Making bread at home intrigues you. You wonder what it’s like to mix bread and water and watch it become a dough. You want to feel that dough in your hands, you want to poke it and watch it spring back. But you don’t have an oven and you’re unsure about whether you really need one. After all, unless you have a lot of time on your hands, making bread will probably be a weekend or even a once-in-a-while activity.
Can you make bread without an oven? Sure, you can! Start by getting acquainted with flatbreads. There are so many and they are wonderful. And the best part? You can easily make them on a griddle or the stovetop. Alex has been making pita, tortilla and naan on the stovetop using a thick-bottomed frying pan.
What exactly is flatbread? It is, literally, what its name says it is — bread that’s flat. The thickness varies.
Flatbread is the original bread and it came long before the invention of stationary ovens.
People have been making flat breads for well over 6,000 years. The oldest baker’s oven in the world was known in Babylon in 4000 B.C. Flat bread was baked in hot ashes or on heated stone slabs in the old kingdom of Egypt as long ago as 2500 B.C.
Some flatbreads are made with yeast; others with just flour, water and salt. Leavened flatbreads (with yeast) include pita, naan and focaccia. Among the long list of unleavened flatbreads (without yeast) are pizza, tortilla, paratha, chapati and lavash. And those are just a few — the list of flatbreads is quite long.
Making leavened flatbread dough is not much different from making dough for loaf bread or buns. Yeast is sprinkled on warm water until active then flour and salt (and, often, sugar) are added and everything is mixed until the dough starts to come together. The dough is kneaded until it forms into a ball and is left to rise. The risen dough is deflated and cut into portions. Some flatbreads require a second rising; others do not.
- In the mixer bowl, stir together the honey and flour. Sprinkle in the yeast and leave for 10 minutes or until the yeast blooms and rises to the surface.
- With the dough hook attached, set the mixer to LOW. Add the yogurt, baking powder and egg. Add the flour little by little. Mix for about three minutes or just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Take the dough out of the bowl, form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and let the dough rise until doubled in volume.
- While the dough rises, place the butter and garlic in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds on HIGH (it may take longer depending on the wattage of your microwave) or just until the butter is melted. Stir. Let sit to allow the flavors to infuse.
- Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour, dump the risen dough on it and cut into eight to twelve equal portions depending on how large or small you want your garlic naan.
- Roll (yes, with a rolling pin) each portion until less than a quarter of an inch thin.
- Strain the butter and brush on both sides of each rolled dough.
- Set the stove to medium-high and heat a thick-bottomed pan. Depending on the size of your pan, cook the garlic naan in batches of one of two. Cook for one minute until bubble rise. Flip and cook the opposite side for another minute.
- Serve the garlic naan while hot. It's good with stews or soups. Or use as a wrap for just about any filling. You can even make flatbread pizza with your garlic naan.
Naan freezes well. Stack them with a sheet of greaseproof paper in between. Thaw and reheat in an oil-free pan until lightly crisp.