Saturday, March 24, 2012

Frying Pan Bread

The pioneers didn't plan their meals around My Plate, the food pyramid, or the four food groups. They weren't constantly tempted by prepackaged food and a ridiculous array of junk food, so they probably didn't need dietary guides like we all do. But since my students have had a fair amount of instruction around My Plate this year, I started Thursday's lesson by asking table groups to make a quick My Plate diagram and fill it in with the foods they thought the pioneers would have eaten while they were traveling west. I was pleased with how each group got to work and the thoughtful discussions they had.

After five minutes or so, groups shared with the class while I recorded their thinking on the white board. We got to grains, and someone mentioned bread.

"Would they have packed bread in their covered wagons?" I asked.
The consensus was no.
"Could they bring flour and bake bread in an oven?"
Again, no.
(I know that you can bake bread products in a dutch oven, and I hope we can play around with this kind of baking in a future week, but for now, we left it with the idea of no ovens.)

Next I handed out recipes for a cowboy frying pan bread. We split up into three groups, each one led by an adult: me, Colleen, or Su. Groups read over the recipe, washed hands, and then got to work mixing.

The recipe is a simple one, and I hadn't tried it ahead of time, so it will be no surprise that it was a little trickier than it sounds, even when cooked on a hot plate instead of over an open fire. For one, the recipe directed users to add "just enough" water to form a dough. You gotta love the precision! My group and one other added a bit more than "just enough" and had to dump some extra flour in to keep the dough from getting too sticky. No problem, since more flour created a slightly more realistic ratio between flour and sugar -- the recipe called for 2 c flour to 1 1/2 c sugar!

We patted the dough into a pan, put it over the burners, and then the fun really started. To varying degrees (probably due to different types of pans) the dough started to darken and needed to get flipped, but was so, well, doughy, that one group ended up making scrambled bread! The other two cut the dough in quarters in the pan to make it easier to flip.

Ultimately it came off the heat, was dressed with butter and honey, and eaten happily. With so much sugar in the dough, of course it tasted good, bit in my mind, not such a realistic recipe. I doubt the pioneers would have squandered that much of their precious sugar for a daily bread recipe. Next time I do this, I'll look around for another recipe, maybe even one that I try ahead of time...

P.S. In case anyone was worrying, I got the dishes all cleaned up Friday during the day and the pans weren't that bad after an overnight soaking.

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