spelt skillet naan

spelt skillet naan

Naan, is probably the most popular menu item requested at my home whenever I invite guests over for an Indian meal. It has all the good qualities of a flatbread bread which in my opinion are: be able to sop up and grab curries, gravies and sauces or even morsels of vegetables or meat. I like my naans to be soft and tender in texture and blistered for that delicious caramelized flavor. There is also something wonderful to be said about preparing your own bread at home, be it in an oven or in a skillet. As the heat hits the dough, it brings about the warm nutty flavors of the grain, lending an aromatic sweetness to the air which makes it simply perfect. There are so many different kinds of wonderful flatbreads that are cooked in different cultures and hopefully, I will have tried my hand at making each and every one of them by some point in my life! 

spelt skillet naan

I've shared a few naan recipes here in the past and using my skillet still remains my favorite way to prepare them. This new version uses spelt flour, an ancient ancestor of modern day wheat. The addition of spelt to this recipe adds fiber and nutrients making these traditional Indian flatbreads a healthier option. Stick with the ratios for the two flours, here to get a soft naan. I would highly recommend using a food scale to weigh the flours, having a simple, good quality, reliable scale is really worth the investment. 

nigella and flour

In this recipe, I use a combination of sea-salt crystals and nigella seeds to season the naan. Alternatively, you can also use my cilantro-garlic butter seasoning to flavor the naans. It is completely up to you! This basic naan recipe also works well when you want to stuff the naans with vegetables like I did previously in these pumpkin naans. To cook the naans on the skillet, you can use either vegetable or melted butter, both work great and each gives it's own unique flavor to the bread.

spelt skillet naan with nigella

spelt skillet naan

yields : 12 naans

ingredients

9 1/4 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour + a little extra flour for rolling out the naans
9 1/4 ounces (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) spelt flour 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola oil) or melted butter for cooking the naans (you may end up using less of either to cook the naans)
1/4 cup sea salt crystals 
1/4 cup nigella seeds

1. Sift the 9 1/4 ounces of all-purpose and spelt flours, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add any grain bits that might be left behind back into the flour. Do this three times.
2. Add the sifted flour, eggs, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough blade attachment, combine the ingredients completely and mix on low speed until it comes together to form a ball of dough. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently knead the dough in the same bowl to form a ball. Brush the one tablespoon of oil over the dough, cover the dough with cling film and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours . 
3. Place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal parts using a knife or a pastry scraper. The dough will be slightly elastic. Take one part and roll it into a ball with your hands. Stretch the dough into a tear-drop shape by pulling it gently in one direction and using the base of your palm to hold it down at the opposite end. Each stretched out naan should not be too thin or it will tear. Sprinkle a little bit of the nigella seeds and sea salt over the surface of the naan (you can use as little or as much as you want with the nigella and salt, I personally tend to use less salt). Press the seeds and salt crystals into the naan by rolling the seasoned surface lightly with a rolling pin.
4. Heat a skillet with a tight fitting lid on a high flame, add one  teaspoon of oil and spread the oil by rotating the skillet with your hand. As soon as the oil is heat, slap the bottom surface (unseasoned side) of the naan directly on to the skillet. Cover the skillet immediately with the lid. This seals the steam in which is necessary to cook the naan and give it its characteristic blistered appearance. Drizzle another teaspoon of vegetable oil over the naan. After about 3-4 minutes, flip the naan and reduce the flame to a medium and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the hot naan and keep it covered between a layer of clean cloth or paper towels to absorb the steam. Serve hot/warm. Naan is best eaten the day it is prepared, however if you need to store them, wrap the flatbread between clean kitchen paper towel sheets and store in an airtight gallon ziploc bag. 

mini mulled wine apple spelt pies

mini spelt pies with mulled wine

Christmas involves a lot of baking at our home and I find myself trying out old and new techniques each year and developing new flavors that will make my holiday menu extra special. This year however, I am not hosting a dinner since we are traveling and the cooking requirements are significantly reduced. A week from now, we will be celebrating the holidays in California, it's a welcome change that we both need and a nice break from the cold and gloomy days here in D.C.  Plus, I get to meet up with my family and friends and eating a whole lot of food on this trip!

