Make your own Naan bread!

I have found some of my favorite recipes while developing cooking programs for kids. We recently made Naan bread during an international dinner class and Oh My Goodness was it good!!! We accidentally added about an ounce of yeast instead of the .25 ounce indicated in the recipe.  It still turned out great- The dough was fun to knead and very soft and smooth.  Proofs bigger and the texture  and taste of cooked bread may be a little different than if you use the recipe amount of yeast.  The students enjoyed rolling it out and cooking it (with butter!) on a grill pan.  I can see how this bread recipe could be adapted to include other spices and herbs along with the garlic that’s included.  This recipe is from




Amish-Style Soft Pretzels were a hit at my house.

I learned how to make these yummy pretzels at Culinary School.  My family gobbled them up!  These taste a little different from “regular” German-style pretzels which are often dipped in a lye bath prior to baking.  This Amish-style is brushed in a simple baking soda solution.  They are soft, buttery and so delicious.  Enough talk.. let’s start making pretzels!

Note:  When you are baking, it is recommended to measure ingredients by weight but if that’s just too far out of your comfort zone, I have estimated the volume measure equivalents)

Amish-Style Pretzels

pretzel15 oz. water (a little more than 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 oz. active dry yeast  (about 4.75 tsp.)
1 lb. 2 oz. bread flour  (4 cups)
6 oz. pastry flour (rounded 1 cup plus 1/3 cup)
** all purpose flour will work for both amounts if you can’t find the other kinds.  The texture may  not be as chewy
1/4 oz. salt (1/2 Tbsp)
1/2 oz. sugar. (about 1 Tbsp)
Soda Wash:
12 oz. water (1 1/2 cups)
1.5 oz. baking soda (3 Tbsp)

Course Sea salt for sprinkling and melted butter for dipping

Place the yeast in a mixing bowl and add 2 ounces of 110 degree water.  Use a thermometer and get the water to 110 degrees before adding to the yeast.  Whisk the yeast and water to dissolve.  Let it sit in the bowl for 3-5 minutes.  Add flours, salt, sugar and the rest of the water to the bowl.  Using a dough hook on your mixer, mix on medium speed 9 minutes.  Dough should be firm but pliable. If dough is really soft, add a little more flour and mix for a couple more minutes.  Remove dough from the mixing bowl and place in a shallow bowl, turning top of dough down towards the bottom of bowl.  Cover with a towel and let it ferment in a warm place until it is doubled in size and the dough springs back slowly when touched.  I like to put my dough bowl in a cold oven over a bowl of hot steaming water to simulate a proof box environment.  After fermentation, fold the dough in from each side to expel gas and distribute gluten.  Cut dough into 5 oz. pieces and roll each piece into a ball, letting sit on the counter under parchment paper as you work.  Wait 5 minutes after you’re done rolling to start working with the dough again.  Starting with the first dough pieces you rolled, use the palms of your hands to roll a 30 inch long strip.  Twist into a pretzel shape and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Stretch the pretzel out a little when it gets on the pan.  Brush pretzels thoroughly with the soda wash.  Sprinkle with sea salt.    Bake at 500 degrees for 8-9 minutes until well-browned.  Dip in melted butter after baking and drain on cooling racks.  Makes 10-12 pretzels.

Baking Tips

Challah Here are some tips I’ve collected from texts, trials and favorite chefs that might get a rise out of you!

  • When baking cookies, Chef P says if you’re not serving them that day, store them in the freezer (after cooling) and let them thaw before serving.  You can ice, decorate, sprinkle or whatever once they are thawed. Cookies start to stale almost immediately and freezing keeps them fresher longer.
  • Always refrigerate opened yeast.
  • When making yeast bread, activate the dry yeast in 110 degree F. water.  It makes a difference!
  • Don’t add the salt directly on top of the yeast, put it on top of the flour.  Salt kills yeast.
  • You know your yeast bread is done when you thump the bottom of the bread and it sounds hollow.  If you can’t thump it, check the temperature and it’s done at 210 degrees.
  • Be sure to adhere to mixing, fermentation and proofing instructions. Most yeast doughs should be mixed with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes to develop the gluten.
  • Before baking yeast breads, consider washing the dough with egg white and water for a shiny, crisp crust or whole egg and milk for a golden, soft crust.
  • Don’t adjust dry ingredient amounts in baking formulas.  It’s a science!
  • When baking with chocolate chips, nuts, berries, etc. toss them in flour before adding to mixture.  It will keep them from sinking to the bottom.
  • For the best baked product end-result, consider weighing ingredients instead of using measuring cups.  Only water, egg and milk is measured by volume in a real bake shop.
  • Move baked breads and muffins to a cooling rack as soon as possible to keep the bottoms from getting soggy.
  • Never submerge a rolling pin in water. It can get inside the well and leak out onto later batches of dough.
  • When baking bread loaves, make small cuts or “score” the top of the dough to keep loaf from splitting when baked.
  • If you’re using a shortening-based cake icing, add a little lemon juice to improve the “mouthfeel” of the icing.
  • Don’t store your bread and muffins in the refrigerator.  Keep lightly covered at room temperature for a day or just bake and freeze, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and inside a freezer bag.  Let thaw at room temp and refresh in the oven.  Refrigerate only baked goods containing cream fillings.  The fridge dries out baked goods.
  • When bread is properly proofed and ready to bake, it springs back slowly when touched.
  • Use cake flour only for cakes and pasty flour only for pastries.  Bread flour is a high-gluten flour you can use for making yeast breads.  All-purpose flour is a cross between pastry and bread flour so you can use for many types of baked goods.  Cake flour makes cakes tender and fine-crumbed.
  • Only use your mixer whip attachment for foaming egg whites and cream.  The paddle should be used for everything else, except mixing dough!  That’s for the dough hook.