You look up a recipe online. Another recipe on the side catches your eye, which it would because those sneaky corporate algorithms have enough of your search data to choose and place more appealing items on the periphery of whatever you’re reading. Yesterday such a recipe idea was making naan or pita or flatbread with the brown bubble bumps in a cast iron skillet on a gas stove, and being able to refrigerate some dough portions for up to a week, using them on demand. Also, the dough could be used for pizza, baked on a stone. That’s always a bonus.
The first recipe I wanted to see was behind a newspaper’s paywall, the reason the ad was meant to draw my attention. Fortunately, the concept of stovetop flatbread is not original and several search results were similar.
The dough is very basic: put 2 cups each of unbleached all-purpose flour and bread flour, 1 1/2 t. salt into the mixing bowl, run a fork through it, then put the dough hook in the mixer. In a separate and small bowl, mix 2 t. yeast, 2 t. sugar in 1/2 c. warm water and leave it to proof for 5 minutes or so. Then add another 1/2 c. water to the yeast mix and pour the whole thing into the flour mixture. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in.
Let the dough hook do its job until dough forms a ball. It takes a while. It may be necessary to add a few more drops of water with some brands of flour, but patience is a virtue here.
After the dough is formed into a ball, it will be heavy and not sticky. Remove from the mixer. Rest it, covered with the bowl, for 10 minutes. Then knead until smooth and silky. It’s rewarding to work with this dough, if you’re a dough person, as it’s too much work for the ordinary mixer and must be worked by hand. For someone like me, who doesn’t appreciate the feel of flour on her hands, this dough was even better as it was unnecessary to add more flour while kneading or rolling. It’s a four-cupper.
Oil the bowl in which the dough will raise, the flip the dough in and over. Cover with a cloth and leave it alone for an hour and a half or two. Deflate and pat into a disk, cut into 8 pieces for stove-top baking or fridge.
There is a method to getting those bumps, making the naan authentic in appearance. Oil the cast iron skillet and wipe the excess off. Have a glass lid that will fit into the skillet below the lips so that it will seal in the steam created when the dough is cooking and you can see when the bread bubbles and puffs.
Medium high is the starting point, when a bit of water spits out. In goes the rolled out dough, then a quick spray of oil atop it and pop the glass lid on. Watch the vapor collect inside the lid and then look for the dough to bubble up. It starts happening in less than a minute, maybe less if the pan gets too hot too quick. When it bubbles, remove the lid, flip the bread and cover it again. Now watch as it puffs up, the bumps get the most heat and color from the pan and you see them when you remove it about 2 minutes later.
I refrigerated the remaining dough for an “In the kitchen with juliyya” project. There was some neighborly cold Copper River salmon that I’d marinated using Mon Chin’s basics, then baked last night to what would have been his satisfaction … and in order to serve my portion to myself, cold, today.
I chopped the avocado and onion, added lemon and a squirt of hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper, then spooned it onto a segment of the freshly-made skillet flatbread and topped it with the salmon. It was very tasty indeed.