Saturday, July 2, 2011

Yes, I Bake

And I do it like Mozart wrote sonatas, thank you very much.

Saw this recipe over at Been here so long got to calling it home.

Na'an (Indian style bread loaves)

1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast
5 oz warm water (140º works nicely)
2 c flour
3 oz melted butter (or ghee if you have access or make your own)
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk, beaten

Combine sugar, yeast, and water. Whisk well and rest until it froths up.

Sieve flour and salt to mix them thoroughly. (In practice I generally just mix them with a whisk in the mixing bowl.

Make a well and pour in yeast mixture and melted butter.

Mix together with your fingers. Rub your hands with a little butter and knead to make a soft smooth dough, about five minutes.

Cover dough and allow to rise for about two hours.

Divide into six portions and gently roll into small loaves on a lightly floured surface.

Brush with egg yolk.

Bake on greased baking tray for 10 to 15 minutes at 450º.

Serve immediately and be prepared to have people swooning at the goodness of them.

I've been playing with this recipe for about 3 months now. I've found it to be a good basic bread recipe, and once I got it to work right, I started experimenting with it.

First, some notes on the basic recipe

1) The water should actually be between 105 & 130 (the temperature at which yeast starts to die from the heat)

2) Whisk, shmisk. I don't own one. I stir my flour with a spoon. Works fine.

3) Frothing yeast? Huh? Thank heaven for YouTube. Again, I don't have a whisk, so I just beat it senseless with a fork. Apparently there's some sort of dried husk around yeast, so enthusiastic violence to crack the husk open is the way to go.

3) Using only 3 oz of butter gives you a stiff, dry, dough. Try using more - up to 4 oz. If the dough is too gooey & sticky, mix in more flour a little bit at a time until it stops being sticky.

4) I actually didn't have a brush to spread the egg yolk the first few times I tried this, but I made do successfully with a piece of folded-up paper towel. By the way, here's how you separate out an egg yolk. Heads up - Mr. Ultra-Super-Professional-Chef makes it look WAY too easy in this video. Take your time, pour it back & forth S-L-O-W-L-Y and let gravity do the work of pulling the white off. If you rush, the yolk will puncture and you'll have to start over with a new egg. Oh, and *beating* the egg yolk? I haven't bothered. It's just used as a painted-on glaze, anyway. But knock yourself out, if you feel the urge.

5) To my taste, I find that 1 t. salt is a little too much. I prefer a scant teaspoon.

6) How to knead dough. I didn't know how to do this when I started.

7) Baking time... yeah, well, check 'em at 15, but don't be surprised if they need to stay in longer. Especially with using 4 oz butter, I've had them in up to 25 minutes.


1) Cinnamon raisin:

Add 4 tablespoons of cinnamon and... um... a whole bunch of raisins. Sorry, I didn't actually measure them. But when it comes to adding flavor ingredients, my philosophy is "better way too much than not enough". Basically, if you're kneading the dough and the raisins keep falling out all over the place and you think to yourself "man, I've got WAY too many raisins in here", then you're doing it right.

2) Chocolate chip:

Add 6 tablespoons cocoa, 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, and... dang... forgot to measure again... A whole bunch of chocolate chips. For fun, also consider throwing in (either additionally or alternatively) ivory, cherry, caramel, peanut butter, butterscotch, or mint chips.

3) Garlic & onion:

Add 2 tablespoons powdered garlic and 2 tablespoons powdered onion.

3) Garlic & onion & pepperoni:

Just did this one tonight: 2 T garlic, 2 T onion, and a 6 oz package of Hormel diced pepperoni. Man, I *really* thought I had way too much pepperoni when I was kneading it, but it turned out great. Offhand, I'm thinking anything you like on your pizza would make a great ingredient to throw in to the garlic/onion recipe, but I haven't started playing around with that yet.

Addendum: I like to divide my dough into 8 pieces, just because the batch lasts longer that way.

Also, if you don't eat them all right away (WARNING: eating them all right away in a fit of impassioned gluttony is a VERY serious possibility) and you have leftovers the next day, I find these little loaves are better warm - say 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave.


  1. The first rule of flavor ingredients like raisins, garlic, chocolate chips and onions and suchlike is "add until you think you have too much and then add more". Works every time.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the recipe. You have gotten WAY more creative than I have with this one.

    I did want to mention that "a whole bunch of" is actually a technical cooking term and so no apologies are necessary.


    PS I am now going to have to try the "cinnamon raisin" and the "pepperoni" versions. Thanks for the ideas.

  3. Sounds really good. Aren't ivory chips a little hard on the teeth?

  4. Something I have found interesting over the years is variation in recipes. I have quite a few recipes from my mother (as I'm sure many people do) and I can't make some of them work with what she has written down. She is still around and kicking, so I ask her and she swears that the recipe is accurate. Her whole wheat bread recipe, for example, calls for an amount of flour that I have never been able to add to the dough. I have to add a significant amount less or the dough gets completely dried out and unworkable. Never figured out why the difference.

    I was just reminded of this by your comments on the amount of butter needed. I use the 3 oz in the recipe and get perfect dough every time.

    Just one of those weird things.

  5. Moogie - Yes they are, but there's nothing like the flavor of genuine elephant tusk.

    HSL - In my case, it might just be personal preference. I like working with wetter dough, plus you get more rise out of the loaves.