I was preparing to go to a potluck meeting with fellow food bloggers. Sometimes I feel intimidated coming up with a recipe to bring to this group. I know my dish will be in the company of such creative and divine food. Also, I don't want to bring the same dish as someone else-- for me that would be like going to a party where someone else is wearing the same dress. Although the theme for the meeting was "soups and stews," I decided to bring a "goes with," something that is a wonderful accompaniment to soup.
Apparently, a common cooking dilemma is what to serve with a bowl of soup so that the meal feels complete. The respected online magazine The Kitchn devoted several articles to this theme. Of all the ideas I came across, this skillet bread by Savory Seasonings intrigued me the most. What could be better than something that whips together in "no time," has only 4 main ingredients, is no-knead & no-rise, and produces my favorite food-- bread?
Quickly, I had my confidence back. I couldn't wait to experiment with skillet bread. So what is skillet bread? It's a thin bread made from a simple batter and cooked in a hot skillet in the oven. There's another similar bread called "fry bread," but that one is cooked stove top.
I set out to test several different versions of the bread. The good news is ALL the versions came out; this recipe is hard to ruin. I tried varying the flour and the liquid. Whole wheat pastry flour produces a slightly more delicate crumb than white whole wheat. Buttermilk has a little more flavor than regular milk. Mixing butter into the batter seemed unnecessary. I wrote up my favorite version in the recipe box below. Varying the ingredients yielded small changes, so I would use whatever flour and milk you have on hand. There's even a vegan version made with water and olive oil.
The biggest change comes from adding more flavor into the bread with a "mix-in." The basic bread comes out a little too plain for my family. My daughter, a budding 10-year-old chef, recommends adding brown sugar. My favorite addition is Parmesan cheese and mixed herbs. The possibilities are endless. Other mix-in options include sliced olives, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, chopped grilled vegetables, anise seed & sugar, rosemary & garlic. Be creative with whatever leftovers are in the house.
I really wasn't sure how thick the batter should be. Well, it turns out that is doesn't matter.
The best tip I can give you is to let a cast iron skillet get very hot in the oven. Have two thick pot holders near by so you don't accidentally grab the hot handle. The hot skillet paired with melted butter produces a wonderful crunchy outside to the bread.
|Skillet Bread: The Perfect Addition to Soup Night|| |
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat)
- 1-½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lowfat buttermilk (or 1 cup regular milk)
- 1 tablespoon butter for the pan
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon mixed dried Italian herbs
- Put a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet in the middle of the oven, and preheat the skillet and oven to 400 degrees F. Let preheat for at least 15 minutes.
- Take out a medium bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in any mix-in's.
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix as little as possible to combine so the bread doesn't get tough. The batter may bubble up a little.
- With pot holders, take out the hot skillet. Place the butter in the skillet and let it melt and bubble. With a pot holder, tip the skillet so the butter evenly coats the bottom of the pan. Pour or spread the batter into the pan and quickly smooth into an even layer.
- Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the bottom is dark golden brown and the top is slightly flecked with some light golden spots. Invert, cut in wedges, and serve warm. The bread tastes best right out of the oven.
And now for some soup to go with the skillet bread: