The April challenge,straight from the DB website is as follows:
"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."
Challenging- of course, tricky- maybe, interesting- definitely!
Our host gave us the option of making either the nutmeg cake or the nazook, possibly both. I set out to complete both challenges, but with time constraints, due in part to a little procrastination, I ended up only making the nazook.
It seemed a little out of my comfort zone, since, I have nothing to compare by, having not made nazook or come across it ever in my life. I did find Jason's detailed method and recipe most helpful. This, in conjunction with his Aunt Aida's enlightening video tutorial took away any apprehension I had allowing me to forge ahead in making this flaky delicacy.
Nazook is a buttery, Armenian pastry. Doing a google search led me to learn that it has Russian, Ukrainian as well as Iranian roots. This culturally fortified pastry has a shortbread-like texture and it envelopes a mild, sweet filling.
I played with the filling, making two actually. The original called for a vanilla crumb core, which is standard according to Jason. I added chopped almonds and honey to this. The rest of my nazook got inlaid with sweetened, fresh coconut, touched with some crushed cardamom (endorsing the South Indian in me).
So here goes, my attempt at the lovely Armenian heritaged nazook.
(Recipe and method adapted from the Daring Baker's challenge recipe)
- 3 bowls ( if using stand mixer, 2 bowls)
- cookie sheet(s)
- pastry brush
- rolling pin
- crinkle cutter, or a sharp knife
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 oz sour cream
- 1 stick softened, unsalted butter
- 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift in flour. ( there is the option of using your hands, I used my mixer)
- Add the dry yeast, and combine well.
- Mix in the sour cream, and 1 stick butter work it into a dough, about 1-2 minutes on medium speed.
- Next, if using mixer, switch to a dough hook and on medium high, knead for about 8 minutes until dough pulls into form with no stickiness. (If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.)
- Cover the dough or place in a large Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.
- 3/4 c all purpose flour
- 3/4 c finely chopped almonds
- 3/4 c sugar
- 6 tbsp softened unsalted butter
- *2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Coconut cardamom filling:
For the glaze:
I egg, beaten
Putting it all together:
Beware the house will start smelling a lot like Christmas, with a very warm intense vanilla scent wading through the air. The host mentions that it is traditionally prepared around Easter. Any which way this treat will bring in a downright festive mood..
- 2 c fresh, grated coconut (or frozen, shredded coconut unsweetened)
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 1 cardamom pod, powdered
I egg, beaten
Putting it all together:
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cut the refrigerated dough into 2 halves.
- Form each half into a ball. Dust your work surface with a little flour.
- Roll out each dough ball into 2 large rectangles.The dough should be thin, but not transparent (app. 9 X13 in).
- Spread one filling mixture for each roll out of dough, lengthwise across the rectangle in an even layer (vanilla for one and the coconut for the other rectangle).
- From the long side of one rectangle (nearest to you), start slowly rolling the dough up and away from you . Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin,cylindrical loaf.
- Repeat with the other rectangle.
- Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
- Carefully put loaves onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Apply your egg wash with a pastry brush over the pieces.
- * Use a crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces, with both loaves totalling 20 pieces.
- Place in an oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
I went in search of a crinkle cutter so I could slice my nazook. Of course, I could've used a kitchen knife, but on seeing the original I knew the crinkle cutter left far more prettier pieces.
Kudos to Jason for this super awesome and very unique challenge, in addition to formally presenting us with two delightful and very distinct Armenian sweets.
|The ones with the coconut filling turned out browner towards the bottom edges due to the sugars oozing out a bit and caramelizing|
The original list called for double the ingredients, which yields 40 nazook. I halved the recipe and made necessary adjustments since I didn't need as many (or so I thought).
One thing I must add is that the dough alone is wonderful and I think quite versatile. You could easily switch it in for a number of recipes that call for pastry dough.
|The perfect tea accompaniment|
Now, I'll go bake that nutmeg cake.
"Your worst day with Jesus will still be better than your best day without Him." Joyce Meyer