Daring Bakers Make Armenian Treats

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

I was thrilled to see this months challenge was not bread based, back to desserts!  This month was a true challenge for me, trying 2 new recipes from another culture.  I had never heard of Nazook or Nutmeg Cake, though both looked quite delicious.   I was quite late making this challenge, I had wanted to jump right in but had much going on.  When the Challenge was first posted it was during Lent (no junk for me), then Easter (made a few family favourites for our big dinner), then had a few cakes to make for Birthdays and Showers. I finally got around to it 2 days before I was to post!

We had the option of just picking one dessert to try, but how do you choose? So, I choose both!

Nutmeg Cake

Ingredients

1 cup (240 ml) milk (   1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (1/3 oz) baking powder
2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) butter, preferably unsalted, cubed
1/2 cup (120 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) walnut pieces, may need a little more
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons (5 to 7 ½ ml) (5 to 8 gm) ground nutmeg
1 egg

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that’s for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.


3. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. One sift is fine


4. Add the brown sugar. Go ahead and mix the flour and brown sugar together.


5. Toss in the cubed butter.


6. Mash the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can also use your fingers if you want). You’ll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.


7. Take HALF of this resulting crumbly mixture into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles.


8. Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl.
9. Toss the nutmeg (I used mostly cinnamon and a little nutmeg) in with the egg.


10. Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed, or mix with a hand whisk if you’re doing it manually. Once it’s mixed well and frothy (about 1 minute using a standing mixer, or about 2-3 minutes of vigorous beating with a whisk), pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform.


11. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix that well, with either a paddle attachment, or a spatula. Or continue to use the whisk; it won’t make much of a difference, since the resulting batter is very liquidy.


12. Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan.


13. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.


14. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


15. Allow to cool in the pan, and then release. Enjoy!

I thought he Nutmeg/Cinnamon cake was ok my parents really enjoyed it. I really liked the texture and the sweetness of it, but was not totally impressed with the taste, maybe the little bit of nutmeg I added (not a fan of nutmeg).

Nazook

Pastry dough
Ingredients

3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast                                                                                                            1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)

Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.


2. Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.


3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.


4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.


5. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.


6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Filling (original recipe)

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar                                                                                                                                                         3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

Wash

1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

Make the filling
1. Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.


2. Add the vanilla extract.
3. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook

4. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.

5. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.   I made 4 different kinds

6. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.

7. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not
transparent.

8. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.

9. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.

10. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
11. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.

12. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

13. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.

Filling #2 Cinnamon

For these ones I used the filling we used back in October when the Daring Bakers made Povitica.


These were pretty good.

Filling #3 Cheese and Garlic

These were really good, kinda like a fancy cheese biscuit!  They would make a nice appetizer

Filling #4 Feta and Roasted Red Peper

These were also quite good! I think they were my favourite.

Over all it was a great challenge.   I love that I tried something different and new.  I probably will not make either again, but I really enjoyed this challenge.  Thank you Jason!

7 Responses to Daring Bakers Make Armenian Treats

  1. Anula says:

    KUDOS for making both! And so many nazook variations! Bravo! Both look delicious – especially the feta&roasted red pepper nazook :)
    Pozdrawiam, Anula.

  2. Jenni says:

    Great job! Both the nazook and the nutmeg cake look great! :)

  3. I bet the cinnamon povitica-filled nazooks were wonderful – I loved that filling so much! And the feta and red pepper look awesome as well!

  4. Shelley C says:

    Oh my gosh, I love your savory nazooks!! Fabulous job on all the versions of the challenge this month!!

  5. marcellina says:

    You sound so much like me – yep, lent (no sweet things), then Easter (new recipes to try) and finally I got around to the challenge yes, nazook 2 days before. Worth it, though! Yours look beautiful! I love the varieties!

  6. Wow, I love all your variations- particularly the savoury takes on the nazook- very inpsired!

  7. Anuja says:

    Wow you managed both plus one bonus variation too :D. Great job!! Your nazooks look good and the cake looks fab too.

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