In the middle of the winter, hot food seems essential–oatmeal rather than Cheerios, soup over salad, and great hunks of coarse-grained bread straight from the oven.
But this is summer. It’s hot. And, this summer, humid.
Reading Lucy’s wonderful post about sourdough bread, I wondered if Lucy has ever tried breaking off small pieces, rolling them out, and simply pan-frying the dough. This is what I do during much of the hottest summer weather. Every culture has some kind of simple fried bread tradition–including, as Lucy points out in her article, the tortilla, and her mother’s pan-baked English muffins.
We’re a bread-on-the-dinner-table kind of family. But baking in this heat (while I await the installation of the range on our screened porch to create a summer kitchen) is unpleasant. So, I mix up some bread dough–white, mixed grain, rye–any type works. If it’s a recipe for four loaves, I divide it into four pieces and freeze each in a separate plastic bag.
About a half hour before cooking, I remove a bag from the freezer and then break off small pieces, rolling each into a thin circle (or whatever shape forms under the rolling pin), and fry in a hot, ungreased cast-iron skillet for a few minutes on each side. (You can use a bit of oil in the pan if you prefer, but I generally fry the dough dry.) If you don’t use all of the dough, it will store in the fridge for 10 days easily–and you don’t have to go through the semi-thawing process.
I like to think that I’m doing what early settlers did when they made Johnny cake from cornmeal–if there was no oven or it was too hot to get a wood-fueled cookstove oven up to temperature, fried bread was a solution. And it tastes really good.
Of course this kind of bread usually accompanies a cold supper of assorted salads, or simply cheese and sliced fresh vegetables.
What’s on your summer table?