Snowshoe Naan

February 28, 2014

WHAT CAN YOU DO with flour, water, milk, yeast and salt? You can turn them into Naan, just as I did this week. Naan is an ancient, Central-Asian flatbread with a wonderfully-wheaty taste and a crisp but chewy texture. I like to form the dough into long “snowshoe” shapes, and serve them with dinner or as an appetizer at parties. The dough is remarkably easy to make, and forming it with wet fingers is two tons of fun.

I should probably mention that most contemporary recipes for Naan dough call for baking powder and sugar. However, the Naan-making nomads of Central Asia didn’t use baking powder or sugar for their breads, and consequently neither do I.

Here’s the recipe in words and pictures, followed by a printer-friendly copy-and-paste version (the latter will give you exact measurements):

First, pour warm water and milk into a big bowl.

Then sprinkle the surface with active dry yeast…

And some kosher salt.

Grab a spoon which won’t clash with the color of your mixing bowl, and use it to stir in 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

Be sure to stir in one direction only. This will encourage the strands of gluten to develop.

As you stir, keep adding flour by the 1/2 cupful.

Stop adding flour when the dough becomes too stiff to stir.

Next, scoop the sticky mass onto your generously-floured work surface, and knead the dough until it feels smooth and elastic. This will take about 10 minutes.

As you knead the dough, I hope this gawd-awful tune doesn’t run through your head.

In my college years, I was the lead singer in a “cover band” that regularly performed at weddings. And what song did the happy couple always request? The aforementioned, gawd-awful song.

A few years later, I dyed my hair black and red, and became a punk-rock singer. Or, rather, a singer with a punk-rock look.  No more weddings. Instead, I performed at CBGBs (seven times!) and The Bitter End in NYC.

But why are asking me about my misspent youth?

After all, we’re in the midst of making Naan.

Please try to stay focused.

Now wash out, dry, and lightly oil the mixing bowl. Add the dough, and then flip it so that both sides are coated. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume — about 2 hours. In winter, my “warm spot” is always a heating pad set to “low.”

Meanwhile, set a big pizza stone or some unglazed quarry tiles on the center oven rack. One hour before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500°F.

Naan is a fast bread, because it requires only one rise. (Other breads, including the baguettes we made last week, require 3 rises.)

Form the dough into a rough rectangle, and then cut it in half. Place one half under a sheet of lightly oiled (or vegetable-sprayed) plastic wrap.

Cut the other half into 5 equal pieces. Place all but one piece under plastic.

Using a rolling pin, roll out one segment into an 8- by 5-inch rectangle.

Sprinkle the rectangle with a pinch of kosher salt, and, if you wish, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, dried herbs, or fresh, minced chives.

Here comes the first fun part: With very wet fingers, make lots of indentations all over the dough.

Here’s the second fun part: Lift the dough onto your wrist, and then raise your arm, and let the dough elongate itself to about 12 inches.

Open the oven door and quickly set the dough on the hot stone or tiles. Bake the snowshoe  until its edges puff up, and its color turns from white to spotty brown — 6-8 minutes. Do not overcook.

Form and bake the other snowshoes. If you are using a large baking stone or unglazed tiles, you can bake 2 or 3 snowshoes at a time.

Now grab a pastry brush, which, in a perfect world, would be purple not red, and brush the warm bread with some melted, unsalted butter.

Or, skip the butter, let the loaves cool, and then freeze them. When you are ready to serve, simply reheat the Naan and then brush it with butter.

Homemade Naan is outrageously delicious.

Can I offer you a crisp, chewy taste?

And here, as promised, is a printer-friendly copy-and-paste version of the above:

Snowshoe Naan
An ancient bread, as made by Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 10 loaves, approximately 12 inches long, and 7 inches wide
2 cups warm water (110F degrees)
1 cup warm milk (110F degrees)
1 packet dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 Tbsp salt (plus extra for sprinkling tops of loaves)
5-6 cups unbleached, all-purpose or “plain” flour
A little olive oil or vegetable spray for greasing the mixing bowl
Sesame Seeds or fresh or dried herbs, for topping the breads
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (for brushing the bread after it has baked)

Special equipment — A large pizza stone or unglazed ceramic tiles on which to bake the snowshoes.

1. Making the dough — Pour the water and milk into a large bowl; sprinkle on the yeast and salt. Then stir in 2 cups of flour. Stir in one direction to help the strands of gluten develop. Stir in more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough becomes too stiff to stir.

2. Kneading the dough — Dump the dough onto a floured board, sprinkle more flour on top, and knead until smooth and elastic — about 10 minutes.

3. The first (and only!) rise — Wash and dry the bowl, and then grease it lightly with olive oil or vegetable spray. Then return the dough to the bowl. Flip the dough so that each side is coated with oil or spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in volume – 2 to 3 hours. If you are impatient (like me), set the bowl on a common heating pad set to the lowest setting. The dough will be ready in approximately 1 hour.

4. Preheating the oven — One hour before you are ready to bake, set the pizza stone or unglazed ceramic tiles on the middle oven rack. Preheat the oven to 500°F.

5. Forming the dough – Deflate the dough, and pour it onto your floured surface. Form it into a rough rectangle, and then cut the rectangle in half. Cover one half of the dough with plastic wrap. Cut the other half into 5 equal-size pieces. Place all but one piece under plastic.

Roll out one segment into a rectangular shape about 8 inches long and 5 inches wide. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the sesame seeds or herbs. Then, with very wet fingers, make lots of indentations all over the dough. Then lift the dough onto your wrist, raise your arm, and let the dough elongate itself to about 12 inches.

6. Baking the Naan — Open the oven door and quickly set the dough on the hot stone or tiles. Bake until its edges puff up, and its color turns from white to spotty brown — 6-8 minutes. Do not overcook.

Form and bake the other snowshoes. If you are using a large baking stone or unglazed tiles, you can bake 2 or 3 snowshoes at a time.

7. Serving — Brush the bread with melted butter, and serve at once. Naan — no matter how you make it or bake it — is always at its delicious best while still warm.

Freezing: After baking, omit the butter. Let the loaves cool to room temperature, and then freeze them in a plastic bag. Reheat when you are ready, and then brush with melted butter.

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Related Posts:
Heavenly Challah (egg bread)
Easy Homemade Baguettes
English Cream Scones

Comments

  1. Tammy says:

    Kevin, I always love reading your recipes because it’s not just a recipe, it’s a fun story and an adventure. And you always make me laugh.

    But pray tell, where was Lily? Not interested in naan?

  2. Cary Bradley says:

    I cannot believe you went there. :) Clicked on the link and there he was, ready to sing “When I knead you.” Burst out laughing! What I wouldn’t give to see a tape of you singing at a wedding in the 70s. Of course, the 70s clothes, are the funniest part of all! Okay, I’m gonna make your naan. We adore it, but have never made it. I’d definitely add garlic, and the sesame seeds sound terrific too. Thanks so much for sharing, Kevin. Stay warm up there, my good friend!

  3. Cherylann McGuire says:

    Kevin, I cannot wait to try this bread and love your chatty way of describing the steps. They alone make reading the recipes worthwhile! Where do you get your tiles for baking though? Can I just get some from Lowe’s and use them in the oven? thanks!

  4. Heather Schlerf says:

    Kevin- it probably doesn’t work with gluten-free flour….have you tried ??

  5. gloria says:

    I’m with Cherylann, where do you get the tiles? Or can you do this without tiles? What would be an alternative method for the tile-less?? Why wouldn’t a large cast iron skillet work? I’m assuming it needs to be something that can take the 500 degree temp that that amt. of time.

  6. Cairn says:

    We love to make ours out on the grill and we serve it with chorizo and lentil stew. Yummy!

  7. Erin Brady says:

    I was so excited about the naan and then clicked on the link and laughed my a$# off! You are to funny! On a side note, when we have make your own pizza night, we use naan. It’s so delicious! Now back to Leo….to laugh some more. And please if their are any pics of you as a wedding singer… I beg for a post!

  8. Pam Dorfman says:

    This looks like such a fun bread.. I am definitely going to make it for my grandkids, but I am hoping to take off the carbs.. anyway we could low-carb this one, and if so, what would you recommend. My first thought is to use coconut flour.

  9. Brenda Johnson says:

    Not only did I thoroughly enjoy my freshly made snowshoe Naan (Thank you!) last night…. but I will now enjoy the crooning of Leo Sayer running through my head today!!! :) These shoes of flat bread- complete with their brushing of butter, some with fresh herbs, some with sesame seeds- ALLl delicious!! Chewy, crispy- yeasty and buttery…. simply irresistible!!! (anyone have that song in their head now too?)

  10. badger gardener says:

    I have an Indian-spiced chicken dish going in the slow cooker and am all set to try my hand at snowshoe naan today. Can’t wait to try it.

  11. katcw says:

    Kevin – can this be made with whole wheat flour? Or part and part?

  12. Cherylann and Gloria – I purchased my baking tiles at a hardware store. A baking stone (a/k/a “pizza stone”) will work as well.

    badger gardener – Indian-spiced chicken + Snowshoe Naan = a marriage made in heaven.

    katcw – I haven’t tried Naan with whole wheat flour. But I suspect it would work with half all-purpose and half whole wheat. If you try this combo, let me know how it turns out for you.

  13. Sandy S says:

    Of course, I now am singing “When I need you—-”. Will sing it to my birds instead of their usual good morning song. I’m with everybody else, photos please!!! Will definitely try this Naan, sounds so delicious. Thank you for your recipes and such a fun way to start my Sundays.

  14. Mary says:

    Oh yes, I will be making Snowshoe Naan! Thank you Kevin.

  15. Mary Ann Z. says:

    Kevin,

    LOL!!!!! You are sooooo awful! Of course, I clicked on the gawd awful song and looking at those gawd awful clothes plus remembering the words of the song. Thanks for the memories.

    I will make Snowshoe Naan plus I still have to try your recipe for baguettes. I look forward to your emails and visiting with you and other readers online. Take care and stay warm.

  16. Deborah R says:

    Kevin, I just love your wit! Do you think I could make this with einkorn flour with good results. I don’t eat conventional wheat.

  17. Ana says:

    I am so excited to try to make naan. We have severe nut allergies so we have never been able to try this at a restaurant because of the way they prepare it. I wish I had one of those ovens they use in India but I guess it wouldn’t be very practical in the snow!

  18. sherry kanoski says:

    My Italian gramma, Nonnie, would make dough as you show here, but would fry it in a fry pan with a little olive oil, then let us either put butter & honey and cinnamon sugar for a sweet treat or top with a little tomato, mozzerella, parmesan cheese for a pizzarella treat. Yum!

  19. Annie says:

    I don’t think I have made Naan before….will try this. Thanks Kevin!

  20. Alex says:

    Now, you’ve done it!
    Hours later and I’m still kneading to knead you away!
    You are wicked.

  21. chris says:

    I love caramelizing a bunch of onions and folding them into the naan before I make them- usually on a griddle or large cast iron skillet on the stove top.
    I am betting these nomads also most likely used goat or sheep milk rather than cow- thoughts?

  22. Judy P says:

    Kevin, have you ever heard anything about not using metal utensils or bowls to make dough? My granny said it did something to the yeast. ???

  23. Janice says:

    Kevin, I am such a groupie! I cannot wait until your newsletter comes out and now ANOTHER fabulous bread recipe!!! So far, I make Challah about 4 times a month, I make those killer scones about 2 times a month and now I have Naan!!! Cannot wait. I am going to make a pork belly dish and the Naan will be a beautiful compliment.

    Oh yeah! And in February I started winter sowing my garden veggies. We are getting a lot of rain in Oregon and I hope the veggies don’t drown. My cute little greenhouse was crushed in a wind storm but I can rebuild it. I think I will have a better chance of my veggies germinating…

    Anyway, I cannot wait for your book. I love your recipes. I love your home too. You have done such beautiful work.

    Warm Regards,

    Janice

  24. Judy P says:

    Oh and I LOVED Leo Sayer!! He was one of my favorites. :)

  25. Marlyn says:

    We have a cast iron rectangular griddle (covers two burners on the cooktop), that we use for pancakes. Would this work in the oven instead of the tiles?

  26. Gay Ayyagari says:

    I can’t believe you and your “checkered” past! Thanks for the music, I had forgotten about this song and it is perfect for kneading dough on a cold snowy day. So good.

  27. I love Naan!

  28. LynnB says:

    To Chris – love the idea of caramelizing onions to add to naan, especially with a little garam masala added. As for the kind of milk – naan bread comes from India, don’t know where you got the “nomad” thing from. Quite the opposite, you need a tandoor oven to make it traditionally. India is of course majority Hindu, who regard the cow as sacred, respecting them for the bounty they provide to the family. Cow’s milk is drunk and used in significant quantities (eg yogurt at just about every meal) so I’m pretty certain the traditional recipe would be for cow’s milk.

    To Kevin – brilliant idea to use quarry tiles – I’m off to buy some today. I’ve wondered for years how to replicate a tandoor and this is about the closest I’ve ever heard. Thank you heaps.

  29. Judy says:

    What a wonderful post. I think I can smell and taste the warm Naan bread now. I will definitely be making it. Thanks so for sharing.

  30. anita says:

    Bless you for this recipe. I grew up eating naan for breakfast, with chickpeas. I’m making some naan as soon as I can get some tiles.
    I’m with Erin Brady – hope you will post some wedding singer photos of yourself. Better yet, a video if one exists.

  31. Nancy says:

    LMAO! This recipe looks wonderful and I will never knead bread again without this song running through my head. Looks like a great snowy day project for today since that song is now stuck on my soundtrack for the day!. Thanks for all your great recipes and hilarious directions.

  32. Naan is one of my favorite, current addictions! It makes me so glad I am not gluten free. Thank you for the recipe and I too was looking for Lily! ( Not a St. Bernard ) the beagle.

  33. Sheryl says:

    Forget about the wedding singer photos – I want to see you as you were performing at CBGB’s! (My S.O. used to play there back in the day…early 80′s, I believe…)

  34. Lisa b says:

    Made this yesterday. YUM! I have never had Naan bread. Ate it the entire time I was cooking it! Put tons in the freezer. Will make this again. Thanks for the recipe!

  35. Lisa Connolly says:

    Thank you sooooo much for sharing this recipe! Your naan was the centerpiece and the inspiration for our Indian dinner on Sunday evening. So easy, so good.

  36. sue allen says:

    How did you say I could get an invite to a food tasting at your house in the summer??
    LOL
    I live in FL and can’t handle the cold so needs to be in the summer!
    LOL
    Thanks so much for all the wonderful pictures and recipes you share with us!

    Sue

  37. Deborah R says:

    Kevin,
    Do you think this would work with Einkorn flour?

  38. Joan says:

    Hi Kevin – you know something – you’re a “gift” to us all. I love your garden features and recipes. I have a quick question too. Do you have an “easy” Coq au vin recipe. I would love to try this, but most recipes are for more than 2 people and I can’t do that. Again, thanks for your delightful posts.

  39. Mike Winfrey says:

    I tried this recipe yesterday and love it. It was easy and behaved just like described. I split it in half and used part for it for a pizza crust and it was excellent. I baked the “crust” a bit too long and so when i assembled the pizza and baked it for 15 minutes, the naan crust was a little to dry but oh my goodness, what a great crust. Next time I will under bake the crust just a bit and expect it to be even better. Even if I do the next exactly like I did this time it will still be great. Made a few pieces as the recipe calls for and will use them for sandwiches like pita bread. Looking forward to that. Will probably do a tuna salad for that. Now for the kicker. The second half of the dough was made into a loaf and baked as bread. It was excellent as well. If you can’t tell, I can’t leave well enough alone. It fell just a little when I removed the plastic wrap which cause the loaf to be a bit denser than I was hoping for but this is something I will do again. Putting some homemade strawberry jam on it while it was sill hot was something I really enjoyed. Bottom line is this recipe will be with me for a good long time.

  40. Becky says:

    I’ve made this twice since you posted the recipe and it is our favorite homemade bread! We especially like sea salt sprinkled on the dough. It certainly isn’t hard to make, just takes time — I feel very French while puttering around the kitchen making the Naan. A friend made it and put garlic powder or salt in the mix before baking. She also used her broiler pan to bake it on. I finally found a use for that expensive Pampered Chef baking stone I bought 25 years ago and used only twice for baking pizza! Almost tossed it once— glad I didn’t!. It’s perfect for the Naan. Thank you, thank you Kevin!

  41. Mike Winfrey says:

    Just made this for a second time. Specifically made it fora pizza crust and it was so good. I love this bread.

  42. Mike Winfrey says:

    Once again it was awesome

  43. Hi Mike & Becky — So glad you like my version of Naan!

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