apples

However, what would Christmas be without baking a few holiday desserts and cookies! Apple pies are something I make every holiday season but this year, I've been working on a special type of crust, one that is wholegrain yet flaky and delicious but without the shortening. You will love this spelt crust, it is easy to prepare and work with and when it comes out of the oven you will want to grab a hot pie straight off the baking sheet. There's something comforting in eating a soft flaky pie crust, especially in cold weather. 
I've used coconut oil as a substitute for the shortening which works wonderfully in the dough. I used one of the tricks from Cook's Illustrated America's Test Kitchen to inhibit gluten formation in the dough by using a splash of vodka. 

ready to bake spelt apple pies

This apple pie filling represents some of my favorite holiday flavors that are absolutely wonderful! It has a mix of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples that are cooked with red wine and sweet ginger bits. And best of all you can add whatever mix of mulling spices that you love to flavor the wine. You probably won't end up using all the liquid to fill the pies so do what I did, save it as a sauce to pour over your breakfast pancakes or serve it as a sauce with some fresh fruit like pears for desserts! 

mulled wine apple pies with spelt

mini mulled wine apple spelt pies

mulled wine apple pie filling  

yields: about 2 - 21/2 cups 

ingredients

1 1/2 cups red wine (I used a Burgundy)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark honey
2 tablespoons mulling spice mix (of your choice)
1 lb yellow delicious apples, peeled and diced
1 lb granny smith apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) crystallized ginger bits

1. Pour the wine into a thick bottomed saucepan. Place the mulling spices into a muslin cloth bag or a piece of cheese cloth and tie it at the open end with a piece of kitchen string. Add the bag to the wine and bring the wine to a boil on a medium high flame, reduce to a gentle simmer and allow the wine to cook for 20 minutes or until it has reduced to 1/2 of its original volume.
2. Add the sugar, honey, apples, and ginger bits to the wine. Cook for another 30 minutes on a medium low flame until the apples are tender. The apples will release their liquid. Remove the muslin bag with the spices and discard. 
3. Remove the mulled wine apple pie filling and allow it to cool to room temperature before using it to fill the pies.

spelt pie pastry crust

yields: 8 X 4" pies

ingredients

1 1/4 cups (6 ounces) spelt flour
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour + a little extra flour to roll out the pastry
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped and chilled
8 tablespoons coconut oil, chilled and cut into bits
1/4 cup vodka, chilled
3 tablespoons water, chilled
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water

1. Pulse the flours, sugar and salt in a food processor for a few seconds to mix the dry ingredients. Randomly distribute the chopped butter and coconut oil over the dry ingredients. Pulse the ingredients twice for 30 seconds to mix the fat. Continue to pulse the ingredients and slowly drizzle the vodka and water into the food processor. Continue to pulse until the ingredients come together to form the pie dough. Remove the dough from the food processor, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 flat discs. Cover each with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour before use.
2. Remove and unwrap one disc. Place the disc on a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin flatten the disc out to a rough 12 inch circle. Cut 4 inch circles and place the circles on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining three pieces of dough. Any extra bits of unused dough can be combined, chilled and reused. You should get a total of 16 circles of pie pastry.
3. Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter (you can use any shape of cookie cutter here) cut out a star in the center of 8 of the 16 circles of pie pastry cut out earlier. Reserve the stars and keep aside these discs aside.
4. Place 1 generous tablespoon of the apple filling in the center of an uncut pie circle. Place and center one of the cut circles over the filling and seal the edges of the two discs by pressing lightly with the prongs of a fork. Repeat and prepare the rest of the pies. You can decorate the pies with the reserved cutout stars as you like. Chill the pies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes before baking.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly whisk the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Brush the surface of each pie with the yolk wash. Bake the pies for 25-30 minutes until the crusts are golden brown. Allow the pies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and serve warm.