Here we will make four quick breads that require minimal ingredients and can be cooked on a stovetop. These breads have historical significance as staple foods that kept many of our ancestors alive through the worst of times. You might recognize one or two of them, or you may still make them; but once you have the experience cooking them and understand the methods and their taste, you can add them to your prepping recipes and implement hundreds of variations on them. This will keep you in hearty food with minimal resources through even the worst of times.
Potato & Parsnip Farl
Potato Farl is a staple potato skillet scone-type bread traditionally eaten in Scotland and Ireland for breakfast or as a snack. It’s similar to a potato pancake made with mashed potatoes. You can use just potatoes or part potatoes and parsnips, sweet potato, yams, beets, turnips, jicama, cassava, or another starchy vegetable. That’s what I like about this recipe. The variations can mix up the flavors and textures, keeping it from being ordinary, while the all-potato version provides a precise flavor baseline. Because I have parsnips in my garden right now, I will use potatoes and parsnips and include a few of the leafy parsnip greens to flavor it up a bit. If you don’t have parsnips, just use the equivalent amount of potato to make the traditional form.
Farl, originating from the Gaelic term for quarters, embodies the traditional practice of compressing the blend into a circular shape, dividing it into quarters, and subsequently pan-frying the segments in a modest amount of butter. These are essentially a harmonious combination of mashed potatoes, flour, and butter seamlessly blended together.
What you will need:
Peel and cube potatoes and parsnips. Boil until fork tender. When mashable, remove from heat drain, and add 1 ounce of butter. That will be equivalent to two tablespoons. Mash the vegetables together. There are many ways to do this, from a ricer, a masher, a pestle, or placing it in a bowl and simply mashing it through a fork. It doesn’t need to be a smooth puree, and a few small chunks are fine. Let it cool down for about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the flour and baking powder and mix the ingredients together. I will here add a few of the chopped parsnip leaves to give my batch a little fresher taste. You could use parsley or some other herb if you like, or omit the greens altogether. Add water or flour by the tablespoon if needed to obtain a dough consistency that isn’t too sticky. Transfer the mixture onto a floured surface, flatten it into an approximately ⅓ inch (or 1 centimeter) thick circle, and proceed to pizza cut and divide it into four equal portions. Heat the remaining butter in a skillet or frying pan. Cook the sections on medium to medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until golden on each side. Serve warm. This was one of the best tasting of all the breads I made here.
This whole recipe will have approximately 54 grams of carbs, 20 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein, which make it a great breakfast to start your day.
Now that you know how to make the potato Farl, you should know the soda bread version of the same thing. Soda bread usually employs baking powder as a leavening agent, which eliminates the requirement for an acidic ingredient, unlike traditional recipes that rely on a combination of baking soda and an acidic component like buttermilk or yogurt to generate carbon dioxide gas for rising. I will not use baking powder in favor of a more traditional recipe where you have access to baking soda but not baking powder. Because of this, we will add milk I soured slightly by adding one tablespoon of vinegar (the acid) and setting it aside for 10 minutes.
The skillet imparts a combination of a crispy crust and a tender, dense, and moist interior to the bread. When preparing these skillet breads, it is crucial to avoid rapid browning of the exterior. In contrast to the faster cooking time of potato-based versions, these breads should be cooked for approximately 15 minutes per side, ensuring that the heat evenly reaches the center of these dense loaves for thorough cooking. To achieve this, cook them on medium-low heat.
What you will need:
Pour vinegar into measured milk and set aside for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with baking soda and salt. Pour in the milk and mix until a sticky dough forms. Add water or flour by the tablespoon if necessary to obtain a dough consistency that isn’t too sticky. Flour the countertop, then transfer the dough onto the floured surface. Knead it until it forms a soft ball, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer the mixture onto a floured surface, flatten it into an approximately ⅓ inch (or 1 centimeter) thick circle, and proceed to pizza cut and divide it into four equal portions.
Carefully place the wedges onto the preheated skillet. Cook the farl for 15 minutes on the first side until it turns a deep golden color. Flip the farl and cook for an additional 15 minutes on the second side. Monitor the bottom of the bread to avoid burning. Adjust the heat slightly if necessary. The bread should take 15 minutes on each side to achieve a golden crust and a moist but cooked interior.
This whole recipe will have approximately 43 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein. I’ll be honest. These are pretty bland and definitely should be used as a base or carrier for something more flavorful. These would make great biscuits to sandwich eggs and bacon together or to serve with butter or jam.
Native American Fry Bread
Fry bread has a complex history intertwined with the Native American experience. It emerged during the mid-19th century due to forced relocations and the displacement of Indigenous peoples in the United States. Native Americans were given government-issued commodities, including flour, which became a staple ingredient in their cuisine. Fry bread was born out of necessity, utilizing this commodity to create a simple and versatile food source that could be easily prepared by frying the dough in oil, tallow, or lard. This recipe has some more modern convenience additions like baking powder.
What you will need:
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently mix ingredients together, then add milk. You will want the consistency of a dough ball you can gently knead. Only knead it a little to make sure the ingredients are well incorporated. Over-kneading will result in tougher bread. Add milk or flour by the tablespoon if needed to obtain a dough consistency that isn’t too sticky. Heat oil to 350 degrees. You can check this by dropping a dime size dollop into the oil, and it should begin bubbling immediately. Divide the large dough ball into four uniform pieces for a batch this size. Press flat to 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thickness. I like to let them rest for a few minutes at this point to let the dough relax a bit. Gently place them in the oil. Don’t overcrowd your pan when frying. Do one or two at a time if you are working with a smaller pan. Overcrowding will result in uneven cooking. Fry for 1 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Eat fresh or place on a cooling rack to allow excess oil to drip off. This bread is best when freshly fried and doesn’t keep well. It’s like savory and unsweetened doughnuts or beignets.
This whole recipe will have approximately 26 grams of carbs, 19 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein. That will keep you going and easily ward off hunger pangs.
Fried Corn Mush
Technically, this isn’t bread, but I think it fits here because of the method of cooking and the cereal grain used. Fried mush is a dish made from cooked cornmeal or a similar grain that is then cooled, sliced, and fried in butter or oil until golden and crispy on the outside. It is more commonly associated with porridge or breakfast cereal-like consistency rather than being categorized as bread. This is a traditional food from the Midwest and South. It’s similar to polenta, but fried mush is firmer and not served as porridge. Making fried mush is a three-step process, as you want the corn meal to be cooked and set up first and be firm enough for cooking.
What you will need:
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Combine the cornmeal, cornstarch, milk, and salt in a separate bowl. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can omit it. The cornmeal has enough starch to accomplish the minimal firmness required, but I add a teaspoon of cornstarch because it will firm up the final product even more. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the boiling water, stir constantly to avoid clumping, and combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Bring the mixture to a boil again while gently and continually stirring. Allow to bubble for 15 minutes, allowing the starches to pull the ingredients into a solid form. It will blow air out in little steam geysers. As they say in the South, “blowing kisses.” Adjust your heat down if it also shoots out tiny bits of mush.
Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch flat pan and allow it to cool to room temperature. A larger pan will give you a thinner square that will be trickier to cook but crispier. Once the cornmeal has cooled, cover it with plastic wrap and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight or until the mixture has become firm. This may take a full 8 hours. Do not put the pan in the fridge until it is completely cooled, and do not cover it until it is completely cooled. You want to avoid condensation, which will complicate the firming process. Once it firms up, carefully remove the cornmeal from the pan and slice it into uniform pieces as you might a brownie.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When the pan is hot, carefully add the slices and fry them until they become golden brown and heated through. Adjust the heat down to prevent burning, but you want them to be a nice golden brown. After the first side has turned golden brown, flip the slices and continue frying until the other side achieves the same golden hue. They will taste best when they are similar in color to crispy hashbrowns, as the golden hue indicates a richer and toastier flavor. If the cornmeal sticks, add butter to the skillet as required.
These are best served warmly with honey, maple syrup, gravy, salsa, melted cheese, or taco meat. This whole recipe will have approximately 30 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein.
Whether you’re looking to enrich your prepping recipes or simply indulge in comforting and nourishing food, these quick breads will remind you of the resilience and adaptability of traditional cuisines across generations. These four quick bread recipes showcase the rich historical significance of staple foods that sustained our ancestors through challenging times. Check out the City Prepping, Cooking playlist for more easy-to-make meals from your stored food. By preparing these breads with minimal ingredients and cooking them on a stovetop, we embrace their traditional roots and discover their versatility through countless variations. Each recipe offers a unique and hearty experience, ensuring that even in the most challenging circumstances, we can enjoy delicious and filling meals with limited resources.
As Always, stay safe out there.