Naaaaaan

How much yeast is in this recipe?

Naan.

naan

Naan: the Indian flatbread with an attitude.

Naan is an Indian flatbread. You probably knew that though. It seems intimidating to the layperson with no handy tandoor to cook it in, but rest assured. This is a super simple recipe and is also tasty.

While you are making this bread, I recommend listening to the Beatles song about naan. You know, the one that goes “Naan, naan naan naan naan naan naan. Naan naan naan naan. Hey Jude.”

Ingredients:

4 c flour
2 c plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder.

Throw all the ingredients together in a great big bowl. Make sure to throw them with conviction. If you splatter some yogurt on the wall, that’s an acceptable risk. Once thrown, mix them with your hands a lot, in a process called kneading.

Preheat the oven to broil, and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat a heavy pan on the stove on a medium-high flame.

Cut up the naan-dough into about 10 pieces. Flatten each one so that it’s no more than a quarter inch thick, and if it’s even that’s a plus. Rolling pins might help there. Use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking.

Put the flatbreads one at a time on the hot pan until they start to blacken on the bottom. They won’t puff up quite as much as you want, which is why you then transfer them to the oven to puff up. Once they do that second thing, apply melted butter liberally and commence noms.

& Pretzels, New Job

Two bits of news!

The first exciting thing is that I have a job, as a baker. Next week I start work at Great Harvest in Rockville. That means getting up an hour before the buttcrack of dawn to do the whole professional baker thing. Yikes!

The second bit of news includes a recipe, since that’s what this blog is here for. Way back in early May or late April, my friend Molly and I made a whole big bunch of pretzels shaped like ampersands (the & symbol), each in its own typeset Why, you ask? Clearly, because we’re more awesome than you. After much coaxing from me, she finally posted the pictures on her blog.

The photos and a lot of the shapes were done by Molly, and the fonts belong to their respective designers.

Mall-style Soft Pretzels

Ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c warm water
4 c all purpose flour
2 c water with 2 tbsp of baking soda suspended in it
2 tbsp butter, melted
kosher salt, for sprinkling

Preparation:

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water. Add that to the flour and salt, then knead well. This should take about ten minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450˚F.

Cut the dough into a dozen (roughly) equal pieces. Pencil roll each of them until it is around 3 feet long, and no more than half an inch thick. Twist into an ampersand shape of your favorite font. We liked Garamond Italic, among others.

Dip the pretzels in the baking soda suspension and place them on the counter to proof for about 15 minutes. Transfer them onto a baking sheet with parchment paper (note: NOT waxed paper. As we learned, these things are different) and bake for 10-12 minutes.

After you take the pretzels out, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle on the coarse salt. Eat them, or make signs with them.

This post submitted to this week’s Yeastspotting, and to Tastespotting.

Angel Food Cake

Contrary to the popular misconception, the angel cake does not contain any supernatural beings whatever. Nor is it eaten by angels. The reason it is called an angel food cake is because several million years ago, when the cake was first discovered by the ancient Celts, they believed the cake was sent to them by an angel for something to munch on.

The question of when exactly we got the recipe from the angels has been lost to history, but here it is in all its glory:

Ingredients
1 1/4 c egg whites (about 10 large eggs’ worth)
1 1/4 c granulates sugar
1 c cake flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

Sift the sugar. Twice.

Sift the flour. Put a quarter cup of sugar and the salt in with the flour. Sift three times.

Beat the eggs on a low speed until they start to get foamy. Add the cream of tartar (not tartar sauce, that would be bad). Gradually increase the speed on your electric mixer until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Add the vanilla and almond extract, and slowly add the rest of the sugar, one tbsp at a time. You may now set aside your mixer. Fold in the flour and sugar mixture a quarter cup at a time. The idea is to mix it in without popping all the little egg bubbles (if you don’t know how to do this ask your mother).

Pour the cake batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan (it’s the one with the straight sides and the hole in the middle). Put it in your oven on the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes. If you don’t have a timer, a chorus of angels will come down and tell you when to take it out of your oven.

To cool the cake, turn the pan upside down and suspend it on an upturned funnel or a soda bottle. After it cools completely, you can turn it back around and remove the cake from the pan.

