Posted by: Helen Gobble | January 5, 2011

Hot tangle britches, anyone?


Originally uploaded by Helen Gobble

In festive gatherings, such as most of us experienced during the holiday season of the year, you might have heard a call from the kitchen, “Hot home-made brownies, anyone?” or fresh cookies, or pizza, or home-made fudge — but I’ll allow you never heard this one: “Hot tangle britches, anyone?”

For 80 years or so I have fondly remembered a sweet treat my Cherokee grandmother would make occasionally for me and my five brothers. She never called us until she had the big — really big — ball of dough ready. As we came in, she would pick up the big — really big — skillet. She was so small I still wonder how she ever lifted it. She would put the skillet on the stove and reach into a crock for what I assume was lard. Then the fun began.

She would shoo us back, I realize now looking back, to keep us from the hot grease popping. She got her long knife, which we all knew to stay away from as well. She started rolling the dough with a wood rolling pin, and when it suited her, she began slicing the dough into strips like you use for a lattice pie crust. Then, with a wide spatula, she would lift away a section and carefully lower it into the skillet. She would add another, then another — I think the skillet would hold four sections. There wasn’t much talking, just a word now and then. Soon the tangle britches were piled high on a big platter. After a short cooling time, we ate and ate, and ate, and enjoyed the sweet tangle britches produced by the labor of our little grandma.

I will never forget her.

This Christmas I ventured to ask my daughter Missy — a great cook — about trying to make some tangle britches from what I could remember. While I was describing them and thinking she was maybe not hearing me, she said “Tangle Britches! I’ve got it!” She had found the recipe on the Internet. We had a huge platter of the old-time treat, and it was great — Thank you, Missy!



  1. The tangle britches recipe was fun to make, but I used peanut oil rather than lard for frying. The recipe is at We first thought the recipe might be Indian, but it turned out to be traditional Pennsylvania Dutch.

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