff dough.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in greased bowl; cover with damp cloth. Let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. (This takes longer than a typical yeast dough; allow about 3 to 4 hours.)
Punch down and form into loaf; place in greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Lightly grease top of loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until bread shrinks from sides of pan, about 40 minutes. Remove from pan. If desired, brush top crust with butter. Cool on rack.
Sourdough Roll Variation: Prepare dough as above, except increase sugar to 3 tablespoons. Form dough into rolls instead of loaf.
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups warm water
2-1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
To feed starter: The night before you plan to make pancakes, remove starter from refrigerator and add warm water and 2-1/2 cups flour. Mix well; place 1 cup starter in a clean pint jar to save as starter for the next use. Cover jar and bowl with towel. Set in warm place free from drafts overnight. The next morning, fit lid on jar or crock of starter; place in refrigerator. (Starter may be kept at room temperature if planning to use within 3 days.)
Add vegetable oil and egg to batter remaining in bowl; mix thoroughly.
In a separate container, combine salt, baking soda and sugar; stir to blend, then fold into batter. This will cause a foaming action. Do not beat. Allow to stand a few minutes; bake on hot, lightly greased griddle.
Sourdough Waffle Variation: Use recipe for pancakes, increasing vegetable oil to 3 tablespoons.
Sourdough Biscuit Variation: Using pancake or waffle batter, stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough. Knead, then pat out to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with biscuit cutter. Fit into greased pan; let rise until doubled. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.
, DataTimes MEMO: Have a food question? Looking for a recipe? Laura Carnie, a certified family and consumer scientist and food consultant in Coeur d’Alene, would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.