Navajo Fry Bread

from American Cooking: The Great West, of the Time-Life Foods of the World series

2 cups unsifted flour
1/2 cup dry milk solids
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard, cut into 1/2-inch bits, plus 1 pound lard
for deep frying
1/2 cup ice water

Combine the flour, dry milk solids, baking powder and salt, and sift them into a deep bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of lard bits and, with your fingertips, rub the flour and fat together until the mixture resembles flakes of coarse meal. Pour in the water and toss the ingredients together until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Drape the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.

After the resting period, cut the dough into three equal pieces. Then, on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a rough circle about 8 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. With a small sharp knife, cut two 4- to 5-inch-long parallel slits completely through the dough down the center of each round, spacing the slits about 1 inch apart.

In a heavy 10-inch skillet, melt the remaining pound of lard over moderate heat until it is very hot but not smoking. The melted fat should be about 1 inch deep; add more lard if necessary. Fry the breads one at a time for about 2 minutes on each side, turning them once with tongs or a slotted spatula. The bread will puff slightly and become crisp and brown. Drain the Navajo fry bread on paper towels and serve warm.

Makes three 8-inch round breads.


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