Phil and Jodi Make Frybread
August First on the Road is a new series where we’ll follow Jodi and Phil on their adventures beyond the bakery. Grab a snack and buckle up!
“We’ll have no service for the next day!” “I made a quince tarte tatin that was AMAZING!” “About to go on a bakery tour!” These are common updates we receive from Phil and Jodi as they make their way from Vermont to California. Camper baking. Bakery tours. Far from service. Would we like to be guests in Phil and Jodi’s camper, enveloped in the aroma of tarts? Oh, yeah. But even though we can’t be, at least not this trip (wink face), we’re grateful to live vicariously through their travels.
Phil and Jodi’s most recent digital postcard to August First sends us to the kitchen. Tales of their travels are accompanied by a frybread recipe from Phil’s teenage years. A recent drive through Arizona led them to revisit the recipe, and it’ll brighten up the snowiest Vermont day. I’ll let them share the rest from here!
What’s Frybread and Why Should You Make It?
It’s a Sunday morning and you want something greasy and doughy, but you’re cozy and maybe a little groggy. What to do? Cook up some frybread!
Frybread is a basic fried dough with Native American roots, and is similar to beignet, bannock, or funnel cake. It’s versatile, quick and easy to make, and can be enjoyed as a savory or sweet treat. Plus, you probably already have all the ingredients on hand!
Flour, water, salt, baking powder and oil is all you need. A bowl, a frying pan, and a bit of attention to detail make one of the most versatile bread staples in existence. Pair a plain version with scrambled eggs and hot sauce, or a rich lentil stew. Shake hot frybread in a bag with cinnamon and sugar for a rustic doughnut. Top it with some sauce, cheese, fruit or veggies, pop it under a flame, and you have a mini pizza.
It’s a dish to add to your recipe collection, and something you can pull out on a whim to make a plain meal more interesting. But, be warned, it is heavy in calories, so it’s best to use frybread as a treat and not a staple.
History of Frybread
I feel strongly that I am not in a place to share the story of frybread. When I googled it I learned that there are varying perspectives within the Indigenous community in regards to it. As a white woman of European descent, I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to voice this history. The story of frybread isn’t mine to tell. Instead, here are links to articles and recipes written by Indigenous peoples to learn more about frybread.
How Phil Learned To Make Frybread
In 1970, long-haired teenage Phil was stranded in Eastern Washington state for a week due to a broken down van while on a school trip to Alaska. The mechanic was a kind man who donated parts and labor to get the kids and their chaperones back on the road. The travelers were stranded and low on funds, but found a nearby campsite for the week as the van was repaired. He and his family generously provided a few meals for the teens, and one of them was a feast of cooked chicken, vegetables and a huge basket of frybread.
The mechanic’s daughter, whose name unfortunately has been misplaced by decades of time, shared her family recipe with Phil and the group. Phil has made it many times over the years, and sticks to the ingredients and methods he learned back then. It results in a light, soft, yet crunchy bread.
- 1 cup white flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ½ cup cold water
- peanut, safflower, or vegetable oil, for frying
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl with a fork.
- Slowly drizzle in cold water, tossing gently with a fork until evenly distributed, but not completely incorporated. It's important to not over mix. The dough should be on the wet side, but not too sticky to handle with floured hands.
- Coat your hands with flour, then divide dough into 4 evenly sized balls. Gently press each ball into a 4" disc, approximately ¼" thick. Set aside on floured surface, but do not stack them.
- Heat approximately ¼" of oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat. Carefully drop a pinch of dough in the pan. When it sizzles you're ready to fry! If the oil is smoking, it's too hot. Turn down to medium heat, if necessary at any point during frying.
- Carefully add a disc of dough. When lightly browned on bottom, about 1-2 minutes, use tongs to turn it over. Hold the frybread sideways to drain some of the oil back into the pan. Continue to cook until second side is lightly browned.
- Lift the frybread with tongs, hold sideways over pan to drain oil, and remove. Continue to fry remaining pieces, lowering heat if oil becomes too smoky.
- Enjoy hot, add toppings, or toss with cinnamon and sugar, or powdered sugar.