Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fried Yeast Bread

Fried yeast bread is a treat that goes with just about everything. It's good hot, cold, buttered, plain, fresh and leftover (as if!). And... it's frugal!

It takes the most basic of ingredients, adjusted to whatever you have

You can't really ruin this recipe because there are so many variations.

To start with, you'll need a table to knead the dough, and yes, knead it. Not with a bread machine - that takes the life out of bread. Kneading bread is sort of a ritual that gives life to those who eat it and those who knead it.

The recipe:

    1 tablespoon lard, shortening, butter, margarine, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil or vegetable oil or any other fat.
    1 tablespoon sugar, molasses, brown sugar, powdered sugar or honey or anything other real sweetener.
    1 teaspoon table salt, sea salt, canning salt...
    1 heaping tablespoon or 1 package active dry yeast or 1/2 cup of sourdough starter.
    1 cup milk, half milk and half water, or half milk and half potato water, or half water and half potato water, or all potato water or all water.
    3 to 4 cups of white or whole wheat flour, or 2 cups white flour and 1 to 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Substitute oat, rice, barley or any other flour for up to a cup of wheat flour. Add flax seed, poppy seed, sesame seed, garlic, minced onion, sun dried tomatoes...

Warm the liquid (don't let it get too hot to comfortably stick your finger in); add the fat. If you're using solid fat, let it melt.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt and yeast, then pour the liquid with the fat into it. Mix well and add a cup or so of flour, mix again and put it, covered, in a warm place. Go have a cup of coffee or sweep the floor while it begins to work.

In about a half hour (or longer if you're using sourdough starter), it should be bubbly and smell pleasantly yeasty or like your sourdough starter. If it's not yet, wait another half hour or so. Stir it down gently and begin adding flour (use a wooden spoon) until it becomes a soft dough, still a little sticky.

Flour a board or smooth table top generously and turn the dough onto it and knead it, adding flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and silky to the touch. This should take about 5 minutes, maybe more. If you enjoy kneading, it won't hurt it to knead a little more. Kneading not only smooths the dough, it develops the gluten which holds the mixture together, and allows it to rise.

Kneading is an important step in any bread, and you can laugh if you want to, but steel kneading appliances just don't give it life. The touch of a human hand is necessary. Bread making is an art, not a science, and one has to feel their way through from ingredients to finished product to appreciate it.

After kneading, let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes while you heat a skillet over medium heat with about a quarter inch of oil in the bottom.

Pinch off pieces of the dough, roll into a ball and flatten to a quarter to a half inch thickness, and plop them into the skillet. Fry until browned on both sides and brush with butter as soon as you take them out of the skillet.

Fried bread is a perfect compliment to a summer's backyard barbecue or a autumn tailgate party, Easter dinner, or a stew made for a blizzard!
on hand. Sugar can be in almost any form - but no faking it. It has to be real, but it can be molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, honey... you get the idea.

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