Nángbĭng – Uyghur Flatbread #BreadBakers

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One of the things I enjoy most about baking is venturing into different cultures and learning about their histories and traditional foods. And so it goes with this bread, Nángbĭng, a traditional flatbread of the Uyghur (pronounced Wigger, at least according to a video I found online). Who, you may ask, are the Uyghur? Good question! So pay attention, class. There may be a quiz.

From Wikipedia (I know, I know. Shut up. The Uyghur American Society backs 'em up. So there.): The Uyhgur are a Turkic ethnic group, mostly Islamic, living in East and Central Asia, primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China, where they are one of 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities.

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Bread plays an important role in almost all ethnic cultures and for the Uyhgur, that bread is the flatbread they call nang (not sure where the "bing" part of the name comes in but lets roll with it.) According to Saveur, which is where I found this recipe, it's typically rolled out, sprinkled with seeds and spices (or not) and baked in a tandoor. It's also made with a flour that's lower in protein than the typical American all-purpose flour, and it's this lower gluten flour that gives the nang a fluffy texture. Of course, since most of us have access to neither Chinese flour nor to a tandoor (What? I don't have a tandoor?!? Well, not yet anyway…) the recipe is adapted to use a baking stone and a combination of all-purpose and pastry flours. 

I love flatbreads and this one was no exception. Easy and fun to make, with a great fluffy texture, it's best eaten warm (I slathered mine with hummus—very multi-cultural). It was also a good way for me to ease back into baking, which, frankly, hasn't gone so well for a while. Most of my attempts, in fact, ended up looking a lot like this flatbread only they weren't supposed to. There's a saying the food affects your mood but I can tell you for a fact that mood affects your food too. And my mood until recently has been pretty black, oh, since around November of 2016, if you get my not-so-subtle drift. So it's good to be back (ish). 

This nángbĭng is my entry for this month's BreadBakers theme: Flatbreads with yeast or starter, hosted by Sonia. Make sure you check out the list below to see what the rest of the crew baked up. They're a super talented and creative bunch.

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Nángbĭng – Uyghur Flatbread

Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. active dry yeast 
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2⁄3 cup pastry flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • Optional toppings: sesame seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, ground black pepper, sea salt

Directions

  1. Add the yeast, sugar and 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water to the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for about 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
  2. In a medium bowl stir together the flours, wheat germ and salt, then add to yeast mixture, along with the butter and oil.
  3. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until just combined, then switch to the dough hook and kned on medium speed until the dough is smooth, about 6–8 minutes. Cover the bowl, set aside and let rise at room temperature until doubled.
  4. Deflate the dough, then cover and let rise again until doubled. While the dough is rising, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat to 500°.
  5. After the dough has doubled for the second time, transfer to a floured board and divide it into 4 pieces. Round off the pieces, then cover and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  6. Using a rolling pin on a floured board, roll each piece into a 7" round and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the rounds and let rise for about 30 minutes.
  7. Right before baking, prick the rounds all over, then brush with water and sprinkle on any toppings.
  8. Slide the rounds onto the baking stone, bake for 3–5 minutes or until the edges are just browned.
  9. These breads are best served warm.

Recipe source: Saveur

Notes

The original recipe says to add the salt in with the yeast, sugar and water mix but this just about killed me dead. All I could hear in my head was "YOU'LL KILL THE YEAST! YOU'LL KILL THE YEAST!"—a warning that's the bread baking equivalent of "You'll shoot your eye out!" I'm mean, that's a helluva lot of salt, so not wanting to be a yeast killer, I added it in with the flours instead, it worked just fine and I can sleep at night.

I only had whole wheat pastry flour on hand and I didn't feel like schlepping out to the store AGAIN so I rolled with it, no prob. I did find the dough to be very sticky though, so I added about another tablespoon of flour during the mix.

I baked in two batches, sliding the rounds and the parchment onto the baking stone. About 2 minutes in, I slid them off the parchment directly onto the stone to finish the bake.

I use a wide-tooth comb as a docking tool. Works great and it's a lot cheaper than a docker. It's probably the first time I opted for cheap over a gadget. Go me!

