Baking is an exact science—but this naan recipe is foolproof.
For those that love it, baking bread is a romantic activity. A flour-strewn kitchen and the yeasty smell of a loaf in the oven conjure images of a quiet, provincial life. But here's the catch: bread is actually pretty hard to make. Sometimes it doesn’t rise and you don’t really know why. Sometimes it rises too much and overflows all over your counter. Sometimes, in some sort of Great British Bake Off-style nightmare, it’s crispy crusty on the outside and totally raw on the inside. Paul Hollywood does not approve.
If you've experienced any of these, Ludo Lefebvre feels your pain. “To do your own bread is very technical, it takes time, and you need to have a lot of space." And yet, French chef that he is, he says, “I want to do my own bread.” Of course, getting your hands dirty and working for two days on a sublime sourdough can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in the kitchen. But for all the times you don’t feel like doing that, Ludo’s go-to is this simple naan. “It’s fun, you do it with your kid, you grill them,” he says. “It’s not really brain surgery.”
Start by mixing the dry ingredients in a bowl: all purpose flour, salt, dry yeast, black sesame seed, baking powder, and vadouvan (a popular French curry mix). The wet ingredients—milk, yogurt, grapeseed oil, honey, eggs—go in the bowl of a stand mixer. Begin to mix the wet ingredients with the bread hook attachment, slowly adding the dry ingredients to the wet until lumps form and the flour is fully incorporated. At this point, stop mixing and finish by hand—you don’t want to overwork this dough, just make sure it’s all pressed together before refrigerating overnight.
The next morning, your dough will be ready to go—it’s perfect for weekend grill sessions, but those without an outdoor grill can griddle theirs on a hot, dry skillet. Divide the chilled dough into manageable portions, rolling each into a ball and pressing with the heel of your hand. “You don’t want the naan to be too thick, guys,” Ludo warns—”we want to make sure the inside is cooked.” Stretch like pizza dough to your desired thickness and throw your rounds on the grill at medium heat (“we want them to cook slowly, so there’s time to rise.”) Close the top for 10 minutes, at which point those yeasty, crispy bubbles should be forming. Flip each, admire the impressive grill lines, and cover the grill again for another minute. “Then we’re good.”
“Because I’m French,” says Ludo, “bread goes with butter.” He serves his vadouvan naan with a compound butter with honey and coconut milk, but even just olive oil and garlic will make the flatbread sing.
To try it yourself, follow the recipes below: