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Bake with Jack’s Garlic Naan Bread

by Jack Sturgess from Bake with Jack: Bread Every Day

Discover the principles of crafting ultra-light naan-style bread with guidance from Sunday Brunch baker in residence, Jack Sturgess, aka Bake with Jacka. An easy-to-make recipe perfect for freezing.

Introduction

I have no Indian ancestry, so I don’t have a family naan bread recipe passed down through the generations. BUT what I do have is an understanding of the PRINCIPLES of bread-making. If we know the characteristics of a bread we want to make, with that knowledge of the basic principles and a little practise, we can create our own tried, tested and pretty darn tasty recipes to make that bread our own. This recipe couldn’t be a better example of that approach, and if I can do it, then so can you.

We know naan is ultra-light and soft, so it must be a pretty wet dough, and it has those little scorched bubbles on top. Traditionally, it’s baked stuck to the side of a tandoor, a very hot barrel-shaped clay oven with burning hot coals at the bottom – SUPER-FAST to keep the softness and moisture in and encourage those large bubbles while toasting the bottom and scorching the top at the same time.

So, here’s my naan recipe that I’m all the more proud of for it NOT being traditional. The aim was to create BIG, inconsistent BUBBLES in a super-wet dough, so we go for stretching and folding over kneading to achieve that. I made these again and again, tweaking and adjusting, and through that process I learnt a whole lot more. I hope you like them too!

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Ingredients

320g (11¼oz) room temperature water
50g (1¾oz) natural yoghurt
15g (½oz) golden caster (superfine) sugar
12g (½oz) fresh yeast, crumbled, or 7g (¼oz) fast-action dried yeast
10g (½oz) olive or vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling
500g (1lb 2oz) strong white bread flour
8g (¼oz) salt
10g (½oz) nigella (black onion) seeds
For the garlic butter:
125g (4½oz) room-temperature unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
pinch of salt

Essential kit

You will need: a dough scraper, two large baking trays and a large, heavy frying pan (skillet).

Method

Making the dough: 15–20 minutes

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the water, yoghurt, sugar and yeast until the yeast has dissolved. Then add the oil.

Add the flour, salt and nigella seeds, then mix with a dough scraper until the mixture comes together into a cohesive dough with no obvious wet or dry patches.

Resting: 45 minutes

Cover the dough with an upturned bowl or plate and let the dough rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.

First fold: 5 minutes

Oil a small area of clean work surface with vegetable oil. Turn your dough out upside down onto the oily patch. Grasp a bit of the dough edge, stretch it out and then fold it over onto the dough. Repeat all the way round the dough edge, making about 10–12 folds, until you have a ball.

Resting: 30 minutes

Turn the dough over, smooth side up, and place it back in the bowl. Cover as before and rest for 30 minutes.

Second fold: 5 minutes

Oil your work surface again, then turn the dough out upside down onto it. Repeat the first fold process BUT this time make only 4 to 6 folds.

Resting: 30 minutes

Turn the dough smooth side up and place it back in the bowl. Cover and rest as before.

Dividing and pre-shaping: 5–10 minutes

Oil your work surface again, then turn the dough out upside down onto it.

Use your fingertips to flatten the dough gently and cut it into 6 equal-sized pieces with your dough scraper. If you want them all to be exactly the same size, weigh them out at about 155g (5½oz) each.

Fold and roll each piece of dough into a loose ball.

Resting and making the garlic butter: 45 minutes

Oil a large tray. Line up your 6 oily dough balls on the tray, cover loosely with cling film and let them rest for 45 minutes to relax and puff.

Meanwhile, mix the garlic butter ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Final shaping and baking: 30–40 minutes

Preheat your large, heavy frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat and your grill (broiler) on hot (mine goes on full blast) with a shelf inside.

Oil another large tray for shaping. Place a dough ball on your new tray and press with your fingertips to dimple the dough slightly. Be delicate here, but make sure you press right down to the tray. Then pick the dough up and stretch it into that classic naan teardrop shape as best as you can.

Place your naan in the hot pan and cook the underside for 2 minutes, then transfer it to the grill and bake the top for 2 minutes. Let the first one be your tester! It should be dark golden underneath, and golden on the top with a few scorches on the biggest bubbles.

Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

If you are eating your naans straight away, spread with the butter while they are hot from baking and let it melt over the top. Otherwise, cool the naans completely on a wire rack.

Tip: Making ahead – Because these are thin, moist and lightly baked, they are perfect for freezing and bringing back to peak freshness straight from the freezer or stashing in the fridge. Once completely cool, spread with the garlic butter and layer them up with a sheet of baking parchment in between each one. Place them in a reusable plastic or freezer bag and keep them in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Then preheat your oven to 180°C fan/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Bake a buttered naan on a baking tray from the fridge for 4–5 minutes or from frozen for 10–12 minutes

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