Along with making pie crusts, baking bread can also be quite intimidating. Mostly because it can be easy to end up with a dense lump of dough that simply won’t rise. I’ve been there, and it’s extremely frustrating.
The secret is all in the yeast. Specifically, not killing your yeast with water that’s too hot or too cold. However, rather than getting fussy with “proofing” active dry yeast with water that’s 110 degrees F and a little sugar, and then waiting 5-10 minutes to see if it gets bubbly (meaning it’s usable), the most fool-proof method I’ve found is to use instant yeast.
Instant yeast doesn’t need to by re-hydrated or “proofed” the way active dry yeast does, and can just be mixed in with your dry ingredients. This I can handle.
And if I can handle it, so can you. Trust me.
Although my husband is pretty much a pro when it comes to bread-baking (he was a little obsessed with Tartine in SF, and currently Clear Flour Bread in Brookline), I’m more comfortable sticking to the basics.
Naan is a great way to begin experimenting with making bread, because not only is it delicious, but it’s also incredibly simple, requiring only a single rise and minimal kneading.
I topped my dough with a quick brushing of olive oil and crushed garlic before baking, but you could certainly leave it plain, add caramelized onions…pretty much anything you like. I bet a mix of cinnamon and sugar would be awesome if you wanted to make a sweeter naan.
And as an added bonus – your house will smell amazing. Seriously, there is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread. Except maybe that first bite of slightly crispy, chewy naan straight out of the oven.
I probably added an additional 1/4 C. flour in the process of mixing and kneading. Just be sure your don’t add too much (only what’s necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands/counter), or your dough will be too dry.
I tried both a pizza stone and a baking sheet and found that I actually preferred the baking sheet method because the bottoms of the naan were more crispy. However, I didn’t pre-heat the pizza stone, so it’s likely that this impacted the results.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in a container in the fridge, or freeze them for a longer shelf-life.