This is a traditional Appalachian skillet bread. My great-aunt Ella Fay made it for me when I was a girl. I don’t remember my Granny making it, but I know her dad, my Great-Grandpa Courtney did. It’s traditionally made in an iron skillet and fried in butter or margarine. Be sure to keep the heat medium-low or even low if your stove runs hot. You want the bread to cook all the way through before it gets too brown or burns. Low heat ensures this.
I think in northern areas this might be called Bannock. In Appalachia though, it’s called skillet bread or fry-bread.
I’ve only seen this recipe in one other place, a blog called Writing in the Blackberry Patch. She uses self-rising flour, but my great-aunt always used plain white flour and added her own baking powder and salt. I don’t know how my great-grandpa made it. I just remember thinking he was very clever.
This bread is served cut into wedges or torn into pieces. It’s traditional to serve it covered with sausage gravy or bacon gravy or tomato gravy. It’s good under creamed tuna too. Ella Fay liked hers covered in apple butter.
I don’t think this recipe is in the Fox Fire books, but if anyone knows that it is, please leave a comment so I can look it up in my own collection and show it to my Granny. She loves it when stuff she already knows is in those books.
This recipe calls for 3/4-cup milk and 1-tablespoon vinegar. You can replace this with 1-full cup of buttermilk if you prefer. Another alternative is to use 1/2-cup yogurt and 1/2-cup milk.
Country Style Skillet Bread or Fry Bread
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2-teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4-cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/4-cup margarine or other fat for frying
First get out a large skillet, at least 10-inches. Place the margarine in the skillet and allow it to heat over a low to medium-low temperature. You don’t want it to be too hot.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Crack in the egg and pour in the milk and vinegar. Stir the batter with a fork. It will be very thick, but it will not be a dough. It’s thicker than muffin batter, maybe like drop biscuit batter. Add another spoonful or two of milk if your batter is dry. Mix well.
Use a large spoon or your hand to scrape the batter into the hot skillet on the stove. Spread it all out until it almost covers the bottom of the skillet but doesn’t touch up against the sides. A little touching is okay, but you don’t want it to get stuck to the sides of the skillet.
Make sure the temperature of your skillet is low. Cover the pan with a lid if you have one. This will help it bake more thoroughly.
Allow the bread to cook for 5 to 8-minutes, or until the under side is golden brown and the top has a few bubbles on it, like pancakes.
Now is the tricky part. Using your largest pancake-turner, flip the whole thing over, back into the skillet, and let it settle into place. Cook the second side over low heat, until it’s golden brown and the bread is cooked through. You can poke a knife down into the center to see if it comes out clean. If any dough is sticking to it, then the bread needs to cook a little longer. Turn down the heat if you need to, so it can cook through without burning.
When the bread is done flip it onto a plate. Let it cool for at least 5-minutes and then cut it into wedges. This amount serves 1-very hungry grandpa and a little girl who has helped with the chickens, the turkeys, the cow and worked up a hearty appetite, or 2-starving teenagers. This is a filling bread, and with the milk and egg it’s got enough protein to stick to your ribs.
Here’s a close-up of the edge. You can see how it rises in the center while the top and bottom cook.