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#BreadBakers for April: Flatbreads with Yeast or Starter

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. Big thanks go to this month's hosts Sonia at Sonlicious and Stacy at Food Lust People Love.

 

 

Scallion Pancakes #BreadBakers

Pregnancy will do strange things to a person. (And right about now, I'm picturing everyone who knows me going "Wha...? Wait! You're not… You can't be…" Simmer down, people. I'm not and I can't be—unless I'm some kind of medical miracle. I just needed an intro here, k?) I mean, aside from the general weirdness of hosting a potential little human bean inside you a la "Alien," I'm thinking specifically about the pregnancy/food connection. Inexplicable cravings for things you'd never otherwise touch (thankfully, I had no cravings that I can recall). Sudden aversions to things you used to love and to THAT I can relate because it hit me hard in one instance—Chinese food. I LOVED Chinese food. Takeout places were legion where we lived (the giant ethnic melting pot of Queens, NY) and we tried them all. We were regulars at New York's Chinatown, too just a quick subway ride away. (Wo Hop for the win!) But pretty much the second I found out I was pregnant, all bets were off. The smell, the taste, the very thought of Chinese food brought on an epic queasiness that still makes me shudder 25 years later. And now that I think of it, I've never really gotten the love back. An entire cuisine condemned by the raging hormones of pregnancy. But there was one exception to the Chinese food ban that for some inexplicable reason didn't make me want to hurl. Scallion pancakes. 

I loved them then, I love them now. Some people say that the mark of a good chef is one's ability to make an omelet. I say the mark of good Chinese (or Chinese-American, since it's really become a cuisine unto itself) restaurant is the quality of its scallion pancakes. It seems like it should be an easy thing but so many places get it inexplicably WRONG—at least in my humble, non-Chinese opinion. Crispy and chewy at the same time, layer upon thin layer of flaky, savory goodness…a scallion pancake is a thing of beauty.

They're also very easy—and quick—to make at home, no need to wait for delivery. The dough is very simple, just flour and boiling water. (Can we talk about the awesomeness of hot water dough? I love the feel of it, silky smooth and elastic. It's a dream to work with.) And there's no need to wait while the dough proofs—there's just a short rest before rolling and you can use the time to prep the rest of the ingredients—or to preheat the oven because these are cooked on a griddle. That's the kind of (near) instant gratification that warms the cockles of my impatient little heart. You neeeeeed these, you really do. Pregnant or not.

These pancakes are my contribution to this month's #BreadBakers theme: Griddle Breads. Don't forget to check out the links below to see what the other BreadBakers came up with—they're an incredibly creative bunch. And thanks Ansh for hosting!

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients

Pancakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • toasted sesame oil (for brushing the dough)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced scallions (green part only)
  • 1/4 (or more as needed) vegetable oil (for cooking the pancakes)
  • kosher or flaked sea salt (optional, for sprinkling)

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ginger root, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Directions

  1. Add the flour to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Turn the machine on and slowly add about 3/4 of the water and continue to process until the dough comes together and rides the blade. Add more water a little at a time if needed.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth ball. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting prepared the dipping sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. Once the dough has rested, divide it into four pieces. Form each piece (keep the ones you're not working with covered) into a ball, then on a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly and roll into a circle at 8" across. 
  6. Brush the surface of the circle with a thin coating of sesame oil, then roll up the circle jelly-roll style, twist the roll into a coil, flatten and roll out again into an 8" circle.
  7. Brush again with sesame oil and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the sliced scallions evenly over the top. Roll up into a jelly roll again, then into a spiral, flatten and roll out into a 7" circle. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  8. Heat the oil in a cast-iron griddle or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, carefully add one pancake at a time and cook for about 2 minutes until the pancake is golden brown, shaking the pan to ensure even cooking. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle with salt if desired and cover while you cook the remaining pancakes. Cut into six wedges and serve (the sooner the better to retain crispness).

From the Food Lab at Serious Eats

Notes

I always had trouble rolling things into a circle. Mine always looked like oblongs until I found out I was doing it wrong. To keep the circle shape, slightly flatten the ball of dough, then roll from the center to the edge (but not OVER the edge), then give the round a quarter turn, roll from the center to the edge again, lather, rinse, repeat. Lightly flour the surface if needed to keep the dough from sticking. I get perfect circles every time.

When rolling and coiling the pancakes, the tighter the better. Don't go nuts, but the tighter the roll, the more flaky layers you'll get.

A tortilla warmer is great for keeping pancakes warm while you cook. Another use for a single-use gadget. Alton Brown would be proud.

#BreadBakers: Hot Off the Griddle

This month's BreadBakers' theme is Griddle Breads—roti, crumpets, English muffins…any breads made on a griddle—hosted by Anshie at Spice Roots. Here's what our creative bakers came up with.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers
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Senbei – Japanese Rice Crackers #TwelveLoaves

Last week, after much angsty carrying on, I had to face up to the fact that the trusty car that had seen me through 11 years and 155,000+ miles was finally at the end of its road—and after a tearful (really) farewell, I'm now the nervous owner of a brand-new car. Eep. Now, normal people would be very excited by this—lots of spiffy new gadgety things to marvel over, better gas mileage, smoother ride, new car smell and whatnot. I, however, was far more excited by the discovery of a HUGE Asian market right next door to the dealership.*  Seriously, the announcement that all signs pointed to the discovery of water on Mars paled in comparison to the thrill I felt when I discovered this market. We're talking big market here. Major. Row upon row, case upon case of stuff I can't pronounce or even recognize but know I HAVE to have. Up til now, I've had very little made-by-loving-hands-at-home experience with the wide range of Asian cuisines (mostly Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai), mainly because I never had the right stuff at hand. Or a place to find the right stuff. (I'll hop the train to NYC at the drop of a hat for off-the-wall or ethnic foods that I can't find on Long Island, but for some reason, I've always been intimidated by Chinatown.) But no more! H&Y's got it all. And the list of things I want to make with my new-found bounty has grown exponentially. 

These crackers, for instance—Senbei, Japanese rice crackers. Crackers, flatbreads and crisps are the theme for this month's #TwelveLoaves challenge, chosen by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, and I was all set to make my favorite vegetable crackers from Ivy Manning's Crackers & Dips (a must-have for all you cookbook collectors), when I spotted these beauties while paging through the book. Japanese crackers? That required the purchase of new stuff from my newly-discovered Asian grocery? Where I could drive in my new car? Okay!

Senbei are my kind of cracker—super thin, super crispy, super crunchy, super full of flavor. And like most crackers, because they're so small, they're super low in calorie so you can eat tons of them and never gain an ounce. (That's how it works with small stuff, right? RIGHT?) They're also super fun to make—not at all as fiddly as I feared. The dough is rather crumbly but when you press down firmly, it holds together quite well. And while you can certainly roll them out or press them with a flat-bottomed glass, a tortilla press—this is a very multi-ethnic cracker experience—is really key to getting them as thin as possible.

Of course, if you've got a cracker, you need something to put on it and edamame hummus was an obvious choice—keeping with the whole Japanese theme. I'm a huge fan of hummus and while I've made it with all sorts of things, edamame was something I'd never tried before. Honestly? It was one of my best hummuses (hummi?) ever. THAT good, with just enough wasabi for a nice kick without clearing your sinuses.

These crackers are definitely one to try. The furikake (Japanese seasoning) is probably the only thing you might not find in your local market but it's readily available online, so you don't even need a big Asian grocery or a new car to get the job done. Although the latter IS nice...

Don't forget to check out the links below to see what the other TwelveLoafers came up with for this month's cracker, flatbreads and crisps theme. And thanks, Camilla, for hosting!

*Don't get me wrong, it's not that having a new car isn't great—Like, what am I? Stupid?—but there's this pesky thing called PAYING FOR IT that kind of takes the edge off the celebration, dammit.

Senbei – Japanese Rice Crackers

Ingredients

Glaze

  • 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • pinch of salt (optional)

Dough

  • 120g / 3/4 cup sweet rice flour (mochi)
  • 40g / 1/3 cup cooked white rice (I used sushi rice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral flavored oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

Directions

  1. Prep steps: Preheat your oven to 305°F, with a rack in the middle, and line two baking sheets with parchment. Take a quart-size plastic storage bag (freezer bags are best), cut off the zipper top and down both sides, leaving the bottom seam intact.
  2. For the glaze, in a small bowl, stir the soy sauce and mirin together, adding a pinch of salt to taste if you like. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the rice flour, cooked rice, sea salt, oil, and soy sauce and process until the mixture is finely ground.
  4. While the processor is running, slowly add the water and process until the dough is crumbly.
  5. Transfer to a large bowl, add in the furikake and knead the dough to incorporate. The dough will be somewhat oily and crumbly but holds together when pressed firmly.
  6. Sandwich a rounded teaspoon size dough ball in the plastic bag, then place in a tortilla press to flatten into a round. (Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin or flatten the dough using a flat-bottomed glass, but whatever method you use, you want to press the crackers as thin as possible.)
  7. Carefully peel the dough round off the plastic and place on the prepared backing sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Bake the sheets one at a time for about 8 minutes. The crackers will look a bit dry around the edges. Carefully turn the crackers, then return to the oven for about another 8 minutes, until they're beginning to brown.
  9. Remove the crackers from the oven and cool for a few minutes, until you can handle them without burning your fingers. Brush each cracker with the soy-mirin glaze, then return to the oven for another 2–3 minutes. Watch them carefully so the glaze doesn't burn. When ready, the crackers will look shiny and feel dry to the touch.
  10. Cool the crackers on a wire rack (they get crispier as they cool). Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 40 crackers.

Notes

Bob's Red Mill's sweet rice flour is fairly easy to find and that's what I used here. Mochiko Blue Star Brand is a Japanese rice flour that should be available in most Asian stores. I have that also but used Bob's since it was already open. Waste not, want not. Or something like that.

You could certianly roll the crackers with a rolling pin or use a glass to flatten them, but the tortilla press is definitely the way to go if you've got one (and if you don't, it's a great excuse to buy one. GADGETS RULE!) It's fast, efficient and really gets the dough rounds as thin as they can go. I pressed each one about three times, rotating the plastic each time.

I weighed out each bit of dough rather than use a teaspoon—I'm a scale nerd. Each bit was between 7–8 grams (total weight of the dough/40).

The time for setting the glaze is approximate. I baked the first batch for 3 minutes, but the glaze was still somewhat tacky and the crackers stuck together a bit when stacked. I baked the second batch a bit longer—probably just under 4 minutes total—kept an eye on things so they didn't burn, and the glaze was shiny and dry with no sticking. I ended up popping the first batch back in so they dried out as well.

Adapted from Crackers & Dips: More Than 50 Handmade Snacks by Ivy Manning

Edamame Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (fresh or frozen–if frozen thaw completely)
  • 3-4 tbsp. tahini
  • 2–3 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. canola or other neutral flavored oil
  • 1/2–1 tsp wasabi paste (not powder) or to taste
  • pinch of salt or to taste
  • Water or additional lemon juice as needed to thin

Directions

  1. Place the edamame in the your food processor and pulse until somewhat smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add water or additional lemon juice as needed to achieve your preferred consistency.
  3. Adjust the wasabi and salt to taste.

Notes

I think hummus is one of those things where a recipe is really just a jumping off point. I've given basic ingredients here but feel free to wing it to suit your taste. If you want to get knocked off your chair by the wasabi, bring it on! Love the lemon? Add more. Like a more rustic hummus? Super smooth? It's up to you. Just taste as you go and check the consistency so you don't go past the point of no return.


About #TwelveLoaves

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and runs smoothly with the help of Heather of girlichef, and the rest of our fabulous bakers.

Our host this month is Camilla from Culinary Aventures with Camilla, and our theme is Crackers, Crisps, and Flatbreads. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves enter last month's #TwelveLoaves Seeded Breads!

If you'd like to bake along with us this month, share your Crackers, Crisps, and Flatbreads using hashtag #TwelveLoaves!