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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sourdough starter Naan

Sourdough Naans without the spotty burnt marks. Sear them on a hot pan for effect.

There are a few problems when making sourdough bread.  In the process of waking up a chilled sourdough starter and bringing it back to strength, a fair bit of starter is 'wasted'. While I know the possible consequences of a  monster dough growing in my kitchen, it goes against my thrifty grain to discard the active starter.

Furthermore, it takes about 5  days  from the waking of the starter to obtaining an edible sourdough , if I am to follow Eric Kastel's instruction in 'Artisan Bread'. Waste not, want not - I took pity on the homeless starter and fed it with the ingredients below, in the hope of salvaging it and giving it a new lease of life. An immediate solution is to make naan flatbread out of this excess starter. I have a choice of using mainly whole wheat or atta flour or bread flour. This version uses bread flour , which yields a flatbread version. For the purpose of authenticity, I also tried with whole wheat, which needs a little more water, takes longer to rise and is more robust in taste. Take your pick, but I like them all.

Makes 3 big Naans.
Soft and pliable flatbread - not your usual  Indian Naan

1  cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup cold yogurt
1/4 - 1/2 cup tepid water
1 cup plain flour
2 cups bread flour/ atta flour
2 T olive oil
Pinch of salt
Garlic salt for garnish

Mix starter, yogurt, water, salt until it is homogenous. Gradually add flour and mix until well combined, adjusting water  until the dough can be handled easily.

Knead for 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Coat with olive oil and leave aside in a covered container to ferment for at least 3 hours.

3 hours later ….

Divide the dough into 6 portions using a dough cutter. Leave it for 10 minutes.

Shape naan using a rolling pin.  Let it rest for 60 minutes.

Meanwhile , preheat the oven to 180 C.

Just before baking, brush the surface of the naan with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Spray a fine mist over the naan before putting it into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes for a soft naan and 13 minutes for a crispier option. I prefer the softer version because it makes for better keeping and reheating if there are leftovers.

Brush with butter and serve with your favorite curry.

Evaluation :
10 minutes at 180 C yields a very tender Naan, dotted by sporadic air pockets so characteristic of sourdough. The baked result has a mildly chewy texture that yields to the tooth quite easily and has a delicate tang derived from the yogurt and starter - quite sensational and vaguely Western-Orient fusion in character. And yes, when I do my last starter feed tomorrow, there's going to be another 6 naans , maybe this time with wasabi flavor for a Japanese twist.

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