Hi, Ray here again.
At the time, I also ventured into making naan bread.
What I found out was that making the dough is easy but you do need to experiment a little with the final parts of the process so that the results are great. Most recipes are forgiving if you overcook the dish by a few minutes but baking bread does not have a huge margin of error.
I couldn’t get hold of fresh yeast anywhere, even in my local Indian store that usually stocks everything, and more, that I ever need. So I bought a jar of dried yeast. But nowhere on the label was there any clue as to how much dried yeast equals fresh yeast. I did a long search on the net and eventually found out that 4 teaspoons of dried yeast equals an ounce of fresh yeast. And I also learnt that yeast is sold in units called envelopes (I won’t bore you with the details – do some searching on the net if you want to find out more). I have updated the recipe on the website with this vital information.
Back to the recipe.
I mixed up the ingredients and added the water to make the dough. The dough was a bit dry so I ended up adding a couple of teaspoons more. I suppose that my measures might have been slightly off.
I put the dough into a plastic bag and left it for 3 hours to rise. I couldn’t figure out how to oil the bag without making a huge mess so, instead, I spread some oil over the dough and popped it into the bag.
The dough rose pretty well.
On went the oven.
Whilst the oven was heating up, I divided up the dough and rolled out the first naan. I only rolled out one because I had been warned not to roll the dough too thin or too thick. If the naan is too thin then it will be crisp and burnt but if the naan is too thick then the inside won’t be cooked properly. So I needed to experiment a little to see what worked.
The first naan was a bit thinner than 6mm (1/4 inch).
In went the first naan and I hovered around the oven wondering what was going on inside. I sneaked a peek after 5 minutes and the naan had puffed up and looked good. After 9 minutes the outside was all brown and it looked burnt in a couple of places so I took it out of the oven. It was awful. Burnt, dry and crisp with no dough inside the crust at all. I tried a small piece and it was terrible. The naan went outside for the birds.
I made the second naan the same thickness to see if it was the cooking time that was the problem. After 6 minutes I pulled out the naan from the oven. It was better than the first one – a better flavour – but still nothing inside the crust and too crunchy. Another naan for the birds.
The third naan was thicker, being the 6mm (1/4 inch) that the recipe called for. I pulled the naan out after 6 minutes. This time the dough in the middle wasn’t cooked properly but the flavour was better. Lucky time for the birds again.
The fourth naan was the same 6m (1/4 inch) thick and this time I baked it for 8 minutes. It was perfect with a good browned outside, a well cooked inside and a great taste.
The fifth naan was again 6mm (1/4 inch) thick and this time I cooked it for 10 minutes. It was pretty good but the crust was a bit too crunchy. It wasn’t nearly as good as the 8 minute naan.
So I had found the correct thickness and cooking time for naan in my oven. Ovens do not have a uniform temperature so you will probably need to experiment a little with your first batch of naans to find what works in your house.
The naans are smaller than the ones made in Indian restaurants – about half the size. But I don’t think that this is a problem because I always find that I either end up leaving some naan when I dine out or, even worse for my waistline, I keep eating the naan when I’m full just because I’ve bought it. If you do want bigger naans then just use more dough – but keep the thickness correct.
If you like naan bread then I definitely recommend try out this recipe. The overall rating for the final naans that I made was 9.5 out of 10 – stunning.
But I do recommend that you find out the recipe that works for you before inviting dinner guests to try them.