I made pizza last night, the best food for a herd of kids at a sleepover. Let them roll their own dough and burn off some of that frenzy that comes from being together.
Half the dough was leftover in the fridge from Wednesday, which was World Bread Day. The idea behind this day is to show gratitude for the fact that we have sufficient food by baking. Since 2006, bloggers have baked bread and blogged about it on October 16th. Facebook told me about the event on the day, so I could not participate in it officially – you have to blog about it the day of – but here is my belated, unruly contribution.
I am in awe of wheat. Last night I kept myself up reading about wheat production in America in the 1910s and 1920s. This is what led to the agricultural interventions that led to the Farm Bill, and I have got to find some duller bedtime reading.
That we can have wheat in so many ways, pasta, pies, bread, even soft soft storebought loaves in plastic sleeves, is a terrific thing. Quality and healthiness is questionable in all these foods, but still, wheat is worthy of our attention.
Wheat and barley are some of the first plants that hunter gatherers domesticated in the Fertile Crescent. I am not sure whether cereal grains domesticated us or we domesticated them, but I am stunned by flour. Especially the flours I get from people I’ve met and mills I’ve visited.
So on World Bread Day I knew I’d use Farmer Ground Flour, whose fields, farmer and miller I know, to make naan. The question was what recipe. Most recipes had baking powder and maybe baking soda in addition to yeast. I could find no explanation for these extra leaveners, and I couldn’t imagine anything but taste would last after the rising time, so I didn’t want to use them.
So finally I remembered a recipe I got at The Kneading Conference in July. Naomi Duguid and Dawn Woodward taught a workshop on breads from the Tandoor oven, and I came home with a Xerox of a recipe for Snowshoe Naan. You can find that recipe more easily than I did, and lots and lots of pictures, here, on Evelyn’s Crackers website. (Dawn runs this Toronto based cracker company, which uses heritage grains.)
I made the naan with Felix, who was happy to have dough to handle. We didn’t have time to make all the dough that night, so it went into the fridge, to be remembered Saturday afternoon.
There wasn’t enough dough, I made some extra from my standard pizza starting point. I always use a recipe for pita bread from Baking with Julia, a cookbook that taught me tons about baking. I loved having a chance to do a side by side comparison.
The main difference in these doughs is yogurt and time. Funny, I thought the old dough would be less than wonderful, even though I know that long fermentations can benefit dough. As I took them off the tray, I worried that the crust wasn’t done because it was so floppy. I loved the pizza the kids made from the leftover dough.
I can’t get over the taste and feel of it. The yogurt in the dough really softened things – proteins? Time probably did a lot of work, too. From now on, I am going to make Naomi Duguid’s naan for pizza. And try to make it soon enough in advance so that it rests a few days in the fridge. Supreme.
RECIPE: Homestyle Snowshoe Naan Minus the Tandoor for Pizza
This is Naomi Duguid’s recipe for Homestyle Snowshoe Naan (adapted from Flatbreads and Flavors) made with instant yeast, and my instructions for pizza prep.
- 1½ cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon yeast, instant or not
- 2 cups whole wheat bread flour
- 1 cup whole milk yogurt
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3-4 cups all purpose flour
- Put yeast, water and whole wheat flour in a bowl and stir well. (If you are using non-instant yeast, let the water and yeast proof for 5 minutes first.)
- Let this mixture rest at least a half hour and up to three hours. Add yogurt, salt and the all purpose flour cup by cup, and mix very well. Knead for 5-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Put in a bowl, covered with a plate, and let rest in a warm place for 2 hours. Put in a plastic container with some room – about a third extra – for mild expansion.
- Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Warm on the counter for 2 hours prior to rolling thin for pizza.
Note: if you like bread and haven’t found Naomi Duguid yet, seek her out. Her books and classes are generous and beautiful.