Oasis Naan {TWD-BWJ}

I am so pleased to be hosting this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Julia recipe! This was a particularly good pick for me, as I love naan but had never made it myself. I’ve had several recipes bookmarked to try at some point, but never quite got as far at making them. So hosting this week finally gave me the push I needed to try my hand at baking naan. And, boy, am I glad it did!

This recipe begins with a batch of Persian Naan dough (recipe below), which was a breeze to throw together. I began by measuring tepid water into my mixing bowl, then sprinkling yeast on top.

The recipe calls for active dry yeast. Since I always use instant yeast, I turned to my handy yeast conversion table and saw that I would need 0.75 teaspoon of instant yeast for every teaspoon of active dry yeast in the recipe. Since the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons active dry yeast, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast. I stirred the yeast into the water, then added 3 cups of flour, one at a time, using my dough whisk.

At this point, I put the bowl on the stand mixer and began using the dough hook to mix in the salt and remaining flour.

After mixing in 6 cups of flour, the dough was still quite sticky, so I added more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it stopped clinging to the sides of the bowl.

It took an additional 7 tablespoons of flour to get the dough to the point where it was tacky but not sticky. The recipe said to knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. I mixed it on medium-low speed with my stand mixer for about 7 minutes.

I put the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turned it to coat both sides with oil, then set it aside to rise for 2 hours.

After 2 hours the dough had more than doubled in size, which I expected given the amount of yeast in the recipe.

About 15 minutes before the dough reached the 2 hour mark, I put my unglazed clay tiles on the oven rack and began preheating the oven to 500°F. It takes both the oven and the tiles longer than you might think to reach such a high temperature (don’t trust the “oven ready” beeper), and I wanted my tiles to be smoking hot by the time I was ready to begin baking.

While the oven was preheating and the dough finishing its rise, I chopped 2 scallions and got out some coarse sea salt and cumin seeds.

To shape the naan, I divide the dough into 8 pieces. Normally, I scale dough when dividing it. But naan is a rustic bread, so I didn’t really care if the pieces weren’t exactly the same size.

I preshaped each piece of dough into a ball and flattened slightly. Then, working with one dough ball at a time, I rolled the dough into a 6-inch circle, which I sprinkled with water and docked with a fork.

I moved the dough to a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal, then rolled out a second dough ball. Once I had two naan on the peel, I sprinkled them with salt, green onion, and cumin seeds.

I loaded the dough into the oven and began preparing the next two dough balls. I baked the naan for about 8 minutes, until they were well puffed and the scallions began to take on some color.

The naan baked up puffier than what I’m used to getting at an Indian restaurant. But it was delicious — better than any restaurant or store-bought naan I’ve ever tried. The bread was soft and chewy, and the cumin and scallions gave it a deep, subtle flavor that definitely reminded me of the best Indian dishes I’ve had.

And speaking of Indian food, I served the naan with homemade butter chicken — a perfect pairing.

If you love naan but have never made it yourself, give this recipe a try. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. You may never buy naan again.

Persian Naan Dough (from Baking with Julia; recipe by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid). Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tepid water (80°F to 90°F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast [or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast]
  • 5 to 6 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon [Kosher] salt

Directions

  1. Put the water and yeast in a large bowl and stir to blend. Add 3 cups of the flour, about a cup at a time, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon [or dough whisk]. Beat for 1 minute, or about 100 strokes, to develop the gluten.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the mixture and start adding the remaining flour, again about a cup at a time, stirring after each addition and then stirring until the dough is too stiff for you to work. You may not need to use it all.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it vigorously, adding more flour as necessary, until it is smooth and easy to handle, about 10 minutes. [Or mix with stand mixer on medium-low speed with dough hook for about 7 minutes, adding flour as necessary until dough does not cling to sides or bottom of bowl.]
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to cover the entire surface with oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it has more than doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Don’t worry if it goes longer — it will be just fine. If it’s more convenient, you can put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the dough rise overnight; bring the dough to room temperature before continuing.

Oasis Naan (from Baking with Julia; recipe by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid). Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Persian Naan dough, fully risen
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped (white and tender green parts only)
  • 1 teaspoon (approximately) cumin or caraway seeds

