Food, Recipe

Oven-baked Naan

Because of the Indian blood that runs through my veins, I occasionally wake up craving strange things like naan bread. Or butter chicken. Or spiced lentil stew.

My naan craving hit at 9pm on a Sunday and I did not want to leave my warm, Indian-heated (30˚C+) home to trek in the snow to buy some from the Indian restaurant a half hour away. The internet is awesome, and my faith in it was validated when I found a recipe for making naan at home in an oven. NOT a tandoori oven as it typically is.

However, the recipe I found called for a heated stone (granite or marble or something) to cook the naan on. I just graduated, I live alone, I am unemployed, so obviously I do not have slabs of marble lying around the house. So I simply used my Baker’s Secret cookie sheet and this worked just fine.

This is the recipe I used. It’s actually the first result on Google if you search “how to make naan in an oven”. Thankfully it actually turned out awesome.

Okay: things I did wrong the first time around that you shouldn’t do.

  • Do not use expired yeast. Yeast lasts for a year or something so throw out your old shit and buy a new package. 
  • Do not think you can just proof the dough in the oven and hack this recipe because you are probably not a pro, but if you are, go ahead, amaze me and then tell me how you did it.
  • Do not overcook the bread. Naan bread is soft, chewy and buttery.
  • Do not attempt to just “press the dough” with your hand. This isn’t pizza. It’s naan. Buy a fucking rolling pin or use a wine/vodka/rum bottle.

You’ll want to start by making your dough because the annoying part about making bread is that it needs to rise and that isn’t a quick process. So if you’re looking up this recipe an hour before dinner, you’re better off ordering your naan on Justeat.ca, because dough that doesn’t rise will not make delicious naan. Trust me, I hate following recipes, but I learn from bad experiences.

To make your dough, you’ll need

  • A big bowl – remember your dough will rise so it needs to hold it all, once it’s gotten huge.
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (Fleishmann’s is a good brand, but any will do)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (feel free to use canola or any flavourless oil)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of plain Greek yoghurt

Add the yeast to your water and let it stand for about 10 minutes until it’s frothy. If nothing happens, your yeast has died, and I hope you have a store close by where you can pick up new yeast. While your yeast is frothing and doing it’s thang, make the other stuff.

To a bowl, add your flour, the sugar, salt, baking powder and whisk to combine. Make a little well in the middle and plop in your yoghurt and olive oil. Stir it cutely (like, with small little flicks of your wrist) till it’s sort of got this crumbly texture. Once your yeast has gotten nice and frothy, add this water to your dough and stir, and then knead with floured hands till the dough is smooth.

I have no idea how to knead, so I usually just get my sister, who is studying to be a chef, to knead the dough. Here’s a quick video on how to knead dough by hand for breads, in case you do not have a chef-to-be in the family.

Once it’s kneaded, plop the dough back into the bowl and place a damp cheesecloth, or a damp paper towel on top of the bowl. Let it sit in a warm place. Since my apartment is hot all the time, I just left it out. In 3 hours, your dough should be ready to be made into delicious pieces of flatbread you can dip, wrap, or munch within minutes.

About a half hour before you cook your dough, preheat your oven to something stupid like 500˚F, if your oven doesn’t go that high, just stick to 400˚ and if it doesn’t even go to 400˚ just make regular bread with your dough. And buy a new oven, it’s 2013.

Put your baking tray in about 15 minutes before you put your dough in. I do this because metal heats up much faster and my baking tray sort of made strange cracking sounds so I was too afraid to put it in before. When you’re ready to cook, bring the baking tray out and grease it with olive oil.

Tear off golf ball sized pieces of your dough and roll them out however you like. I did them sort of oblong because it felt authentic (ha ha) and brushed some butter and parley flakes on top. Stick it in the oven and literally let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it – it should bubble and get some spots of brown but for the most part it should just look white and soft.

I know my pictures are much browner, but that’s because I over cooked them cause I am an idiot. The next batch I made looked more like the picture in the recipe I linked, but they were so yummy I scarfed them down before I could think of taking pictures.

I WAS HANGRY, okay?

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