Naan For A Dinner Party

We were recently invited to a dinner party that involved dishes from a variety of cultures and places, sort of focused on North Africa and the Fertile Crescent. We brought naan. Pictured is a triple recipe to generously serve ten people:

The white girl kitty inspecting the naan.

I’ve made naan or naan-like things a number of times and basically winged it with decent-to-good results. This bake was for a discerning crowd so I wanted to use an actual recipe as a starting point to help ensure things didn’t go too far off the rails.

Ultimately I chose between Kenji’s Grilled Naan recipe on Serious Eats and a King Arthur website recipe. Kenji’s recipe calls for using an outdoor grill, so I mostly went with the King Arthur recipe because we were cooking on a grill pan instead of live fire. I used Kenji’s recommendation of bread flour instead of a mix of flours.

First, the King Arthur formula as written:

180g King Arthur AP Flour, 90g King Arthur Bread Flour, 142g warm water, 71g Full-Fat Greek Yogurt, 28g melted ghee or butter, 1-1/2 teaspoons Active Instant Dry Yeast, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt. Full recipe here. …After baking brush with butter and top with nigella seeds and cilantro.

My slight modification that includes honey and uses Baker’s Percentages:

270g King Arthur Bread Flour, 142g warm water (52% of flour weight), 71g Full-Fat Greek Yogurt (26%), 28g melted ghee (10%), 1-1/2 teaspoons Active Instant Dry Yeast, 2/3 teaspoon honey, 5g (scant 2%) salt. Combine all in a mixer for 6 minutes on low speed.

  1. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.
  2. Divide into ~100g balls. (The original recipe calls for 65g, which I felt were too small for that event.) Let the dough balls rest 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat grill pan to medium/medium-high.
  4. Very lightly oil a work surface roll out a dough ball to 8-10″ long. Then roll the next ball as the one on the stove is cooking. Resist the urge to roll out very thinly — the center may burn instead of bubbling.
  5. Bake the first side about 45 seconds — until it the dough bubbles, then flip and bake another 45 seconds or until the naan is just cooked through. (Cooking them too long makes them tough.)
  6. After baking brush with ghee and top with minced chives.

For transport we put a cooling rack on the bottom of a sheet tray, then piled on layers of naan with each level separated by parchment paper. We wrapped the entire thing in foil. Shortly before dinner the naan was reheated in a low oven while still wrapped in the foil.

Thoughts:

I’d never made ghee, but it’s super easy. There are tons of recipes online but basically you just heat butter until warm/very warm, skim the surface until the solids drop out, strain. Done. We heated a couple of smashed garlic cloves in the finished ghee for a little background sense of garlic.

The naan was well received at dinner, so that part went well. I think the King Arthur recipe calls for too much liquid — I wound up adding a few tablespoons of flour and then a pinch of salt to keep the balance. If I had it to do over again I would have held back about 1/3 of the water initially to see how the dough shaped up.

I sort of feel like that’s not-uncommon in bread baking and recipe writing — too much liquid in the formula that then combines with generous amounts of bench flour to compensate. As a rule I try to do the opposite and incorporate as little raw flour as possible, which then also helps maintain the balance of the recipe. That’s why in Step #4 it calls for a lightly oiled surface, rather than floured or heavily floured.

Ten people ate twelve of the fifteen naan. Little or No Leftovers = Successful Recipe. I’ll use this one again.

Weeknight Pizza Thoughts

An easy weeknight pizza with tomato sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella:

The formula: 350 grams AP flour, 220 grams room temperature water (63% hydration), 11 grams honey (3% by weight), 11 grams olive oil (3% by weight), 7 grams kosher salt (2% by weight). 1.5 teaspoons instant dry yeast.

The steps: Mix at low speed for 8 minutes or until smooth. Coat a bowl lightly with oil (it only takes a teaspoon or a little more). Ball the dough and swush it around in the bowl to coat. Cover. Let rise one hour, then fold the dough 2-4 times and cover.

Place a baking stone onto the oven – middle rack. Preheat the oven to 500F.

Let rise another 90 minutes then remove to a lightly oiled workspace. Gently stretch the dough into a circle, taking care not to smash the outer rim. Dimple the center all over with your fingertips. Transfer the dough to a screen or pizza peel. Top with the tomato sauce and pepperoni.

Bake for 8 minutes. Top with the mozzarella and bake for another 3-5 minutes until melted.

Other thoughts:

Our weeknight pizzas are 12-14″ in diameter. For crackery thin crusts we use 300 grams of flour. For “poofy” style pizzas we use 400 grams of flour. Today’s pizza was 350 grams and it was more poofy than crackery.

Today’s pizza was made with AP flour. Most of the time we’re using bread flour for pizzas. Either of those will work for this pizza, we just happen to have more AP flour in the pantry, so..

We also did a taste test of two (supermarket available) low moisture whole milk mozzarellas. It was Belgioioso vs Galbani. We baked a cheese-only pizza with equal amounts of the cheeses on each half of the pie for the test. The consensus was that they’re pretty even. I felt like maybe the Galbani tasted slightly creamier/milkier, but I don’t know that I could tell the difference in a blind test.

Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt

A weeknight flatbread recipe that looks and tastes like more effort than it really is-

As an example, an easy flatbread recipe might be something like:

Combine 300 grams AP flour, 185 grams room temperature water (65% hydration), 6 grams kosher salt (2% of the flour by weight), and 1 tsp instant yeast in a stand mixer. Knead on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover and let rest 1 hour. Divide the dough into 3 balls, cover, and let rest another 30 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Stretch the doughs out into loose rounds 6-8″ across. Brush each side of the discs lightly with olive oil, and cook 2-4 minutes per side until done and browned to taste. Wrap the finished breads in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Continue reading “Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt”

Joy of Cooking Gingerbread House Recipe – Step by Step

Note the little window box on the left. It’s a Kit Kat with bits of gummy. We were pretty pleased with how that came out. I like the snowman too — neither of the snowman nor the window box were my contributions. I contributed the oddly shaped tree.

The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Gingerbread House recipe. I chose this recipe because it seemed to be the simplest dough, or, at least the dough that was the most similar to something that I was familiar with. I treated the house-pieces as crackers and I think that “grounding” helped.

The dough recipe begins with 1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted over low heat. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup unsulfured molasses and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl whisk together 4-1/2 cups AP flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, and (I left these out) 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Make a well in the center and mix in the wet ingredients. Add another 1/2 cup AP flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Knead on the counter a few times, wrap in plastic, and move to the refrigerator to fully cool for up to 3 days. I removed the dough from the refrigerator 1 hour before rolling out — I’d suggest allowing 3-4 hours for the dough to come to room temperature instead.

Note: I found this dough too grainy and loose to knead, so I added a couple of tablespoons of water. Interestingly, the recipe thinks the dough may already be too wet and calls for adding more flour if needed…

Continue reading “Joy of Cooking Gingerbread House Recipe – Step by Step”

Pepperoni Pizza

We really enjoy Salt Blade’s cured meats. The business is small and local and we like to support local artisans. Salt Blade is distributed in the Seattle area through Haggen’s, Met Market, and many other outlets. They also ship through their website. Tonight it was Pepperoni Pizza:

200629 pizza

The full pie. It’s 1/2 really cheesy and 1/2 with sparing amounts of cheese:

200629 full pizza

The Salt Blade package:

200629 salt blade

The pizza was topped with the pepperoni, a Roma tomato sauce from the garden by way of the freezer, and mozzarella.

The pizza dough recipe is simple: 300g bread flour, 160g water, 6g kosher salt, 9g olive oil, 1 tsp or less of instant yeast, depending upon how long you want to wait for the dough to rise. I used 1/4 tsp of yeast, let the dough rise for a couple of hours, then put it in the refrigerator until the next day.

The pizza was baked at 450F for about 15 minutes on a pizza screen. The cheese was was added at about the 11 minute mark.

Crackery Weeknight Pizza

My preference lately has been for cracker-style pizzas. From a technique and ingredients standpoint that generally means:

AP Flour – To limit gluten strength

Limited Kneading – To limit gluten formation

Low Hydration – This is what works for me. It’s possible to make crackers and crackery flatbreads with a wide range of water input. I’ve had the most success with smaller amounts of water.

The Addition of Fat/Shortening – Limiting gluten by interfering with the chains.

Docking The Dough – May be optional. I mostly use it when there are few or no toppings. It helps prevent the dough from poofing up like a pita.

Baking Longer At Lower Temperatures – To drive out moisture without over-browning.

200128 Pizza2
The toppings pictured above were all basically extras or leftovers:  Pesto, sauteed mushrooms, and salami.

Continue reading “Crackery Weeknight Pizza”

Two Very Different Arugula Flatbreads

We love arugula on pizza and flatbreads. Last night it was time to harvest the arugula from the salad table. (The link shows the salad table one month after the initial planting in 2015, with yet another arugula pizza. I sense a theme. Here’s a link to the Making The Salad Table post.)

The first picture is last night’s arugula pizza with a garden tomato sauce from the freezer, goat cheese, and red pepper flakes. The arugula was strewn on top after baking:

190519 argula pizza2

The sauce was rich and on the sweet side. The frozen tomatoes that we used were labeled “2018 Tomato”, so the base was likely a combination of Oregon Spring and whatever else the garden provided that day. The dough itself was a little on the sweet side too — I substituted out 10% of the water and replaced it with a Riesling.

Another picture. I stretched the pizza by hand rather than rolling it out, making a point to leave it thicker at the edges. The pizza was a little more 3-dimensional than the picture might show:

190519 arugula pizza

This flatbread is topped with pancetta, red onion, and an arugula pesto made with arugula, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and brie. The arugula pesto was the sauce, so it was added at the beginning:

190519 arugula flatbread2

Using arugula pesto meant that the end result was light and savory at the same time. The flatbread itself was somewhat crackery which complimented the zip of the arugula and red onion.