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Naan-like Bread

If you learn anything about me from this blog, it’s that I am not a bread purist. If it tastes good, it’s good. That’s true for this naan recipe too–not traditionally made, but delicious. That counts.

Naan is a leavened flatbread, traditionally made in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay, open-fire oven. I love naan, but unfortunately don’t own a tandoor. I could make one, but my family would likely think I’m nuts, so I’ve settled for a modified naan cooking method instead. Here’s what I did.

The ingredient list is simple:

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast, or one packet
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups plain yogurt (more on this later)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick butter, for brushing

ACTIVATE THE YEAST AND COMBINE WET INGREDIENTS

In a glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, sugar and yeast and let it sit until foamy. This will take about 10 minutes.

After the yeast mixture is foamy, add the warm milk and yogurt and whisk until well incorporated.

Sloppy Baker’s Tip: Ingredient substitution idea… When I first made this recipe, I realized all our plain yogurt had been used for smoothies. I used sour cream instead with great success.

MAKE AND KNEAD THE DOUGH

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Create a well in the center and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix the ingredients together with a well-washed hand. The resulting dough will feel a little dry, but keep mixing until all the flour is well incorporated.

The dough will feel a little dry until kneaded.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth, which should only take three or four minutes.

PROVE THE DOUGH

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about an hour, or until it about doubles in size.

Place the kneaded dough in a large bowl to prove.

Sloppy Baker’s Tip: If you’re not quite prepared to cook your dough when it’s doubled in size, you can place it in the refrigerator for a couple hours until you’re ready. The cool environment retards the yeast’s activity and prevents the dough from over-proving.

DIVIDE AND COOK

When you are ready to cook, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead it into a disk-shape. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll them into balls with your hands, just like you probably did with play-doh when you were a kid.

Sloppy Baker’s Tip: I don’t care if all my pieces of dough are exactly the same size, but it is helpful to have them pretty close to ensure they cook evenly. I use a digital kitchen scale to help ensure each piece of dough is between 70 and 80 grams.

Begin heating a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. I used my Lodge cast-iron skillet. Also, melt a stick of butter in the microwave.

While the skillet is heating and the butter is melting, use a rolling pin to roll each ball until it is about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches diameter. I don’t worry too much about the shape; some naan are round, some are oval, and others are modern art. They all taste good.

Brush the surface the dough with melted butter and place one or two in the hot skillet, butter-side down. Cook until large bubbles form on the surface, about two minutes.

Brush the other side with butter and then flip the dough and cook for another minute or two.

Sloppy Baker’s Tip: Watch you skillet closely. The butter can smoke and burn easily. Turn on your ventilation fan and lower the heat as needed.

Remove the naan from the skillet and repeat until all 12 naan are cooked.

SERVE WARM AND ENJOY

We ate our naan with a chicken cauliflower coconut curry and jasmine rice. It’s a perfect tool for scooping and eating curry. Tear and eat.

Curry and naan.
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