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Bread Challenge, Week 13: Naan

May 5, 2012

Tuesday night, I had dinner with my friends Marion and Kim, at Jose Malone’s in Troy. Obviously, a Mexican joint (they used to have Irish food on the menu, too, but Kim said they took it off.). Of course, we had Margaritas. And guacamole. I ordered a Pineapple & Goat Cheese quesadilla. It was really really tasty, but for the rest of the night I felt really really sick. And the last thing I wanted to do was write about food. And then, I’ve just been procrastinating since then. That’s why this week’s post is almost spilling into *next* week.

Anyway, the 2012 Bread Challenge continues – deterred temporarily by my convalescence from septoplasty. Sunday I made my favorite kind of bread – Indian flatbread, also called naan.

There are countless recipes for naan around, but I chose the one in the most recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Because it was handy, and I am a recipe masochist. I really need to stop using CI recipes, because I always end up making mistakes and/or modifications, for one reason or another. But those recipes look so damned good in the magazine that I can’t help myself!

This time around, there were a few ways that I deviated from the written word.

First, the recipe called for instant yeast, and I only had active dry. I made a couple modifications (proofing the yeast first, and adding it with the liquid instead of the dry ingredients), and it turned out ok. But, it’s probably best to just follow the recipe as written. There really is a difference between the various types of commercially-available yeasts.

The recipe called for whole milk yogurt (in fact, it explicitly stated “Do not use nonfat yogurt in this recipe”). But I could not find it in the grocery store! I swear I looked over every inch of that dairy case, and highest fat content yogurt they had was 2%, pineapple flavored. So, I went with nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Worked fine.

This recipe called for using a cast iron skillet to cook the naan. I do own a cast iron skillet, but I wasn’t going to use it on my new ceramic-cooktop stove (it’s not recommended; cast iron can scratch the ceramic and permanently damage the cooktop). But the recipe research concluded that using either a grill or a stone inside the oven produced inferior results. Damn you Cook’s Illustrated and your scientific method. I thought about it and thought about it, and decided that I was going to use the cast iron skillet on my cooktop anyway, and just be REALLY CAREFUL not to move it around and scratch the ceramic. And I got away with it – I didn’t scratch the ceramic. But I was in such fear the entire time that I probably will never do that again.

Overall, this recipe worked out pretty well, and I was happy with the results. With a little concentration, I could actually get it right next time.  Recipe and photos after the jump. 

*******************

Indian Flatbread (Naan)

from Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2012

  • ½ cup ice water
  • 1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Combine water, yogurt, 3 Tbsp oil, and egg yolk.

Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined. With processor running, add water mixture; process until just combined and no dry flour remains (about 10 seconds). Let dough stand for 10 minutes.  Add salt to dough and process until dough forms a satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the bowl. Transfer to floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape into ball, and place in large oiled bowl. Refrigerate 16 to 24 hours.

Divide into 4 pieces, shape each piece into smooth tight ball. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 15-20 minutes.

On lightly floured surface, shape each ball into 9-inch round, sprinkling with flour to prevent sticking. Using a fork, poke entire surface of round 20-25 times.

Poke! Poke! Poke!

Heat 1 tsp oil in cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out completely with paper towel.

Mist dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, misted side down. Mist top surface with water, cover pan with lid. Cook until bottom surface is browned in spots, 2-3 minutes. Flip naan over, and cook on second side until lightly browned, another 2-3 minutes.

Kinda looks like a pancake.

Flip naan again, and brush top with melted butter. Keep naan warm in 200 oven, on a plate or stone, while cooking the remaining dough rounds.

Serve immediately.

Results:

  • As I was typing the recipe into the post, I realized I forgot to add the vegetable oil in the first step. I really have to start paying more attention when I cook. That, and my nonfat yogurt substitution, notwithstanding, this naan turned out pretty well. It wasn’t *exactly* restaurant quality naan, but that’s to be expected. I don’t have a tandoor in my kitchen, and I bet you don’t either.
  • My yeast modification: I used 1 tsp of active dry yeast, and proofed it with ½ cup warm water and a pinch of sugar. I then added the egg yolk and yogurt, and proceeded with the recipe. It seemed to work okay. Maybe I’ll try this recipe again sometime, and actually follow the instructions. But I say that a lot.
  • Interested in seeing exactly how this is made? Cook’s Illustrated has video of it on their website, access to which is free for 4 months. I’ve also shared a slideshow of my preparation below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2012 12:05 pm

    Looks good! Thanks for the recipe, will be trying it myself.

  2. May 10, 2012 5:14 am

    Looks yummy, Wendy. My girls went to a Montessori pre-k and one of their teachers was Indian so they’d make chapatis for Diwali which was fun but these look tastier.

    I still want to try your pita recipe though.

  3. February 5, 2014 1:42 pm

    I made this naan and it turned out exactly what I would’ve gotten at an Indian restaurant…very tasty. Now I can always make my own whenever I want.

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