Baked Goods with a Mission
“The real brilliance of Hot Bread Kitchen is not just the genius of its baked goods or the generosity of its mission, it’s also the sense of people and place that infuses each bread. The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook weaves together stories of these bakers with their recipes, which are as enlightening as they are mouthwatering.”
—Dan Barber, chef and author of The Third Plate
“Jessamyn and her amazingly diverse team of women bakers at Hot Bread Kitchen are as inspiring as their authentic breads and accompaniments are delicious. Each recipe promises to take you around the globe word by word, bite by bite, and to challenge what you thought you knew about bread.”
—Christina Tosi, author of Milk Bar Life
Authentic Multiethnic Breads from the New York City Bakery with a Mission
At first glance Hot Bread Kitchen may look like many other bakeries. Multigrain sandwich loaves, sourdough batards, baguettes, and Parker House rolls line the glass case up front in the small shop. But so, too, do sweet Mexican conchas, rich m’smen flatbreads, mini bialys sporting a filling of caramelized onion, and chewy Indian naan. In fact, the breads are as diverse as the women who bake them—because the recipes come from their homelands.
Hot Bread Kitchen is a bakery that employs and empowers immigrant women, providing them with the skills to succeed in the culinary industry. The tasty corollary of this social enterprise is a line of authentic breads you won’t find anywhere else. Featured in some of New York City’s best restaurants and carried in dozens of retail outlets across the country, these ethnic gems can now be made at home with The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook.
Looking for a chance to master the art of global bread making, from the comfort of your own home? Here’s a tasty recipe for naan to get you started:
Makes 12 (3 × 6-inch/7.5 × 15 cm) pieces; serves 12
Naan may be the paradigm of yeasted flatbreads. Fresh from a tandoor oven and served with curries and roasted meat, this Indian bread is a delicacy. Poor facsimiles made with chemical dough softeners are now available in grocery stores, but naan with a long shelf-life and a long list of ingredients is not the real deal. The yogurt and ghee in this version ensure that the dough is tart and toothsome. Eat naan hot out of the oven if you can.
1 teaspoon ACTIVE DRY YEAST
¼ cup/55 g WATER
5 cups minus 2 tablespoons/620 g BREAD FLOUR, plus more for shaping
1 tablespoon KOSHER SALT, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons SUGAR
½ teaspoon BAKING POWDER
¾ cup/180 g WHOLE MILK
¾ cup/180 g PLAIN FULL-FAT YOGURT
1 tablespoon GHEE or UNSALTED BUTTER, melted, plus more as needed
1. Stir together the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the bread flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, yogurt, and 1 tablespoon ghee to the bowl. Mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth and leaves the sides of the bowl clean, about 5 minutes.
2. Coat the inside of a large bowl with some ghee and transfer the dough to it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or put the whole bowl into a large plastic bag and let the dough rise at room temperature until it is softer than a firm balloon, is supple, and holds an indentation when pressed lightly, about 2 hours.
3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces (each weighing about 3. ounces/100 g). Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of your hands. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until they’re softer than firm balloons and hold indentations when pressed lightly, about 1 hour.
4. Put a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat to 500°F/260°C. Let the stone heat up for at least 30 minutes
5. Working with one naan at a time (keep the rest covered with plastic), gently stretch and lightly press each piece of dough into an oblong shape, measuring about 3 × 6 inches/7.5 × 15 cm.
6. Using the back of a rimmed baking sheet, transfer the naan to the hot pizza stone, fitting as many as you can in a single layer Bake until the edges are dry and the underside is browned, about 2 minutes. Use a large spatula to flip the naan, and bake until the underside is browned, another 2 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough. Keep the baked ones warm in a towel-lined basket while you bake the rest.
7. Serve the naan warm, spread with ghee and sprinkled with salt, if desired. Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature. Reheat on both sides in a skillet over medium heat or in a 400°F/205°C oven.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez is the founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen. Since launching the company out of her home kitchen in 2007, she has received numerous awards and been featured in Food & Wine magazine and the New York Times. She has an MPA from Columbia University and worked in immigration advocacy for ten years before learning to bake and becoming the first female bread baker at Daniel Boulud’s eponymous restaurant. Rodriguez lives in New York City.