When I posted about the Navajo Fry Bread this spring, I promised to experiment this summer with a variant that included fresh blueberries in the dough.
While the experiment was not a complete success, it was good enough to repeat, with some refinement.
First of all, I changed the recipe for the dough somewhat to reflect my recent attempt to replace as much refined grains with whole grains. So, most of the flour in the dough is a mixture of traditional whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour, with just a very small amount of all purpose white flour. I also lowered the amount of honey, from five tablespoons to three, with no appreciable difference in flavor.
I also used the traditional lard in the dough instead of the oil I use in my regular recipe; the change was not noticeable, so I would say that one could choose whether to use a vegetable oil or pork lard based on personal preference and what one thinks of partially saturated animal fats vs. polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
The rising time of this dough was considerably longer than what I use in my regular recipe; I ended up starting the dough the evening before I meant to use it; the next evening, I made plain fry bread to go with bison and bean chili and calico salsa. I intended to knead blueberries into the other half of the dough to fry up for dessert, but no one was hungry after fry bread, beans and bison, so I put the dough back in the fridge and let it rise in the cold for one more night.
I got up the next morning, kneaded in the blueberries, shaped the little breads and fried them for breakfast.
I served them with honey, powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar for each person to sprinkle their bread as they saw fit or not.
The results were mixed: most of the breads fried just fine with the berries in them; one smallish bread that had probably too many berries for its size, which Morganna got, did not fry completely in the middle. The liquid from the blueberries seemed to keep the dough raw in the center in that one piece. It may also be that it was the last piece of bread to fry and I had turned the heat down, and the oil may have cooled off a bit too much.
Morganna also complained that the dough, on its longer rise, had become too yeasty to blend well with the blueberries; however, that will be easily combatted by simply making certain not to let the dough rise over a two day period and instead let it rise no more than 24 hours total.
Zak, Brittany, Donny and myself all seemed to find the bread to be good and ate it happily, so while I will not say it was a complete success, I think it is worth experimenting with again in the future.
The change in flours did not seem to affect the palatability of the bread, either plain and dipped in chili or with blueberries and eaten for breakfast in a negative fashion at all. In fact, the resulting breads were still light and fluffy on the inside, very flavorful, and crisp and lightly chewy on the outside. They tasted great, in fact, with very little all-purpose flour in them.
The blueberries were little nuggets of juicy sweetness that made a nice contrast to the light, fluffy interior, and those on the outside, caramelized slightly and were chewier, yet still contrasted with the thin, crispy crust.
Here is the modified recipe, taken from the original recipe posted in March.
Blueberry Navajo Fry Bread
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons lard (I think that you can use vegetable oil–the lard did not change the flavor or texture of the bread to my taste)
2 cups hot water (bathwater temperature)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast yeast (I use SAF)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-3 cups additional all purpose flour (I ended up using about 1 1/2 cups AP flour here)
1/2 pint fresh blueberries, washed and thoroughly dried, with stray stems picked off
Peanut oil for deep frying
Mix together honey, lard or oil, water and yeast. Allow to sit to proof yeast.
Put first four cups of flour, salt and baking powder into bowl and stir well. When yeast mixture is foamy and thick, pour into flour bowl and stir until it forms a thick batter. Add one or two more cups of flour, oil hands well and begin kneading to incorporate flour. Knead until the dough is firm and begins pulling away from sides of the bowl and pulls dough off of your hands.
Spray the inside of a large ziplock bag with canola oil, and put the dough in, then seal it up, leaving plenty of air inside. Put into the refrigerator and allow to rise for about twelve hours. Degas the dough by squeezing it and deflating it and let it rise again, preferably overnight.
When you are ready to fry, take the dough from the refrigerator and open the bag slightly, and allow the dough to come to room temperature. When it is warmed up, on a floured countertop, knead in the fresh, washed and dried blueberries gently. Try and get them evenly distributed through the dough and try to not break too many of them.
Then, roll the dough into a long rope and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball, and flatten into a disk that is slightly thinner in the middle and fatter on the edges. Make certain there are not too many blueberries in any pieces–8 or so is about the maximum you can have and not have soggy dough in the middle.
Flour them sparingly, and keep the ones you are not working with covered to keep the dough from drying out.
Heat oil in a wok to frying temperature. (The easiest way to test if the oil is hot enough is to use a bamboo chopstick. If you put the tip of the chopstick in the oil and bubbles form around it immediately, the oil is hot enough. If it takes a minute or so for them to form–it is still too cool. Wait a minute and try again.)
Slide each disk gently into hot oil and cook about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until nice golden brown. Allow to drain on paper towels and serve hot.
You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or drizzle them with honey. Or, you can do like I did and eat them plain.
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