Its no secret in my circle that I can’t bake. I can’t make cakes, I can’t make cookies, I can’t make pies. I was a straight A student in culinary school, until I took Baking and Pastry. The one B blight on my perfect summa cum laude transcript was because of my inability to bake. Try explaining that one when you are trying to get accepted into the University of Florida.
There is a mental wall for me when it comes to baking. I don’t like that if I don’t get the recipe JUST right that everything is ruined and I don’t find out for another 2 or 3 hours. No thank you. I don’t like to measure, I don’t like to be careful, and I have fleeting patience. Recipe for disaster in the baking and pastry world.
HOWEVER…I love to make naan. I know I know I know, its bread, its baking, but hear me out. Naan is forgiving. You don’t have yogurt? Thats ok, use buttermilk, use sour cream, heck use ricotta. No milk? Thats ok, use water or cream, or both. Naan doesn’t care. I forgot to add the water to the dough last week…that’s ok, I added it later and naan was A-ok.
I’m hoping that naan is my gateway bread. Maybe next year we will be talking about proof times for my sourdough. Maybe you’ll see a cake on here? Don’t get your hopes up, but maybe where there is a naan there is a way.
Adapted from Steven Raichlen for the NYTimes
- 2 1/2 Tbsp Dry Yeast (one envelope)
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 c water (1/4 c for now 3/4 c for later)
- 4 1/2 to 5 c AP Flour (Naan don’t care)
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 3 Tbsp Milk (don’t have it? that’s ok, use water or cream)
- 2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt (or buttermilk, or sour cream, or reg yogurt…maybe not the fruit on the bottom kind)
- 1 Egg (beaten)
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil + more for the bowl
- Run your tap until the water gets warm. Pull 1/4 c of water and mix in a small bowl with the yeast and sugar and let sit until foamy.
- While the yeast feeds on its sugar snack, mix all of your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I use my stand mixer for this recipe, but you can mix and knead by hand if you prefer.
- Add yeast mixture, as well as the remainder of the wet ingredients, including 3/4 c cool water and mix to incorporate.
- If kneading by hand, pour the tacky mixture onto a hard surface and knead for 10 minutes. If kneading in the stand mixer, knead for 8 minutes on medium speed with the dough hook attachment. Dough should be slightly sticky but workable. Add more flour if necessary.
- Transfer kneaded dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp dish towel and let sit for 1-1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and divide into 8 pieces and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with the damp dish towel and let sit for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 and place your pizza stone in the oven to help regulate heat. If you do not have a pizza stone, thats ok, naan doesn’t mind. It will come out a little chewier, and sometimes I like it better that way.
- Roll or stretch each dough piece by hand and place on a baking sheet 6 inches from your broiler and broil on Medium or Low. I do 2 pieces at a time and they usually take 2-4 minutes until they are bubbly and brown. Remove and transfer to a serving dish and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Depending on what you are doing with your naan you can brush some melted butter on top while they are still warm. I recommend this step because butter makes everything wonderful. If you would like to skip it, that works too.
I dip my naan in hummus, scoop up a delicious sauce with it, or sometimes sprinkle some ricotta and mozzarella on it. I melt the cheese in the oven for another minute and have a quick pizza. The possibilities are endless, and naan never minds how it’s enjoyed.