When I was growing up in Arizona, we’d occasionally go to a fair that had Indian exhibits with jewelry and blankets and pottery and other beautiful artisan objects. As a kid, what I remember looking forward to when visiting the fairs was Indian fry bread, a soft square or rectangular pillow of bread, fried in oil until it puffed, and then usually drizzled with honey. It’s a close relative of the sopapilla, and everyone makes it just a little differently-some versions are denser, more bread-like, and some are lighter and more puffy. All versions are fried in oil, and this is where I digress.
I don’t have anything against deep fried foods done well, but I don’t like the mess of deep frying things at home, and I don’t have a desire to buy another piece of equipment solely designated for deep frying. So I’m modifying these fry bread into a no-fry whole wheat version, while still trying to keep the richness you get from deep frying the bread by adding butter and milk to the dough, and brushing the top with melted butter. It’s essentially my whole wheat pizza dough with a few adjustments, and it’s an easy way for me to enjoy a favorite childhood treat in a new grown-up version.
Whole Wheat Indian No-Fry Bread
(adapted from The Feast of Santa Fe: Cooking of the American Southwest by Huntley Dent)
150g white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
150g whole milk, scalded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
one large baking sheet
Mix the flour and yeast and salt together in a bowl or container. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a glass dish in the microwave until it just begins to boil. Let the milk cool to around 100 degrees or until it’s just warm to the touch. Melt two tablespoons of the butter and stir into the milk. Mix the milk and butter mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until the flour is completely moistened. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
After twenty minutes, uncover the dough, wet your hand with water and very gently use a stretch and fold technique on the dough, lifting and stretching the underside of the dough all around, and then turning the dough over so the bottom is now the top. The dough will be very loose on the first stretch and fold but will become more cohesive and elastic as the gluten develops with time and each successive stretch and fold. Repeat this action two more times every twenty minutes, keeping the container the dough is in covered in-between each stretch and fold.
After the third stretch and fold, lift the dough from the container and place on a floured surface, stretching slightly and evenly into a square shape. Cover and let sit for twenty more minutes.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place a large baking sheet on the middle shelf. After twenty minutes, uncover and divide the dough into four equal pieces. Carefully stretch each piece of dough into a 4-inch x 4-inch square, and place the four pieces of dough on a large piece of parchment paper. Remove the preheated baking sheet and quickly but carefully transfer the parchment paper with the dough onto the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The dough will rise and puff slightly. In the meantime, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Remove the bread and immediately brush the entire top of each piece of bread with a little of the melted butter. Serve while still hot and drizzle generously with raw honey.
Serves 2 to 4 people