My hands have made a great deal of bread. They kneaded a variety of flour, rolled various pastry dough, and smelled disgustingly sour from starter. But they’ve never encountered a situation like today, being in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the amazing things about being in France during this time is this: boulangerie are considered essential thus remain open.
Yes the French know about good food and wine. About spending an evening eating slowly and conversing with friends and family. They know the importance of bread and take it very seriously.
Good bread enamors me and living in Bordeaux makes it easy to explore. Baguettes are everywhere in France although I’m not your standard baguette gal unless it’s a Baguette “complet” from La P’tite Boulangerie Notre-Dame. This Baguette excites me. And remember, tear a piece off do not cut into your personal baguette!
To stand next to the entrance of a boulangerie waiting for the current customer to make her or his decision is no problem. Taking in the amazing aromas of bread. Really no problem at all, I can wait. (Now days only a person or two can enter at one time so as to keep a safe distance.)
The earthiness and bready-yeasty notes, the sweet woody smells wrapped in minimally sweet caramel. And that smell of fermentation, preferment bubbling away somewhere in back.
Crust is special in it’s own way. My favorite is when blistered and rugged, almost burnished while the bread moist and chewy inside. These crust smell of old ovens, of just finished campfire toast in the mountains.
Bread aromas haven’t swirled through my house in almost five years until today. I thank Robin, well really her husband Michael, from Crushed Grape Chronicles for the kick in the butt. He made gorgeous flatbread that I could almost taste without taking a bite. Today, I pulled out the flour, made sure the yeast wasn’t expired and let my hands once again make bread.
I choose Naan. I didn’t have a purpose, like eating it with Dah, Tikka Masala, or a Hummus. Or slanting it towards Italian Piadine. No I just wanted to make and enjoy fresh Naan, the details would come later.
Flatbread, pita and tortillas yes, but I hadn’t made Naan. I found three, preferred recipes and combined elements of each. In the end, I confidently share this recipe is a super easy and tasty.
You can add anything to the dough, minced garlic for example, herbs, or nigella seeds if you can find them. They have a garlicky flavor. I’ve got chopped nuts and softly dried prunes up my sleeve for the next batch.
Mixing, kneading, rising, portioning, rolling small pieces out is the way I spent my afternoon after reading about the latest casualties. There’s something soothing about bread and dough. If you like bread too, my hope is this recipe will take your mind away and give you comfort!
On a side note, this Château La Baronne, Pièce de Roche 2014, 100% Carignan was a gorgeous wine, by itself then with the naan and accompaniments. The earthy characteristics in all components melded together creating a tasting bliss!
- 3 cups / 375 grams – flour (I used T-85, the equivalent of light whole wheat in the States. Unbleached white would be fine too.)
- 1 teaspoon / 4 grams - sugar (I used coconut sugar because it was the closest ☺
- ½ teaspoon / 2 grams - baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons / 7 grams - yeast ( instant / dry )
- ½ cup / 60 ml / 2 fl oz - warm water (about 105°F / 40C- once you put it into the bowl to add the yeast, it will cool slightly)
- 2 tablespoons / 26 grams – olive oil, or ghee or butter (melted) I used olive oil
- ¾ cup / 184 grams – plain yogurt (Note this conversion is for yogurt! I used a thicker style.)
- Mix the first three ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder) in a bowl, set aside
- Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, stir to mix, let sit five minutes.
- Add the oil to the yeast/water.
- Add the flour mixture to the yeast water, stir slightly then add the yogurt. Mix with a spoon until all ingredients are almost incorporated. If it seems too dry, drizzle a tablespoon of luke warm water over the top and stir minimally.
- Turn the bowl over onto a floured counter top and knead the dough until it all comes together, just a minute or two. It might be sticky, that’s OK, put a little flour on your hands.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise. This will take two to three hours, depending on the temperature. I set mine inside with the sun shining on it.
- Push the dough down and portion out into pieces the size of a medium sized lemon. Use a little flour to keep them from sticking.
- Heat a cast-iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat with about a teaspoon of oil (I use avocado oil as it has a high heat point.)
- Immediately roll a dough ball out to about ⅓-inch thickness. Place in the skillet and cook for about one minute. You’ll see bubbles forming as the dough cooks on the first side. Flip and cook side two about one minute. You want the dough lightly to nicely browned. Remove to a plate and brush the top lightly with ghee or butter.
- While the first dough cooks, roll out the next piece so you can put it in the pan immediately after you remove the first piece. Continue until all are cooked.
Sprinkling minced Italian parsley and mint on top of a cooked naan immediately after you brush it with ghee is also nice. Then just keep stacking the naan and repeating until all are cooked.