Monday, November 14, 2011

Garlic Naan

I am vindicated!

I have not made a yeast bread since this debacle last year. I found it much more disappointing than I acknowledged in that post. I have been reticent to use yeast again, since it takes so much time out of my day to get such a mediocre result.

When I saw this recipe in the Vegetarian Times that I got from my neighbor (thanks, Marie!), I knew I had to give it a shot. I planned a nice Indian dinner for Sunday afternoon, determined to conquer the naan. To my extreme delight (no, seriously, I was bouncing around and grinning the whole time), it went beautifully. The dough rose perfectly, was easy to roll out, and started sizzling as soon as it hit the pan. As soon as the first one was flipped, I knew we had it. It looked like naan! It looked like something you could buy at the grocery store or be served at an Indian restaurant. It was perfect - bubbly on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. If I weren't so stuffed, I'd grab another right now!

From now on, there will be no fear. I will plan to make fresh bread on a weekend. There is no reason I should not make my own pizza dough and flatbreads. I will even go back to making sandwich bread. I can do this! Although in the near future, while I still have a huge tub of plain yogurt to use up, I may be sticking with this naan!

Garlic Naan
From Vegetarian Times November 2011.

1/4 oz active dry yeast
3 1/3 c bread flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 c whole-milk yogurt, at room temperature! (I neglected to notice this direction before proofing my yeast, so we had to jump through hoops trying to warm it up a bit.)
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp garlic, minced

Stir yeast into 1/4 c warm water (105-115°F). Let stand 10 minutes.

Whisk together 3 c flour, sugar and salt. (If using a stand mixer or food processor to knead, combine these things in your machine. I preferred to do this one by hand. If not kneading by hand, include all the flour.)

Combine yogurt, 2 tbsp olive oil and 3/4 c warm water (105-115°F). Pour this mixture and yeast mixture into flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine (or use your machine!). When the dough forms a ragged ball, pour it out onto a floured surface (using that remaining 1/3 c flour) and knead until all the flour is absorbed and the dough has become a smooth ball (or use your machine). Place your kneaded dough into an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled (I used the proofing setting on my oven and it was perfect in 40 minutes or so).

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter or board. (Sorry, but in my haste to get it divided, I neglected to get a picture of the risen dough.) Divide dough into eight roughly equal pieces. Form each one into a ball, then press into a small disk. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest 10 minutes.

Combine 1 tbsp olive oil with minced garlic and let stand, so the oil begins to absorb the garlic flavor. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, until a drop of water evaporates on contact.

After the dough has rested, on a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into an 8" round.

Transfer to the piping hot skillet and cook 1-2 minutes, until the bread begins to bubble up and the bottom begins to turn golden brown (you can lift the edge with tongs to check its progress).

Flip and cook for another minute, pressing down with a spatula to deflate any big air bubbles, until black blistery patches begin to appear on the bottom (and it looks like naan!).

Transfer to a serving plate, brush with garlic-oil mixture and serve with a nice curry!

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