One of the sweet breakfast combinations I remember most from my childhood is that of cinnamon and sugar. I remember it on cinnamon buns, coffee cake, cereal, and french toast. Sometimes it was crunchy, sometimes it was soft because it had been mixed with melted butter. The recipe this week for Cinnamon Naan Elephant Ears by baker-blogger Brett Braley, from the blog Fig+Bleu, takes me back to those breakfast mornings. I think I’ll take Brett up on his suggestion to eat them with with baked apples or apple butter and confectioner’s sugar. —Kristina
Why Brett loves this recipe: My father is not an adventurous eater; and there are certain days where I would say I am not, either. He’s a meat and potatoes guy, untrusting of anything he can’t pronounce or that doesn’t come in a cellophane wrapper. We used to go to the county fair, my father and I, before the ticket prices were $15 a head and parking was free at the church adjacent to the fairgrounds. And at the end of a long, long day, we’d stop at his favorite stand where he’d buy himself two elephant ears and down them with a Diet Coke. It was his reward for a hard day’s work of being a father while my mother worked the weekend shift. For this recipe, I blended my father’s county fair dessert with a naan recipe that has been sitting around, just waiting to be used at the perfect moment.
Photography by Brett F. Braley
Cinnamon Naan Elephant Ears
Makes 8 elephant ears
– ¾ cup water, warm to the touch
– ¼ cup sour cream, left out for half an hour to be closer to room temperature
– ¼ cup white sugar + 1 ½ additional cups for finishing
– 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 cups all-purpose flour + additional for kneading dough
– ½ teaspoon vegetable oil + more for frying
– 1 cup cornstarch
– 2 tablespoons cinnamon
In a mixing bowl, whisk together water, sour cream, ¼ cup sugar, yeast, and salt. Allow to sit for five minutes. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the mixture in a large circulation motion while slowly pouring flour into the yeast mixture a half-cup at a time. Wait until each half cup is incorporated before adding the next. Depending on altitude, you may require a little more flour than what is listed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for three to four minutes, until the dough is light and springy (it will not be a big ball of dough). Oil a large bowl with ½ teaspoon vegetable oil, and place the dough inside. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow the dough to rest for thirty minutes.
In three separate plates, place the remaining sugar mixed with cinnamon, cornstarch, and paper towels to absorb the frying oil. Set aside a large plate or platter for the finished elephant ears.
After the dough has rested, divide it into eight segments, rolling each of these segments into a ball. One by one, flatten each ball with your hands or roll it out with a pin (depending on how “rustic” you want the elephant ears to look). Dip each piece of dough into the cornstarch, covering all edges and sides. Repeat with all seven remaining dough balls.
Heat approximately one inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to 375*F (if you do not have a thermometer, you can pinch off a bit of dough and place in the oil. When the oil begins to bubble around the dough, the oil is ready).
Carefully fry the elephant ears, two at a time for twenty to thirty seconds on each side. Make sure the edges of the dough do not burn. Remove each elephant ear from the oil using tongs and place onto the paper towel-covered plate to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaining 3 batches.
Finally, dip each fried naan into your cinnamon sugar mixture, pressing slightly firmly to get as much of the sugar to stick onto the naan. Eat while still warm. The naan can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
About Brett: Brett F. Braley is a writer, baker, photographer, and blogger currently living in rural Pennsylvania with a mutt named Milo. Born in the Midwest, brought up in Appalachia, Brett has spent a year in Italy, and five more in California, all time which has provided Brett a different perspective on food. Combining traditional American desserts with new flavors and techniques gives Brett an appreciation for creating baked goods that are distinctly his own. You can find more recipes and stories from Brett on his website, Fig+Bleu, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.