All Purpose Vegan Flatbread (Naan)

I’m obsessed with this flatbread. It’s so good, and so easy you’ll be looking for excuses to make it. I first made it to go with vegan curry for a meatless monday and fell in love with its soft and pillowy texture. Now I use it for everything from chicken shawarma to grilled pizza. The dough is based on naan or roti, but uses coconut milk in place of the yogurt and eggs. D. and I have some dairy sensitivity, so I always have a can or two of coconut milk in my pantry. Turns out it has just the right balance of sweetness, moisture, and fat to substitute the dairy and eggs, and I think it makes a flatbread with better chew, flavor, and texture, that’s vegan too.

The recipe uses only 6 ingredients (plus water) and doesn’t really require any special equipment. You can add chopped garlic or herbs, but you won’t miss them. A stand mixer is nice, but you won’t need it. A char-grill makes them extra puffy, but you can get good results with a cast iron pan or griddle too. The steps are easy: Just mix the dough, knead 6-8 minutes, rise 1 hour, divide and proof 30 minutes, then shape and grill. If you have the time, I highly recommend retarding the dough after the first hour rise, by leaving it in the fridge overnight. This process improves the flavor and texture of any bread by extending the fermentation time and allowing the yeast to develop slowly. It takes a little planning but it’s worth it. Then the next day just pull the dough out of the fridge 1 to 2 hours before you need it, and give it time to come up to room temperature and finish proofing.

This flatbread also keeps really well. I recently grilled a batch and left it uncovered at room temperature for four hours and they stayed fresh and pliable. So I wrapped the leftovers and chucked them in the fridge. Four days later, I unwrapped them, warmed them for about 3-5 minutes in a 325 degree oven, and they came out just as good as the day they were made.

Ingredients, for 8

2 tsp. (12 g)Instant dry yeast
1 cup (240 g)Warm water
2 Tbsp. (25 g)Granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 g)Coconut milk
4 tsp. (11-12 g)Kosher salt*
4 cup (540 g)All purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 g)Olive oil
*Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Reduce volume for Morton’s or fine salt.

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix yeast with water.  Let it proof for about 5 minutes until it starts to foam. Mix in the sugar, coconut milk, salt, and flour, and knead 8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.  Oil the bowl and return the dough, turning it once to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 hour until it is just doubled.
  3. Punch the dough down and divide it into 8 balls for a large flatbread or 12 for small.  Arrange them 2” apart on a tray lined with parchment and dusted with a little flour. Brush each piece lightly with olive oil.  Cover and proof 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Preheat your grill or griddle to medium temperature.  If the dough has been refrigerated, allow 1-2 hours for it to come to room temperature and finish proofing before shaping. The dough should be about 1-1/2 times original size, and relaxed enough to stretch without springing back.
  5. Lightly oil the hot grill.  Set up an area near the grill to roll and cook the flatbread.  Working one piece at a time, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and stretch or roll it into a disc 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  Cook the flatbread 2-3 minutes on each side until it is golden brown and fluffy. Brush flatbread lightly with olive oil as it comes off the grill.  Repeat with each piece of dough.
  6. The flatbread is best served warm or room temperature.  Once cooled, you can store it wrapped in the fridge for 4 or 5 days.  To reheat, arrange them in one layer directly on the middle rack of a 325 degree oven for 3-5 minutes.  Wrap reheated flatbreads in foil to keep them soft and pliable.  Don’t use the microwave.  It is not kind to breads.

2 thoughts on “All Purpose Vegan Flatbread (Naan)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: