Questions about cooking Naan bread

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by locksleyu, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. locksleyu


    Likes Received:
    At home cook
    Hello everyone, I am new to this board and this is my first post. 

    I lately have been cooking many types of Indian food, and I finally decided to challenge myself with making Naan bread from scratch. 

    I had several issues, and was hoping some of the experts on this board could give some advice.

    I don't have the recipe in front of me, but I have some general questions. It was a 'simple naan bread' recipe with no spices (no cumin, etc.) to speak of, just the basics.

    1) The recipe said to mix salt, sugar, baking soda, and warm water with a bit of yeast and wait 10 minutes for it to froth(?). I did that and it didn't really froth much, which may have been the cause of some of my later problems. I used Fleischmann's Active yeast, freshly bought the same day from the grocery store.

    2) When I made the dough it said to leave it sit for ~1 hour in a bowl with a wet towel on top, until the dough rises about 2x. I waited 2 hours and it didn't appear to rise much. It was sitting in my semi-warm kitchen, should I have put it in a warmer place and if so where?

    3) Shaping the bread was very difficult since it stuck to everything. I put flour on my hands, rolling pin, and counter, but still it stuck like crazy. I ended up making something vaguely bread-like but I think it was a bit too thick.

    4) The resultant bread tasted more like cookies and was a bit crunchy.

    Any ideas what could have went wrong? I think most of the issue was with the Yeast, but not sure what I should have done differently. I'm not sure if the stickyness was related or not.

    I'm looking forward to trying a second time but I need to study up on this stuff first :)

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  2. chicagoterry


    Likes Received:
    Home Cook
    It sounds like your yeast didn't activate. You could have started it in water that was too hot, which would kill the yeast, or too cold, which would lengthen the rising time substantially.

    Or, you could have gotten an old package of yeast. There should be a date on the envelope.

    I always "proof" the yeast before I add it to my flour. Take a a cup or so of the water the recipe calls for and make sure it is right around 110F. Stir in a bit of the sugar from the total in the recipe (it feeds the yeast) then sprinkle the yeast over the slightly sweetened, warm water. If the yeast is alive it should bubble and foam after a few minutes. I wouldn't add the salt to the proofing water. I'd add it to the dry ingredients.  Salt slows down the action of the yeast. 

    Until you get a feel for what 110F feels like, get yourself a thermometer and use it to make sure the water you proof the yeast in is the right temperature.

    There are also many recipes for Naan that do not call for yeast at all. You might want to google it and try another recipe. Most of the recipes in my Indian cookbooks call for yogurt and gee as part of the liquid ingredients, which would make a more tender dough than just plain water--and help the finished breads get that nice bit of char on them.