Do you love the taste of fresh home made bread, but wish you could have it warm on your table in much, much lesser time? Do you hate it when you knead, proof, wait to bake the bread and power supply plays spoil sport? How would you like to have bread dough in the fridge which can be transformed into spongy bread in under 10 minutes? And you don't even need to turn your oven on? Yes, bake it in your skillet. Skillet bread!! Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois call this as Naan bread. Who hasn't read about this famous duo, the physician and the pastry-chef, the co-authors of Artisan Breads In 5 Minutes A Day ? If you haven't yet, they have revolutionized the concept of baking bread at home. Most of their breads as far as I know, are no-knead breads. The dough is generally made by just mixing the ingredients, letting the dough proof at room temperature for a couple of hours. You could bake the bread right away or refrigerate the dough for up to 15 days, bake as and when needed to have freshly baked bread anytime you please! The concept of 5 minutes here is the hands on time you would be spending for preparing the dough and then later for shaping it. Perfect for busy folk, lazy folk, efficient folk (generally most humans) who like to bake their own breads.
I was looking for a good recipe for naan and hit this post where Zoe mentions that she has baked naan from almost all bread doughs including the master boule dough. A no-knead yeast bread which can give you flexibility to choose your 'baking' time and can be baked in your skillet in a jiffy tempted me so much! Agreed, it does not taste exactly like or have the texture of the naan we eat at restaurants, its more a cross between a yeast bread and naan, but indeed a very nice bread to bake. Tasty, easy and lending itself to so many possibilities, a recipe I am glad I came across! Eat it as is or stuff it with what your heart desires. Eat it warm from the skillet or a couple of hours later in your lunch box, it will still be soft and taste good!
I must admit though, I liked the bread most on the day I mixed the dough. The bread, made after 24 hours of mixing the dough was great too, but slightly sour (if you ask me). But if you are a person who will enjoy it, by all means use it much later. I have made a quarter of the original recipe (all the 3 times I made it) as I was initially not sure how we would like it and then of course, I do not want a whole lot of dough which I can't use up in one day. The small changes I have made in the recipe is a slight reduction of salt, addition of a tablespoon of oil to replace part of the liquid, but then eventually I had to add a tablespoon of water to get the dough to the right consistency.
Here is what we do. Recipe from here for the master boule dough.
Ingredients: ( to make about 6-8 small breads)
All purpose flour - 228 grams, refer note
Salt - scant 1 teaspoon ( the recipe uses more, I will use 3/4 teaspoon if serving bread with curry)
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Lukewarm water - 3/4 cup / 168 grams (start with 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon, add another tablespoon gradually if needed)
Instant yeast - 1 1/8 teaspoon
Extra oil or ghee for cooking
Extra flour for dredging
Procedure : Mise en place. Sift the flour and salt. Keep aside. In a large bowl (which can allow you to mix the dough well without working the dough too much) take the lukewarm water. Add the yeast, mix it in. Add the oil, tip in the flour. Mix just enough (with your hand) to incorporate the ingredients together into a homogenous mass, may take about 30 seconds to do this. Do not knead. The dough will be sticky. As mentioned above, start with 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon water, add the extra tablespoon only if you need to add. Transfer the dough to a (transparent) container with a lid, cover the lid loosely. Mark the level of dough with colored tape. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 2-3 hours. The dough is supposed to rise and then collapse during this period. My dough almost tripled and then showed little signs of collapsing at the end of 3 hours. I did not want to leave it out for much longer so I have refrigerated at this point. Cover the lid such that gases can escape from the container. Please note: The rise and collapse time is only indicative and will vary according to the atmospheric heat. It may take longer when the weather is cooler.
You could bake the bread after it starts to collapse, but the dough will be too sticky and may be difficult to handle. Refrigeration for 3-4 hours will help handle the dough easily as it will firm up. After refrigeration the dough will feel slightly rubbery and firm. When you wish to make the bread, take out as much dough as needed, make small orange sized balls out of the dough, bigger ones if you wish the bread to be thicker or larger. Heat a teaspoon or more of oil (or ghee if you wish) in the skillet. Butter has a lower burning point, hence not recommended. ( I like to use my shallow non-stick pan which I use for regular cooking and not my dosa-tawa, the shallow shape allows better cooking I think) . Flour your work area generously. You could also rest the dough for about 5 minutes before rolling. Take a ball of dough, lightly roll it into a circle ( I made mine about 4-5 mm thick at a guess), lift it carefully and lay it into the skillet. Cover the pan with a lid. This is to 'bake' the bread. I cooked on medium heat for about a minute, you will see bubbles in the bread. Lift with a pair of tongs to see if the bottom is cooked and golden brown. Flip and cook covered on the other side for another minute. The cooking time varies depending on the thickness of the rolled dough and the heat. If using more fat, I guess, a longer cooking time will not allow the bread to burn nor make the outer part chewy. Make one or two, taste and then decide how you want to go from there.
Serve warm from the skillet or keep covered in a container to serve later. Eat as is, or with hummus or curry or just a dollop of butter. You could also stuff the dough (like parathas) with chopped sauteed onion and or cottage cheese and spices. Good lunch box idea I think..
I see myself making this again, try more variations, with half whole wheat perhaps? A sweet dough next to try sweet variations. Delicious thought!
Please note : The authors measure flour using the dip and sweep method which is 140 grams for a cup of APF as mentioned on their site. There are hardly any ingredients to make this simple and easy bread, but good quality yeast is critical to the success, so is the temperature of the water. If the water is too hot, you will kill the yeast. Good quality yeast if very old or stored improperly will not give you the desired results.
The bread is Yeast Spotted.