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April 30, 2011

When I have access to a decent oven, I prefer to make my own bread all of the time.  I love experimenting with different recipes and getting a feel for specific loaves until they turn out just right every time; and as much as we all enjoy a whiff of apple pie cooling on the windowsill, I really believe that nothing smells better than a good loaf of bread baking in the oven.

During my final year of college when I had a great kitchen, lots of time and and plenty of friends who doubled as taste-testers, I accumulated all kinds of favorite bread recipes, ranging from wheat to cinnamon-raisin swirl to bagels.  One of my all-time favorites is naan, which, despite being one of the easiest breads I make, always manages to impress guests.  Even better, it’s baked in a skillet, which means I can even make it in my apartment in Madrid without ever fussing with my stupid Easy Bake Oven.

You’ll notice that my pictures don’t always match the instructions in the recipe; for example, I don’t always cover my dough while it’s rising.

I also use an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin.

This is due to lack of proper kitchen outfitting, and I’d trust the written instructions before relying on the pictures.  What can I say?  You do what you can with what you have.

In related news, I have just officially decided to begin culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America in August, and man, am I looking forward to using their kitchens!  And their herb gardens!  And their flavor center!  (No, I don’t know what that is, but I can’t wait to find out.)  Is anyone else feeling a contented sigh coming on?

Till then, I think I can make do with what I have.  I just need something to hold me over until I can get back to real bread-baking, and this naan will definitely do the trick.

Yield: 12-16 rounds, depending on desired thickness
2/3 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. granulated sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
      [I find that the best way to melt the butter is to heat up the yogurt and butter together
      in the microwave and allow them to cool together.  Otherwise, the melted butter re-solidifies
      when it touches the cold yogurt.]
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
Spice toppings as desired [We enjoy garlic salt or minced onion, but feel free to experiment.]
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt.  Add the yeast mixture, butter, and yogurt.  Mix well.
3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until soft, approximately 5 minutes.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, covered, and allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
4. Once dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead for about 5 more minutes.  Dough should be elastic and springy.  Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. [I would recommend trying it once with 8 servings and then tweaking from there.]
5. Roll out each ball into a round about 1/4-inch thick.
6. Over medium-high heat in a dry skillet and flipping often to avoid burning, bake one round at a time until it is golden brown in patches.  If you want spices on top, before the final flip, brush the rounds with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with desired spice.  Serve immediately.

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