Well, I did it! Granted, it took two attempts… the first loaf… well, let’s just say it didn’t go terribly well. But the second one turned out very good!
Looks pretty nice, eh? The crumb is a bit on the tight side, but the flavour is nicely sour, and the crust and crumb are chewy, which I kinda like, actually. Should make some mighty fine sandwiches!
Well, everyone, I’d like to introduce my new friend, Ted:
Yup, my starter lives! And his name is Ted.
For those interested in the gory details, I used the recipe from here. 24 hours in, things looked bubbly. 36 hours in, it was really bubbly. Then the drought of days 3-5… it smelled quite sour, but there was virtually no bubbling to be seen.
At this stage, it felt like things were settling in to a rut, so I made a few adjustments, modifying the feeding as follows:
- Switched from 75%/25% white/rye ratio to 50%/50%.
- Increased the hydration from 100% to 120%, give or take.
Two days later, and you can see the results. It smells lightly sour, yeasty, and it’s doubling in 8 hours. Woo! So tomorrow, it’s sour rye… I hope.
Yup… I said I didn’t have the attention span to maintain a sourdough starter, and, well, I probably don’t.
But I just gotta try it.
As such, I now have a plastic container in my oven, the door propped open with a towel and the light on, containing a 100% hydration blend of organic white and dark rye flours. Here’s hoping it comes to life…
If anyone’s had good quality Indian food, they’ve probably experienced Naan, a classic Indian leavened flatbread. Pair it with a good curry and there’s just nothing like it… and, unfortunately, it’s also incredibly difficult to replicate at home. Traditionally, Naan is baked in something called a Tandoor, a vertical, clay oven heated by charcoal which can reach upwards of 900F! To bake naan, the dough is flattened into a teardrop shape and then stuck to the inside wall of the oven, where it bakes for mere minutes before coming out piping hot.
Of course, no one is going to have a Tandoor at home, and so replicating Naan at home is basically impossible. However, you can get pretty close:
I got the recipe from a lovely woman named Manjula. I don’t actually know who she is, but she has a website, and apparently posts videos on youtube, including this Naan recipe. Now, obviously the key to good Naan is blazing hot temperatures, and it turns out the best way to achieve this at home is with a baking stone. If you don’t have one, get one. You’ll love it, trust me. For pizza, there’s nothing like it, and it can also be used for artisnal breads, and as it turns out, Naan, too.
As for the recipe, it’s pretty straightforward (BTW, if you want the volumetric measurements, just check out the video):
1 tsp active dry yeast 1 tsp sugar 170g warm water 300g flour 1 tsp salt pinch baking soda 2 tbsp oil 2 1/2 tbsp plain yogurt
The following directions are my method of putting the dough together, but really, there’s no bad way. Just make sure you activate the yeast before doing anything else. Anyway, here’s how I put it together:
- Combine the water, sugar, and yeast, whisk, and set aside to activate.
- Combine the dry incredients and whisk together to combine.
- Dump out the dry onto the counter and make a nice, big well.
- Put the yeast mixture, oil, and yogurt into the well and combine with a fork.
- Gradually incorporate flour with a fork until it comes together as a dough.
- Kneed for a minute or so, just a few strokes. Note, the dough will be pretty wet, making this process a bit… messy. Manjula suggests putting a little oil on your hands.
- Let the dough rise 3-4 hours. Note, I usually rise an hour, degass, then rise one more hour. I’m impatient.
- Put the stone in the oven and turn it up to 500 degrees, letting it preheat for a good 30 minutes, then switch the oven to the high broiler. Note: never put a cold stone in a hot oven!
- Divide the dough into 4-6 pieces, rolling into balls and dusting with flour.
- Baking in batches, flatten the pieces to 1/4” thickness (feel free to roll, but I like to use my hands). Then for each piece, dampen your hands, toss the dough between them, and then place the piece on the stone. Optionally, prick with a fork, otherwise they tend to inflate. A lot.
- Bake for 2-3 minutes, until spotty brown.
- Once done, take them out and brush with melted butter or ghee (clarified butter).
Look like a lot of effort? Trust me, it’s not so bad. And man… it’s worth it.
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