Okay so in the interest of transparency I have fallen out of order ALREADY. I’ve made week three before making week two. But there is a very good reason! Week two is the green pistachio cake, and do you even KNOW how many bloomin unshelled pistachios that thing needs? 450 GRAMS. Pistachios are EXPENSIVE. So I had to wait till payday because apparently my finances are such that I cannot readily afford such luxuries as pistachios.
Anyway, lets not let cake week hijack bread week. Bread week is a scary one because bread is fickle – so much can go wrong. Don’t let the salt party with the yeast, but do have them at the same party in the same damn venue! Make sure it’s in a warm place but NOT TOO WARM DAMMIT. Leave it to prove long enough but God forbid you forget about it and find a stinking mess in the airing cupboard next time you need a clean towel!
You see. SO much to go wrong. And of course I am a glutton for punishment who will only do the MOST DIFFICULT challenges. The Technical Challenge, or techy chal if you’re cool like me.
The Challenge – Naan Bread
This week it’s garlic naan breads. Now these do not have yeast, so you don’t gotta worry about them rising. Oh, yes you do. In fact it is MUCH harder. You gotta make a nice bread but without the puffy risiness of the yeast. Granted, a naan bread is a type of flat bread which means it is…flat. But it’s still got to have texture. It needs to expand a bit to make it all soft and delicious.
Not only that, but these particular naans are made in the grill. Who cooks bread in a flippin’ grill?! Not me! Until now, of course.
This part was particularly annoying because I live in a house of many people and started to feel like I was hogging the oven. If I was just doing normal baking other stuff could go in too. But nope, gotta be awkward!
I’m starting to think more and more that Bake Off might be for Well Off Middle Class People who do not house share and who have pistachio money lying around. But I am an average person who earns averagely just trying to make it work.
This is the most important bit. The dough. This dough was my least favourite kind – very sticky. It gets all over your hands in such a way that you can’t get it off because it just keeps sticking to you and to itself in equal measure. I swear I lost half this dough down the sink from washing my hands so much. Sorry, drains.
So you mix the flour, water and sugar with *specifically* one hand. Don’t know why, but it’s handy (ha) because at least you don’t have BOTH hands clagged up and indisposed by super sticky dough. Unless of course you’re like me and end up sticking both hands in anyway in a show of real baking badassery.
After you knead it on a floured surface (for all the good that did….) it needs to rest for half an hour. I don’t actually know why this is. Normally with yeast bread it proves and grows, but without yeast it just kinda…sits there. At least I got to have a rest at the same time.
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I kinda cheated a bit on this. Not because I’m a wuss, but because I already have a lot of actual ghee in my fridge. The recipe wants you to make your own clarified butter by boiling and straining it, but why would I when I already have actual ghee that needs using up?!
Instead I melted the ghee in a pan and stirred in the garlic, simmering it for a while to infuse the butter with hella garlic flavours. We love garlic in our house, so the stronger the better!
Shaping the naans
A big fear I had was that the naans would end up looking like insoles instead of the classic teardrop shape. I mean, the two are kinda similar so it was a very real possibility.
You gotta tip the dough onto an oiled surface, then cut it into eight and shape it. Tipping wasu fine, but cutting proved difficult. None of my knives were sharp enough to really go through it, and guess what – the bugger stuck to the side. Stupid sticky dough.
Shaping was exactly as hard as I thought. The recipe says to roll this super sticky dough into a ball, then flatten it into the shape. WELL I am here to tell you that rolling sticky dough is IMPOSSIBLE if you don’t oil or flour your hands up first. AND they end up looking like insoles.
After shaping the first two I learnt my mistake and luckily the next six did not end up looking like insoles.
It’s super important to heat the tray under the grill before putting the dough on these to cook, to make sure both sides get colour to them.
I did this. But then I dilly dallied so much shaping the things that it got cold before going back in, so my naans ended up with real inconsistent colour. A no-no in the technical challenge. Not such a bummer when you’re just cooking them to be tasty in your own house.
They took MUCH longer than the few minutes the recipe called for, and I have no idea why. I would say that once they were actually done they were cooked good, so maybe they were too thick? Oh well, thick = more yummy bread.
The grill did have me on tenterhooks – food can go from pale to burnt so quickly under the grill than I was up and down checking alllll the time. Thankfully, I did not burn anything.
These naan breads were VERY YUMMY. I brushed each one on both sides with the garlic ghee mixture when they came out from the grill, very generously.
We cooked up a really tasty veggie curry to go with the naans and it worked so well. Despite the two insoles I’m super pleased with how these turned out, and I will probably even make them again sometime.
After the pistachio financial nightmare, it was nice to have a bake that I didn’t need to buy anything special for!