Keenan Powell: a Taste of Alaska

The Chicks are thrilled to welcome back Keenan Powell, author of the gripping Maeve Malloy Mysteries. Keenan calls the 49th state home. Today, she shares a recipe for one of the state’s iconic treats.


Thanks for letting me come visit, Chicks! In my new book, Hemlock Needle, there is a holiday potluck where no doubt someone would have brought fry bread. So to celebrate the release I developed a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan Alaska Fry Bread recipe.

What is fry bread, I hear you ask? It’s Alaska’s answer to the beignet – that’s what it is.
But first, let me share my love story with Alaska Fry Bread. Almost twelve years ago, my grandson, Brady, was born at the Alaska Native Medical Center which provides health services to Alaska Natives. It was a rough delivery. The baby had a ginormous head, got stuck and ended up with a ginormous conehead and a collapsed lung. (The kid’s fine now.) So while my poor daughter was laboring away, and after I might have gotten on the nurses’ nerves, I took a break and went down to the cafeteria for nourishment and that is when I discovered Alaska Fry Bread.

Since becoming gluten-free, I tried to find the recipe on line for years. There are many fry bread recipes to be found, however the tribes in the Lower 48 make them differently. So I asked my daughter to get the recipe from her mother-in-law, who by the way was my technical advisor for Hemlock Needle. She got the recipe from her mother who lives in the village of Eek. Upon obtaining the recipe, I learned the difference with Alaska fry bread is that it is a sweet yeast bread.

My gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan recipe goes like this:

Dissolve 1 package of yeast in ¼ cup sugar and ½ cup warm water. I let it proof 20 minutes to make sure it was okay.

Then, beat in in ½ cup oil and 1 t. salt.

Add: 1 T. guar gum (For some reason, xanthum gun disappeared in Alaska for a while but you could probably use that instead.)
½ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup garbanzo bean flour
¼ cup millet flour
1 cup sweet white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
¼ cup of sugar
And as much water as necessary to get it to hold together.

Caution: I tried this recipe with a commercial gluten-free baking mix and the bread disintegrated the minute it hit the oil. So I recommend using the mix above instead.

Let it rise. After it’s risen, break off chunks, roll them into a ball, and flatten them to ¼ – ½ inch in thickness and about the size of your palm and fry at 350 degrees for 2 minutes.

You can serve with jam, which is nice, or with powdered sugar, which isn’t worth the mess to me.

Makes 12 servings.

I have no idea how long it’ll keep because they don’t last more than three days in my house. Since it’s rice flour mostly, which dries out and may harden in the fridge, I store on the counter top loosely covered.

What about you Chicks? Got a favorite regional or unique recipe? Or want to share a story about your technical advisor?



Keenan Powell is the author of the Maeve Malloy series. The second book, Hemlock Needle, is being released by Level Best Books in January 2019.

Visit Keenan at:


27 thoughts on “Keenan Powell: a Taste of Alaska

  1. The series and the recipe sound fantastic. I spent a year in Alaska’s interior, a year that had the distinction until recently of recording the all-time low temp of -79 degrees. I’m looking forward to a revisit through Maeve Malloy!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks so much, Kathleen. Living up here it doesn’t seem real. When I go around telling people about the Lefty, I have to explain to them what LCC is and what the nomination means. Takes up a lot of time in the grocery line.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Yum, I LOVE fry bread! I lived in Fairbanks, AK for five months (Feb.-June) eight years ago and loved trying all the local foods (which included a lot of moose, lol). Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks, and congratulations on your Lefty nomination, girl!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Keenan, you had me at Alaskan “beignet”! Hubs is gluten free (and I actually have zantham gum on hand!), so I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks for hanging out with the Chicks — and congrats on the new book!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy it. It’s tougher than beignet but satisfyingly sweet. I just worked out a pancake mix recipe if you’re interested. I had been buying a commercial mix that I liked but recently have had a few bad results so decided to work out my own.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Sounds delicious. I think every culture has some type of fried bread or dough. The Italian-American community in my hometown has a church festival each July, and the line for the fried bread dough, called pizza frete (spelling ?), is sometimes a block long.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Oh my goodness, that looks delicious! And with jam? I am intrigued!

    Congratulations on your new book–which I have read and of course LOVE. This is such a great and unique series. Thank you for visiting, Keenan! Looking forward to seeing you in Vancouver (and congrats again on your Lefty nomination)! xo

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Keenan, Congrats on Hemlock Needle (cool title!) and your LCC nom. The story sounds incredible and I can’t wait to read it! The only fry bread I’ve ever had, outside of the carnival fried dough variety, was part of an Irish fry–basically, sliced Italian or French bread literally fried in the same pan with bacon and an egg and beans and tomatoes. That may be the total opposite of your healthy recipe–and not exactly sweet. Think I’ll need to practice a bit before I tempt anything quite this advanced–but I’ll buy us donuts at Malice!

    Liked by 2 people

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