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.