Nan e Barbari is a Persian flatbread that is, from what I've read on the interwebs, traditionally served at breakfast in Iran with a soft spread such as goat cheese. It is made from a very high hydration dough, but is fairly easy to work with because it is a flatbread... I mean, you don't have to worry about forming it into a loaf and hoping that it will hold its shape.
It's somewhat like focaccia but without the olive oil. Instead, it is brushed with a sauce called "Romal," which consists of a boiled mixture of water, a bit of flour, and baking soda. The yeast in the bread is also boosted by baking powder, so the bread doesn't need a long time to develop wonderful "air."
Oh, and it develops amazingly wonderful flavor for a bread that is made so quickly (a generous sprinkling of black sesame, poppy, flax, and baby sunflower seeds helps).
This month, the Bread Baking Babes are baking Nan e Barbari, and I am participating as a Buddy. The recipe was chosen by Elizabeth at Blog from Our Kitchen. Visit her post to see how she make the bread, and for links to all of the Babes' versions of this bread. Elizabeth actually baked the bread on the grill. How cool is that?
Instead of barbecuing the bread, I used the convection setting on my oven along with a pizza stone that was preheated to 500 degrees F. The bread is wet enough with the Romal, so I skipped using steam. As you can see, the bread got nice and burnished. The aroma as it was baking was amazing. This is one of those breads that you want to stick your face close to just to inhale its fresh baked goodness (bread geeks do this).
We tried the bread warm with some Boursin and loved it. So good. I will definitely make this one again.
Nan e Barbari Recipe
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 C lukewarm (90 - 100 degrees F) filtered water
60 g whole wheat flour
360 g unbleached all purpose flour plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 g (one tsp) salt (preferably fine sea salt)
Romal (to brush the dough
1/2 tsp unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 C water
1/2 tsp baking soda
Seeds of your choice such as sesame, poppy, or nigella. I used black sesame, regular sesame, poppy, flax, and a few baby sunflower seeds.
- Add the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk in the water.
- Add the rest of the dough ingredients and stir together.
- Mix with the dough hook on low medium speed for about 10 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and do a "stretch and fold" with your wet hand and a wet dough scraper by pulling the four "sides" of the dough out to the side and folding it over onto the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the "stretch and fold" two more times in 10 minute intervals. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and cover.
- Place the dough in a warm place and allow it to rise until more than doubled, about an hour or so.
- While the dough is rising, bring the Romal ingredients to a boil, whisk, and allow to cool.
- Lightly flour your countertop and gently dump the dough onto the surface. Cut the dough into two pieces with a wet dough scraper. Form the two pieces into loose balls (keep a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands to keep the dough from sticking).
- Place two 13 inch by 9 inch pieces of parchment on a sturdy cookie sheet and sprinkle them with corn meal or polenta.
- Place the dough balls on the parchment pieces and brush them with the cooled Romal.
- Using your fingers, gently press down on the dough to create lengthwise furrows in the dough, pushing the dough to create a rectangle. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven with a pizza stone to 500 degrees F.
- After 30 minutes, using wet hands, pull the dough to stretch it further lengthwise. Brush it with the Romal, and press the furrows again with your fingers to re-emphasize the rows. Sprinkle with some of the seeds and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let it sit for 30 more minutes.
- Brush the loaves with any remaining Romal, press your fingers into the furrows to re-emphasize, and sprinkle with more seeds.
- Place the cookie sheet on top of the baking stone, close the oven door, and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. I used the convection setting. Note: Make sure your cookie sheet is heavy duty so it won't warp. I used a heavy duty Vollrath.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
- Remove the parchment and place the loaves on a cooling rack. Enjoy warm.