Dish 22: Naan


Contents

Intro

In an effort to make my life easy with cooking this weeks dish the weekend after Thanksgiving, I decided to make naan this weekend. While this is a dish I intend to make many times going forward, I chose a basic, plain naan to make. Like many previous recipes, this one comes from Cooks Illustrated.

Prepping the Dish

Yeast, flour and sugar were pulsed in a food processor. To that, a mixture of yogurt, oil, an egg yolk, and water was slowly drizzled into a now-running food processor. The recipe said to do this until everything just came together, about 10 seconds. I was using the small liquid feeder of the food processor, and the thickness of the liquid meant it took a lot longer than 10 seconds for everything to come together. Next time, Ill use the bigger feeder tube (and give myself one less thing to clean in the process!).

Out of the food processor, it kneeds some more flour

After everything was processed and sat in the bowl for 10 minutes, I kneeded it and placed it in an uncovered bowl to proof. Since its cold in The Quincy Kitchen, Katie advised me to turn the oven onto the lowest heat, let it warm up, turn the heat off, then place the bowl and bread in there with the oven door ajar to help that initial proof.

Proofed and ready

With that done, the dough was folded a few times and covered for half an hour three times. The trio of half hour proofs enabled me to put away my landry and watch some football, as well as wash all of the prep cookware Id used.

For good measure, the final step of the prep was to divide the dough into quarters, turn those quarters into tight dough balls, and you guessed it, let them rest for about 20 minutes.

Cooking the Dish

After lots of resting, it was time to heat up the cast iron and get cookin. The cooking process was quick, but not hectic. Id say the thickness of each disk is the most important factor to be aware of; the diameter of the disk or number of fork pokes in it dont matter as much. Another word of advice: when you mist the dough in the cast iron, be sure to not have your head over the skillet when you do this because the water turns to steam when it contacts the iron.

To my pleasant surprise, from the first flip of the first disk, I could see the naan clearly developing. Speaking of those flips, the structure of the dough makes it easy to flip as its easy enough to flip and move into the oven to stay warm without worrying about it falling apart.

Naanthing not to like about how that looks

Overall Impressions

First bite and Katie and I agreed: It was good! Well-cooked, with a little char on all sides, it definitely looked the part. The one thing we both agreed on was it tasted dense. Given that its dough and winter time in Quincy, there are probably a few environmental factors at play that contributed to this density. To that end, Katie wondered how it would be different in the summertime. If the next time I make this ends up being while its still cold out, Ill better adapt this dish to the weather.

Final Word

While this dish take a few hours from start to finish, 80 percent of that is both inactive time, and take place in the prep. Things move quick once you start cooking, but not quick enough that you cant grab a glass of water. Given how much proofing takes place and how that process is greatly influenced by environmental factors specific to your kitchen, your final product may differ from what I ended up with. That said, my naan was on the dense side, but definitely good. Next time, Ill tweak some of the steps in the prep to better suit the environmental conditions in my kitchen. The other thing Ill do: serve it with Indian food instead of soup!


Naan

Time: 30 minutes (plus ~2:30 prep) Yields: 4

Ingredients

  • cup ice water
  • cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. In measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for total of three 30-minute rises.
  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20 to 25 times. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (If naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate.) Flip naan, brush top with about 1 teaspoon melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately.