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Monday, September 9, 2013

Vegan Naan for Sarah

I have been wanting to experiment with Naan bread for a long time.   I really do love the taste and chewy texture and it has become my bread of choice now for everything from sandwiches, pizzas, sausage buns, etc.  When Sarah expressed frustration not too long ago that she could not find vegan Naan (all the store bought ones seem to contain egg), I decided to go ahead and give it a try.  As it turns out, it is very easy.  It has become such a hit that I have made it 4 times in the last two weeks.

I understand that the best Naan bread is made in a Tandoor oven - This allows it to cook instantly and form a wonderful crips crust while staying moist and chewy in the center.  The key is the high heat of the oven, reaching almost 900°F (480°C).  I experimented with my oven on its highest temperature (500°F- 250°C) but I found that this dried out the Naan.  The easiest and best results were achieved by just  cooking it in a non stick pan with a little oil over medium high heat.  You can flavour your Naan with herbs, cheese, etc.  Excellent!

This recipe makes 6 portions.  I use what I need and freeze the rest.  It is great for Spicy Chicken Salad on Toasted Naan (that I eat at least twice of week for lunch), as a base for pizza, toasted for dipping with Hot Cheese and Caramelized Onion Dip (with a little Irish Whisky) or for Montreal Steak and Cheese with Chipotle Mayo Dressing.

You will need:  for 6 Naan breads

  • 2 cups (240g) of white flour (or flour of your choice), plus extra for working the dough
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 cup (250ml) of warm water 
  • 2 tbsp of coconut sugar* or white sugar
  • 1 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil, melted or oil of your choice + more to brush the dough
  1. Heat your oven to 200°F (100°C) for about 5 minutes to create a warm place for your dough to rise;
  2. Start by putting the warm water (1 cup - 250ml) in a small bowl and adding the sugar (2tbsp) and active dry yeast (1tsp).  Stir and let sit for 5 - 10 minutes until it begins to foam (the yeast is now activated);
  3. Add the oil (1 tbsp - 15ml) to the yeast mixture and stir to blend;
  4. Place the flour (2 cups), salt and baking powder in a bowl and mix.  Add the yeast mixture 1/3 at a time and stir with a fork.  When just starting to come together (it will be a little sticky), place the dough on a generously floured work surface and knead 5 or six times until it becomes homogenous and smooth.  Form into a ball;
  5. Oil the bottom of a medium sized bowl and place the bread dough inside.  Brush with some oil to prevent from drying and cracking.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  It will double in volume;
  6. When the dough has risen, remove from bowl and separate it into 6 even balls;  
  7. On a floured surface, use your fingers to flatten the dough and create an oval shape (it should be about 6''- 15cm long and 4'' - 10cm wide, see picture below).  Allow the dough to rest for about 5 minutes;
  8. While the dough is resting, place a non-stick or cast iron pan over medium high heat; 
  9. Add your first Naan and cook for about 2 minutes (it will start to rise and form bubbles).   Flip it over and cook for another 2 minutes or until the dark spots begin to appear on the dough where the air bubbles have formed.   Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper;
  10. Continue with this cooking process until all the Naans are done.  Enjoy!
  11. They can be frozen and toasted - delicious!
*  Coconut sugar has a wonderful caramel taste and has a lower glycemic index (35) than regular sugar - making a healthier choice.  You can find it in some grocery or specialty stores and most health food stores.

Foaming yeast mixture

Kneaded dough brushed with oil

Risen dough

Formed Naan

Smile of the day!

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