My family loves naan. We buy packs of it from Costco and use it when I make Indian food for dinner or the kids use it to make naan pizzas or even naan with peanut butter for lunch. Over the years, I’ve made naan a few times and it was okay, but not good enough to entice me to make it rather than buying store-bought. That was until this past winter, when I decided to try a naan recipe from my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. This naan was a game changer. This bread wasn’t as good as store bought, it was better! The trick is to have a wetter dough batter and to spray it lightly with water before putting it in a cast iron skillet. You cover the skillet while the bread cooks which keeps the bread from drying out. The recipe only calls for a 1/2 tsp of yeast so it’s an enticing recipe for me since yeast is hard to come by these days.
The original recipe calls for rapid rise yeast and an overnight rise in the fridge. I only have traditional rise yeast on hand so I’ve had to modify the method to account for that. Also, to tell the truth, even though I take great delight in planning what I am going to bake each weekend, I am terrible at planning dinners in advance and tend to only consider what to make for dinner the day of. So an overnight rise usually doesn’t work for me. I found that I can get just as good results with a long rise the day of. Since there is just a 1/2 tsp of yeast in the recipe, it does need a good 4 hours of rising, but if you have more yeast to use, you can always use 1 tsp or 1 1/2 tsp of yeast to shorten your rise time. Traditional rise yeast works best if the liquid you are mixing it with is 90-110 F so I usually heat the water in a kettle and then combine it with the rest of the cold ingredients before adding the yeast. Make sure the temperature is no higher than 110 F or you could kill the yeast. I’ve added some pictures below of some of the steps.
Soft Pillowy Naan BreadA soft, pillowy Indian flatbread that has amazing flavour and is easy to make! From the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook.
- Combine hot water, yogurt, sugar, and oil in a measuring cup or small bowl. Adding the egg yolk last to ensure it doesn’t start to cook.
- Ensure that the mixture is no warmer than 110 F then add yeast and stir.
- Let mixture sit until yeast blooms and is bubbly on the surface, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
- When yeast has bloomed, pour over flour mixture and stir to form a shaggy dough.
- Turn dough out onto counter and knead until smooth, about 6 minutes. The dough will be wet and sticky. Do not add more flour as this will make for a dryer naan. Using wet hands and a bench scraper makes the kneading process easier.
- Form into a ball and put into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 4 hours.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces.
- Shape each piece into a smooth, tight ball.
- Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart and let rest, covered, for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Transfer 1 ball to a lightly floured counter and sprinkle with flour.
- Using hand and a rolling pin, press and roll the piece into a roughly 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and counter with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Using fork, poke the entire surface of the round 20-25 times.
- Heat remaining 1 tsp of oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
- Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towel.
- Mist top of dough lightly with water.
- Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top of dough with water and cover.
- Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2-4 minutes.
- Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes longer.
- Transfer to plate and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Keep warm in oven while repeating the rolling and cooking with remaining dough balls. You may need to reduce the heat of the pan as you go to prevent burning.
Best if served immediately after all naan are cooked.
To ensure your liquid is warm enough for the yeast to thrive, heat water in a kettle and then add to cold ingredients, adding the egg last. Ensure the liquid is no warmer than 110F before adding the yeast.
After mixing the ingredients together you will have a wet, shaggy dough. Turn this out onto the counter for kneading.
The dough will be wet and sticky. This is okay. Stretch and fold the dough, rotating a 1/4 turn each time to stretch the gluten strands of the dough.
I use a bench scraper to help fold and turn the dough. Wetting your hands and the scraper help to keep the dough from sticking.
After around 6 minutes of kneading, the dough will change texture and become much smoother.
After dough has doubled in size, divide into 4 equal pieces and shape each piece into a tight, smooth ball. Let stand, covered for 15-20 minutes.
After rolling each piece of dough into an approximately 9-inch round, poke entire surface with a fork 20-25 times.
The dough is cooked when there are nice brown spots on the second side of the naan.