Monday, January 23, 2012

Caleb enjoying a piece of the gigantic gingerbread man he made at a birthday party.

Breakfast of champions. Caleb enjoying a piece of the gigantic gingerbread man he made at a birthday party.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Mommy, Daddy. You're my friends. I love you."

"Mommy, Daddy. You're my friends. I love you."

I got a haircut? Inconceivable!

I got a haircut? Inconceivable!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Iranian Naan

Persian / Iranian Naan

During this past holiday season a friend asked me to bake Iranian style Naan. This is something she enjoys but has difficulty finding. Iranian Naan, as described by her, is thinner and crispier than the naan Americans are likely to find in Indian restaurants or the supermarket.  Being inclined towards experimentation I took this as a worthy challenge. She made it easy though by providing me with a recipe that even included pictures of how the naan should look at each step. The recipe she found was Persian Naan: Easy Flatbreads at plant-powered.com.

There was just one problem with the recipe, it required a bread maker. Fortunately it was pretty easy for me to gauge what needed to change, and given my friend's review of the results I apparently got it right. Below is my modified recipe for those who don't have a bread maker. I made a few other adjustments, chiefly in the size of the dough pieces you're working with. I found dividing the dough into the 4 pieces recommended by plant-powered.com resulted in a piece of naan that, thinned to the right thickness, draped over the edges of my pizza stone.

Shaping Notes

The key to getting the naan nice and crispy is to pound it thin and punch it even thinner with your finger tips. Experienced bread makers will have the instinct to flour their hands while working the bread. This is not what you want to do with this dough. You want to keep your fingertips damp. I dipped them in a bowl of water while pounding the naan with my fingertips. You want to see knuckle marks and finger holes in the finished product. Try stretching it over your knuckles. If you don't make it thin enough you get fluffy Indian Naan. If you make it too thin you get crackers. Both are still tasty. Check out the article Persian Naan: Easy Flatbreads for pictures of each step of the kneading process.

I baked the naan on a pizza stone that had been in the oven while it came up to temperature. A cast iron skillet or even a non-stick cookie sheet will work as well. If desperate you can even use the cardboard from a frozen pizza. This bread is too thin to put directly on the metal rack of the oven.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups warm water. A bit cooler than you. 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 to 32 degrees Celsius
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 to 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast  or 3 teaspoons of instant yeast
Directions (Can be done with a stand mixer with a dough hook):
  1. Combine the yeast in a large bowl with the warm water. Let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes to hydrate.
  2. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and the salt. Mix with a spoon or spatula.
  3. Add the rest of the whole wheat flour and stir until well blended.
  4. Add bread flour until it's difficult to stir by hand.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead in bread flour until the dough is no longer tacky and is fairly smooth.
  6. Put the bowl in a warm place under a damp towel until doubled. About 2 to 3 hours.
  7. Put the pizza stone or cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius)
  8. Punch the dough to deflate it. Turn it out onto a floured surface and divide it into baseball or cricket ball sized pieces. You should get 6 to 8 pieces out of the recipe. 
  9. Take each piece and flatten it. Stretch it over your knuckles. Drape it onto a floured surface and, with damp fingers, pat it with your fingertips to make it even flatter. You want a few holes here and there. You want to leave your finger prints. Check out the article Persian Naan: Easy Flatbreads for pictures of each step of the kneading process. The end result will be irregularly shaped, roughly 6 inches by 18 inches or 15 by 40 centimeters. Getting it nice and thin is mre important than the surface area.
  10. Place the dough on the pizza stone (or whatever you're using) in the oven.
  11. Bake for 9 minutes. Prepare the next piece of dough while you're waiting.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. You can wrap the naan in a towel before serving.


Serving ideas:
  • Use to scoop up lentil puree.
  • Cover with jam or jelly and eat as breakfast.
  • Dip in stew to soak up broth.
  • Toast and serve with a bit of butter.

Variations:


  • Omit the whole wheat flour and replace it with all purpose or bread flour.
  • Use 5 to 6 cups of all purpose flour instead of the other flours. 
  • Replace the whole wheat flour with rye flour.
  • Dust the naan with toasted sesame seeds just before baking.
  • Dust the naan with a cinnamon and sugar blend for a sweet breakfast treat.