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!
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. 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!