daniel(le): starting the new year off right

Here is something I've learned about myself: I am much more of a baker than I am a cook. Scones? No problem. Cookies? Easy. Cake? Sure, except at midnight after yoga. Bread? Conquered.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm awful at cooking, like I previously thought. It's just that I am usually cooking only for myself, and at the end of a workday, I don't want to get much more labor-intensive than pasta and some fake-meat sauce. (I do have Judith Jones' The Pleasures of Cooking for One on my reading list, though, so we'll see if that changes anything.)

It's just that, I don't know, I prefer working with flour and sugar and eggs, I guess. I even like kneading. I like feeling the dough take shape under the wooden spoon, and then in my hands. There is something very satisfying to me about baking. I love watching things rise - either from yeast working its magic or just from the heat in the oven.

So Daniel and I make a pretty good team, as I've probably mentioned before, seeing as how he is really quite good at all of that cooking stuff. And when we get an idea into our heads, we make it happen.

And, if I may say so myself, usually to outstanding success.

This time it started with na'an. I suggested that I might try my hand at it to Daniel, and the beginnings for a fantastic Indian dinner were underway. We picked a day, gathered ingredients, and set to work. Na'an can be a little tricky - it requires a baking stone, or at least a baking sheet standing in for one, and very high heat. It took a deal of teamwork to get the dough into and out of the oven. (Big props to C.T. and Johanna!) The end result, however, really does pull the meal together - plus, who doesn't love fresh-baked bread of any kind? (Monsters, that's who.)

Garlic Na'an
adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter, melted

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Add in the yogurt, olive oil, and water. Mix well until a ball of dough starts to form. Turn out onto a flat surface to knead for 10 minutes. If the dough has problems coming together or staying together, knead in a teaspoon or two of yogurt. This should help - if not, add a teaspoon or two of water. Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled bowl and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Move one of the oven racks to the lowest rung. Preheat oven to 475°F. If you're using a baking stone, go ahead and throw that in. If, however, you are like me and are using a baking sheet, wait until five minutes before you place the na'an in to put the sheet in on the lowest rack, upside down.

Punch down the dough and split into four pieces. Roll each piece into a bowl and let rise another 10 minutes. Use a rolling pin to flatten each piece into an oval. Brush the melted butter over them and sprinkle the chopped garlic on top. It's time to place them in the oven! I did two at a time, since that's as many as I could fit on the sheet without them touching.

Carefully remove and let cool before enjoying!


  1. jer makes awesome channa masala! i can give you the recipe!!

  2. haha, now that you mention it, I think you might have when you sent me that cute little book! I'll have to go check - if not, I'd love to have it!