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and line with quarry tiles or a baking stone, leaving a 1-inch air space all around. (If you do not have tiles or a stone, place an inverted baking sheet on the oven rack.) Preheat the oven to 500°F. Set aside a baker’s peel or dust a baking sheet with flour.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball; flatten each ball with lightly floured palms. Roll out the dough into circles about 1/4 inch thick and 5 to 6 inches across and sprinkle with water.
  3. Each circle needs to be well pricked all over, with the exception of a 1- to 2-inch border. Traditionally, this is done with a dough stamp, a round utensil with concentric circles of thin spikes. Alternatively, you can use a roller pricker (also known as a pastry docker), the tines of a fork, or the pointy metal loop at the bottom of a whisk. Whatever you choose, you want to prick the dough with determination, flattening the center of each circle.
  4. Sprinkle each center with coarse salt, chopped scallions, and a pinch of cumin or caraway seeds.
  5. Slide the breads onto the hot quarry tiles using the baker’s peel (or slide onto the baking sheet), and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops start to color.
  6. Remove the breads and cool on a rack for about 5 minutes before wrapping them in a cotton towel. These are best served warm.
  7. The breads are best eaten shortly after they’re baked, but they’ll keep, wrapped in a towel, for a day. For longer storage, wrap the [fully cooled] breads airtight and freeze for up to a month. Keep the breads in their wrappers while they thaw at room temperature, and then warm them for a few minutes in a 400°F oven before serving.
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Persian Naan {BWJ}

The first June recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie is Oasis Naan. I was lucky enough to be picked to host this recipe, so I’ll be posting the full recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions next week.

The Oasis Naan begins with a batch of Persian Naan dough, and since I had to make the dough anyway, I decided to make some Persian and some Oasis Naan. Check out the Oasis Naan post for the recipe and instructions for making the dough.

After mixing the dough and letting it rise, I got my oven ready. Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven called a “tandoor”. The best way to replicate this in a home oven is with a baking stone or clay tiles.

I picked up these unglazed clay tiles for about 50 cents each at a French bread baking class I took a few years ago. They are great for baking crusty artisan breads. And because they are individual tiles, they are easy to get in and out of the oven, store, and (if you buy extras like I did) replace if you break one. I set the oven to 500°F and let it preheat while I shaped the naan.

I deflated the dough and divided it into four pieces.

I preshaped each piece into an oval, then let them rest while the oven finished preheating. This allowed the gluten to relax and made them easier to shape.

In the meantime, I prepared a small bowl of water and got out some black sesame seeds.

Once the dough had relaxed a bit and the oven was good and hot, I began shaping the naan. I made one at a time. First, I pressed the dough out with wet fingertips. I dipped my hands in water every few seconds to get the dough good and wet.

Next, I gently lifted the dough over my hands and stretched it out. Finally, I sprinkled the naan liberally with black sesame seeds.

I lifted the naan off the work surface and gently moved it to the oven. It only took about five minutes to bake, since the oven and tiles were so hot.

As you can see, my naan came out kind of funny shaped. I had stretched it too long and had to make it fit on the tiles. Hence, the shmoo-shaped naan. This was fine, as naan is a rustic bread that is served by placing the whole piece in the center of the table and letting everyone tear off hunks to eat.

The naan was delicious. Light, crisp, and just a little bit yeasty. The thinner parts were almost like a cracker, while the thicker sections were soft and pillowy.

I served the Persian naan with butter chicken for a delicious and satisfying dinner.

This recipe was fun to make and wonderful to eat. Definitely a repeat.

Crisp Cornmeal Flatbread {ModBak}

The fifth recipe in the Breads section of The Modern Baker, and the last in a series of flatbreads, is Crisp Cornmeal Flatbread. This bread is actually what I would consider a cracker rather than a flatbread. When I think of flatbread, I think of pita bread, naan, tortillas, and the like. But that was OK with me, because I was a little flatbreaded out at this point.

I was looking forward to these crackers, as they had some interesting ingredients that I thought would lead to great flavor. One of the ingredients was cornmeal. As it happened, I had just visited the farmer’s market and picked up some red cornmeal, so I decided to use it in this recipe.

The other ingredient that we haven’t seen thus far in the book was cayenne pepper. And even though the recipe only called for 1/4 teaspoon, I knew a little would go a long way, especially in crackers.

I began by mixing the ingredients in the food processor, then setting the dough aside to rise.

After the dough had risen, I divided it into two piece, which I then rolled out to make the crackers. The directions say to roll the dough to the size of the pan on the work surface, then transfer it to the pan. I decided to bake my crackers on Silpat, so I rolled each half on the Silpat, then lifted it onto the pan.

I rolled the dough out to the edges of the Silpat, then trimmed the overlapping bits.

I was left with a very thin dough that almost completely covered the baking surface.

I baked the flatbreads in a 350° F oven for about 20 minutes, until they were golden brown and crisp.

They came out beautifully. The cornmeal gave a nice color and nutty flavor, and the crackers were crunchy with just a bit of heat from the cayenne. And talk about flat….

I broke the bread into irregular pieces and put them in a bowl. It looked great; unfortunately, we ate them all before I had a chance to take a picture.

This recipe is right up there with the pita bread as my favorite of the flatbreads. Definitely one to make again.