Monday, January 7, 2013

Homemade Naan Bread in a Skillet

I have a confession, I didn't post this Naan Bread recipe for you. I'm sorry. Sure, feel free to take a look and even make it if you want. Just be warned, it's finicky and fussy, and can sometimes be downright unruly. After you make it a few times, you will get used to its bad behavior and you will grow to appreciate how wonderful it turns out. You will marvel at the fact that it tastes just like the stuff in the restaurant that is cooked in a oven that gets to about 700 degrees.
Yes, there is another Naan bread recipe on this site, and it is easy to make. I made it for years and loved it. Over time I began to realize that I didn't love it enough and started looking around for something new. About two years ago I found this recipe, and the first time I made it I nearly threw it in the trash. First it stuck to the bowl, and then it stuck to my cutting board, then to my hands. So, I threw it back in the bowl and added more flour to make it manageable. Even with all the extra flour, it turned out pretty well. So, I started tinkering with the recipe and feeling out the dough. Now, I can embrace the stickiness and work with the dough. It has taken me a while to get to this point.
So why do I post this recipe here? Like I said, it is for me. I make Indian food at least three times a month and every time I make this Naan Bread recipe I have to go in search of the magazine I originally found it in. Each time I have to remember the safe place I put it last and then hold my breath that it didn't accidentally get tossed with the recycling. I haven't been able to find this exact recipe anywhere else.
So, I am cautiously sharing it here in hopes that you will be brave enough to give it a chance. The first time you make it, feel free to add a little more flour than you normally would, it will be ok, I promise. Use a light touch and even add a little olive oil to your fingertips to reduce the stickiness. The cutting of the dough and rolling it into balls was the part I found the most difficult. Use a sharp knife and quickly cut though the dough, use a little cooking spray on your knife if you need to. Try not to touch the dough any more than you have to. When rolling the dough into balls I found it is easiest on a wood cutting board. It will look like it is going to stick like crazy, but apply a little pressure to the dough with the palm of your hand and it will eventually work its way off the board. Cold hands help. I hope these tips help, let me know how it goes, but please don't be mad at me if you find it infuriating the first time. Don't worry, you will grow to like this dough and the resulting Naan Bread. Good luck.

Homemade Naan Bread in a Skillet
adapted from Cook's Illustrated Spring Entertaining 2011

2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water, slightly warmer than room temperature
1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (something with a little tang like Nancy's)
1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons sesame and nigella seeds (optional)
4 tablespoons melted butter or ghee (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment add all ingredients through olive oil. Mix on low speed for about 4 minutes. Check dough, if it is sticking to the sides of the bowl add bread flour in 1 tablespoon increments every minute until dough no longer sticks to the sides. It may still stick a bit on the bottom. Mix for an additional two minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Turn dough onto a clean (unfloured) work surface, cut into 8 equal portions, and roll each into a ball. When rolling the dough into a ball, roll it onto the work surface applying pressure while you roll. If you try and roll it between your hands it will stick. Set balls aside and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. 
Lay one ball at a time on a very lightly floured work surface. Use a very lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into an 8 inch long oval. If you find the dough keeps springing back and won't stay rolled out, let it rest for five minutes or longer until you can roll it out fairly easily. If using the seeds, sprinkle them on lightly on the surface of the rolled out dough, then roll over them a few times so they adhere. Set aside and cover with oiled plastic wrap, or if you are a good multi-tasker, you can transfer the dough directly to the heated skillet after you roll it.
Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Working with one piece of dough at a time, gently stretch and additional inch or two. Cook until bubbles start to appear on the surface of the dough, and the underside is light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Flip the dough and gently press down with the back of a spatula. Cook until the bottom is deep, golden brown, another two minutes. Transfer bread to a cooling rack, brush lightly with butter or ghee. Repeat with remaining rolled out dough. Slice, serve immediately with your favorite Indian dish. 

10 comments:

  1. I love naan!! And, I also like trying out different versions of recipes, even if I already one that I think is perfect!

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    1. I'm glad I am in good company. I guess you don't learn if you don't try anything new.

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  2. I love naan, and I want to eat up your photo!. ;-) That is so pretty!

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  3. Love the disclaimer! I had a croquembouche recipe that I loved and lost - probably due to recycling. So sad. I think I may just give this naan a shot! Looks fantastic.

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    1. Isn't that the worst. I have several recipes like that, the dangers of moving so often I guess.

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  4. Beautiful, beautiful naan!! I have yet to try making a gluten free version of naan... I think I might need to try soon. :)

    Hugs,
    Megan

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    1. Thanks Megan. I bet a gluten-free version would be very popular. If I had to give up gluten I think I would miss flatbreads much more than regular bread.

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  5. Nicole, I love the photos - especially against the dark background (similar to the bagel shot you did). It makes the food stand out really well!

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    1. Thanks so much Louise! Taking food photos in Alaska is a constant learning curve. Just when I get used to this low moody light of January, the days start getting longer (and brighter) in February. I'm not complaining though!

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