Recipe by Sarah Phillips and Kelly Hong; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2010 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Naan is a flat, leavened bread of northwest India, made of white flour and baked in a tandoor, but can also be made in your oven at home. This bread is great to have with meals or as a way to scoop up dips of all kinds.
It's soft and buttery and really delicious.
BREAD RECIPE HELP
When dividing your bread dough into equal pieces, I like to use a scale and weigh my dough; it helps me obtain evenly sized pieces. If a piece of dough weighs too much, cut off the excess piece straight down with the bench scraper rather than tearing it off.
When adding a small piece of dough to a larger portion dough to make it the right weight, just press the new piece onto the larger piece; do not knead the two pieces together.
2 cups warm water (about 100 degrees); divided
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour (more or less, as needed)
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil for the bowl
STEP I: MAKE THE NAAN DOUGH
Dissolve the yeast:
1. Put 1/2 cup of the warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on its surface.
Let it dissolve a few seconds and stir in the yeast. Set it aside for 10 minutes to proof.
Prepare the dough:
1. Heat the milk in a small pan, or in the microwave, till it is slightly warm, about 100 degrees F.
2. Pour the remaining warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Have the dough hook in place.
3. Add the warm milk to the bowl.
4. Add the dissolved yeast/water mixture.
5. With the mixer on low, stir to combine.
6. Add 2 cups of the flour, and mix on low speed till the mixture is smooth.
7. When mixture is smooth, mix in the salt.
8. Stir in three more cups of flour, then turn the mixer up to medium and knead the dough in the mixer.
Add additional four, a little at a time, till you have a soft dough, that starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead the dough:
1. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle additional flour on top of the dough mass, so it does not stick to your hands.
2. Knead the dough until it is smooth, about 4-5 minutes, only adding enough flour to keep it from sticking. The dough should NOT be stiff!
Let the dough rise:
1. Place dough in a LARGE, clean, lightly oiled bowl.
2. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it so the top of the dough is oiled as well.
3. Oil a piece of plastic wrap and place it over the bowl.
4. Set the bowl in a COOL place and let it rise for 4 to 5 hours. You want the dough to rise slowly, to develop the flavor.
If you wish, after the first rise, you can punch down the dough, place it in a plastic bag, and refrigerate it overnight. In the morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and then shape the naan.
This is what the dough looks like after it is fully risen.
STEP II: SHAPE THE NAAN BREAD
1. An hour before you want to bake the nann, place a large baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Shape the dough into balls:
1. Lightly flour your work surface.
2. Then, GENTLY turn out the dough from the bowl, and place it on the counter.
3. Cut the dough in half with a bench scraper. Make sure you cut straight down and do not tear at the dough.
Then, cover 1/2 of it with a bowl, so it does not dry out.
4. Cutting straight down with the bench scraper, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.
5. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball by pinching the sides under the dough, and then rolling it in your hands.
SARAH SAYS: You can freeze the dough balls at this point..
6. Lightly flour the back of your work surface and place the finished balls of dough there.
Brush each of the 6 balls of dough with melted butter and then cover them loosely with plastic and let them rest for 20 minutes.
7. When the 20 minutes is almost up, repeat the forming process with the other 1/2 of the dough.
You will then have 12 balls of dough.
Make sure they are covered with a loose covering of plastic wrap.
Final shaping - Flatten the ball shapes:
KELLY SAYS: I give a final shaping to two balls of dough at a time, because I can only fit that amount on my pizza stone to bake.
I keep everything else covered under a loose covering of plastic wrap.
1. Select one ball of dough from the first group of six you created.
2. Press it into a rough circle with your fingertips. DO NOT TURN THE BALL OVER.
3. Set the circle of dough aside, and repeat, with a second ball of dough.
4. Return to the first circle of dough and roll it out, with a rolling pin into an oval, about 8 x 6-inches.
You may also stretch the dough by draping it over the back of your hands, and pulling gently.
5. When the two ovals are formed, place them on the counter and lightly dimple them with your fingertips.
This will keep them from forming a pocket, like a pita bread. Do not poke all the way through the dough.
SARAH SAYS: Or, you can freeze the dough at this step.
STEP III: BAKE THE NAAN BREAD AND SERVE
1. Drape the two shaped dough ovals over your forearm and quickly place them on the preheated pizza stone.
2. Bake the naan for about 6 to 7 minutes.
The tops will still be fairly light in color, with a few golden spots, and the bottoms will be golden brown.
MEANWHILE: Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave at 50% power. Set aside.
3. Remove the naan from the oven with a long handled spatula or a pair of tongs and place them on the heatproof surface.
4. Immediately brush them with melted butter and cover them with a clean kitchen towel, to steam.
Continue forming, baking, buttering and steaming till all the naan are baked.
Serve the naan warm. If you wish, you may sprinkle the finished naan with herbs, like parsley or rosemary, or sesame seeds.
A sprinkling of coarse salt tastes great, too.
If you do not plan on eating them immediately, place the cooled naan in a resealable plastic bag .
Before you serve them, warm them in a 300 degree F oven, wrapped in foil, for best flavor.
Freezing the dough for about a month or more:
You can freeze the rolled dough balls after, STEP II: SHAPE THE NAAN BREAD, #5, can be frozen for a month.
Let thaw SLIGHTLY at room temperature. Brush each of the balls of dough with melted butter and then cover them loosely with plastic and let them rest for 20 minutes.
Go to Final shaping - Flatten the ball shapes.
Or, you can freeze the shaped naan dough after this step:
STEP II: SHAPE THE NAAN BREAD, Final shaping - Flatten the ball shapes, Step 5.
Let thaw slightly, covered loosely with plastic, at room temperature until slightly pliable - about 15 minutes.
Then, bake right from a semi-frozen state.