Serve with fruit or chocolate or something.

Molasses Rye Bread

Three moles are crawling through a tunnel. The first mole says, “Hmm. I smell cookies.” The second says, “Yeah, I smell them too!” The third mole wrinkles his nose and says, “Not me, I just smell moleasses.”

Not a fan of rye bread? You’ll like this anyway. This is moist and sweet and dark, but still perfectly compliments a pastrami and swiss sandwich with a judicious amount of mustard. It will not last long in your house.

Ingredients:
4 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 c water
2/3 c molasses
4c bread flour
3c rye flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 tbsp caraway (at least!)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add in the water, molasses and vegetable oil. Mix together until just combined, then let it sit for 20 minutes. Knead for 5-10 minutes, and expect extreme stickiness since rye doesn’t do the whole gluten thing. Place in a greased bowl and leave in a warm place until it has doubled.

Preheat the oven and baking stone to 450˚F. Once doubled, turn the dough out onto the counter. Divide in two, shape attractively (a little lingerie goes a long way) and let sit for another 20 minutes to get used to its new sexy form. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Eat.

This post submitted to this week’s YeastSpotting

Sourdough bâtards

Another super successful sourdough, courtesy of Mr. Bubbly. This’un has a bit of whole wheat, but is mostly just bread flour. I also made it pointy. Because crunchy points are great.

Ingredients:
565g bread flour
75g whole wheat flour
375g water
225g ripe 100% hydration starter
15g salt

First take your freshly ripened starter (when it’s been fed and has doubled) and put it the requisite amount in a large bowl. Add the flour, and water, and mix well. Allow it to sit for a half hour to autolyze, then add the salt and knead to a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about five minutes. Put aside to rise until doubled in a warm place.

When the dough is doubled, divide it in half and shape into bâtards, or whatever shape you prefer. Put the loaves on a floured baking linen and allow to proof for another couple hours.

Preheat you oven and baking stone to 450˚F. Slide your loaves onto the baking stone, and cook for 35 minutes, depending on shape.

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

These cinnamon buns are way too tasty to even deal with rationally. The dough is incredibly soft and pillowy. The filling and icing have cinnamon and butter coming out of places we’re not even going to talk about. What’s the catch? It takes a whopping 36 hours to make. Yeeesh. If you want them ready for breakfast, start in the evening two days before you want to eat them.

Levain:
150g 100% hydration sourdough starter, just after it has doubled
340g Water
340g AP flour

Mix that up real good, and let it sit in a warm place overnight. Twelve hours, or until doubled. While that’s going down, wash, peel, dice, and boil one medium-largeish potato. Any will do, but a good mashed potato variety like Yukon Gold is ideal.

Dough:
1 stick butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
130g mashed potatoes
195g buttermilk
all the levain
700g AP flour
21g salt

In a bowl, cream the butter, then mix in the eggs, honey, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add the potatoes, buttermilk, and all the levain. Stir until smooth. Add the flour and salt, then knead until gluten starts to develop. The dough will be quite moist, but should be workable because of all the butter. Set that in a cool place and ask it to rise until doubled for about 8-12 hours. If it doesn’t want to, threaten to take away its toys. That’ll teach it.

While that’s rising, make the filling. To do that, take

1 stick butter
85g cream
300g dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

and place them in a pot on the stove. See if you can get them to do their Great American Melting Pot impression.

Once the dough is done doing its thang, divide it into two pieces. Label them Piece One and Piece Two with edible marker. This step is very important, don’t skip it. Roll Piece One into a large square on a very well floured counter top. Paint on a generous amount of the filling, and roll it up into a log. Cut up the log into 6 pieces and put the pieces in a baking pan. Do the same thing with Piece Two (here is where the labeling is handy). Put the baking pan in the fridge to double overnight.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 400˚F. Pop the buns right into the oven from the refrigerator, and cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on how thick you made them. When they’re done, drizzle on the extra filling. Eat.

If you’re interested in making these and don’t have a sourdough starter, email me for help in converting this to packaged yeast.

Not So Humble Pie

I found a fantastic blog (courtesy of my sister Rosie) today. It contains the following comic about raising yeasty-beasties:

http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com/2010/04/trauma-of-raising-yeast.html