The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Leavened Flatbreads

JustJoel's picture
JustJoel

Leavened Flatbreads

I just made a delightful flatbread. Leavened, and cooked in a hot cast iron skillet, it resembles naan, except that it’s puffier, not as thin, and they don’t get stiff as they cool. The only real difference I could see between the recipe for this flatbread and several naan recipes is that the naan recipes use water and yogurt (and quite a bit more olive oil), and this recipe uses water and milk (I used whole milk). Is it the yogurt and/or the extra oil that makes naan stiffen up when it cools? I’d love to substitute the milk out for yogurt; I love that tang, but also love how pliant this bread is, even after it cools!

MontBaybaker's picture
MontBaybaker

Sounds good - can you share the recipe?  Flatbreads are on my short list of new categories to explore, and I'd love to start with a successful one.  Thanks!

JustJoel's picture
JustJoel

I don’t know how to post images, and currently the only thing I’ve got “on paper” is a chart (spreadsheet, actually) that gives percentages, and weights based on the formula. I’ll try and just type it out here. It ain’t too hard!

AP FLOUR  100%  400g  14.12oz

HYDRATION  79%  water (77% of total hydration)  243g  .86oz: milk, yogurt, or sour cream (24% of total hydration) 76g  .27oz

INSTANT YEAST 1%  4g  .01oz

KOSHER SALT .8%  3g  .01oz

FAT Olive Oil 2%  8g  .03oz

SUGAR  .6%  2g  .01oz

I couldn’t really use my bread machine for anything but mixing, but the original recipe that I adapted it from recommends an unusual (to me) order of ingredients. Add the liquids (except the oil), the yeast, and about a quarter of the flour to the stand mixer bowl or bread pan (I don’t have a stand mixer available, so I’ll just use the method I developed for Hubert, my bread machine). Set the cycle to mix. When the ingredients have incorporated, add another half the flour and the salt. Keep on mixing! When the flour/salt mixture is incorporated, add the rest of the flour. Slowly add the oil, allowing each bit to mix in before adding the next (at this point, the cycle finished and I had to start it again.) the dough should just come away from the sides of the pan. Add a pinch at a time of flour if it’s too wet to do this. When the dough has come together into a nice, soft ball, stop the machine and turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Spritz the top of the dough with olive oil, cover and let rise until double in bulk, about an hour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and, with floured hands (really! This dough is sticky), knead just a few times. Divide the dough into quarters, halve each quarter, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Working with one piece at a time, make a ball and press with your palm. Then, stretching it like you would a pizza, make a round app 6” in diameter. The edges will be thicker than the middle. Place the shaped dough on a floured plate and cover with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining pieces.

Heat a (preferably well seasoned cast iron) skillet over medium high heat. Spritz with oil and put the first/round gently on the skillet. When bubbles start to appear (just say to yourself, “not yet, not yet”), use tongs or a wide spatula to flip the bread. Again, when bubbles start to look exciting, remove the bread to a plate, cover and repeat with the remaining rounds. If you see scorched spots, you done good, buddy! You may find that you have to remove the skillet from the heat occasionally (or disconnect your smoke alarms).

Please let me know if you try this out! I hope I haven’t forgotten anything!

 

 

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Oil will make it softer.  Naan stiffen just because a thin bread dries out faster.

The key variable with naan is baking temperature.  Traditionally they're made in a tandoor which gets to 700 F, and bakes the thing really quickly, so you get the crisp-plus-fluffy result.

Without that kind of heat, recipes add fat to keep them soft.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33958/indian-naan-bread

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/naan

JustJoel's picture
JustJoel

Believe it or not, for this newbie chef, that’s great advice! So, by adding sour cream or yogurt as part of the hydration, I’m also adding a bit more fat (I never ever use non-fat), right? 

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Yes -- whole-milk yogurt.  Or you can just use a little vegetable oil.  That's also a common trick with chapatis to keep them soft.

Alford and Duguid's _Flatbreads and Flavors_ has an "Afghan Home-Style Naan" with whole-milk yogurt and a couple tablespoons of veg oil.  It's a nice book.

Excellent dog there!

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

if you like flatbreads check out Maggie Glezers wonderful book on jewish bread making - lots of different fllatbreads including my favourite - barbari, an Iranian flatbread thats puffy and seeded...absolutely delicious