Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbĭng)

Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbĭng)

Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbĭng)Matt Taylor-Gross

The Uyghurs of the western regions of China refer to these flatbread as nang, which have existed for centuries as a staple at every meal. Punctured with a nail-studded tool, they're scattered with any variety of seeds and spices and vary in diameter from a few inches across to a foot or more. Though they're usually cooked in tandoors, an oven with a pizza stone will do. Flour in China is lower in protein than American all-purpose, forming a dough that is comparatively lower in gluten, the result of which is fluffy no matter how thinly rolled. To avoid a crackerlike bread, a mixture of all-purpose and pastry flour will do the trick.

Recipe adapted from All Under Heaven.

Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbĭng)
A centuries-old staple in Western China, this flatbread is punctured with a nail-studded tool and scattered with a variety of seeds and spices.
Yield: serves 6-8
Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 12 tsp. active dry yeast (1/8 oz.)
  • 1 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 13 cups all-purpose mixed with 2/3 cup pastry flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • Optional toppings: sesame seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, ground black pepper, sea salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook, combine the yeast, salt, sugar, and 1 14 cups of lukewarm water (about 115°F). Let the mixture stand until foamy, about 10 minutes, and then add the flour, wheat germ, butter, and oil. Mix on low speed until a dough comes together and no dry flour remains. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth, about 6 minutes more. Cover the bowl and let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. Punch the dough down, re-cover, and let it rise, again at room temperature, until doubled in volume (about 30–40 minutes more).
  3. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 4 equal pieces, about 6 oz. each, and gently shape each into a round. Cover with a towel and let them rest for 15 minutes. Working with one ball at a time, use a rolling pin to flatten each piece into a 7-inch circle. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover again and let the breads rise for another 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Lightly prick the dough all over with a fork and brush lightly with water. Sprinkle with your desired toppings, slide the loaves onto the hot stone, and bake until just golden brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. Serve warm.