Friday, April 27, 2012

Daring Baker's Challenge, April 2012- Armenian Nazook




In addition to joining the Daring Cook's I signed myself up for the Daring Baker's community. This group comprises of thousands of home bakers throughout the world who take part in a monthly common recipe challenge. Each challenge involves making the recipe, photographing the results and posting these online on a set, designated date. The recipes can be, yes, challenging, sometimes tricky, and more often than not, very interesting.This is my first Daring Baker's challenge. 
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).

The results were delicious. The almonds and honey added a nice dimension to the vanilla center, while the combination of coconut and cardamom leaned more to a moist, tender center.  Both had my mouth swooning. My kids who never experiment much when it comes to food, asked for seconds and thirds. Of course, JZ was super impressed. He personally loves pastries, no matter the filling.


So here goes, my attempt at the lovely Armenian heritaged nazook.


(Recipe and method adapted from the Daring Baker's challenge recipe)

Equipment Needed:
  • 3 bowls ( if using stand mixer, 2 bowls)
  • cookie sheet(s)
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • crinkle cutter, or a sharp knife
(This equipment list- maybe something to consider for future recipes- was so helpful in the preparation and sorting of ingredients.)
 Pastry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 4 oz  sour cream
  • 1 stick softened, unsalted butter 
  •  1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
 Method to make pastry:
  •  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.
 Vanilla nut filling:

  • 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
With your hands or using food processor, mix together the ingredients from flour to the vanilla, until it's texture resembles crumbly, slightly coarse breadcrumbs.
Coconut cardamom filling:
  • 2 c fresh, grated coconut (or frozen, shredded coconut unsweetened)
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 cardamom pod, powdered
Mix together the ingredients until sugars blend in evenly with coconut.
For the glaze:
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. 

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..

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


Notes:

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

After all this, am I glad I attempted nazook? Yes. Will I make it again?  Yes. Do I wish I had stuck to the original quantity of ingredients and not halved the recipe? YES, those 20 pieces disappeared way too fast! 

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

29 comments:

  1. Thanks Julie, I always look forward to your comments :)
    Yes nazook was new to me too, but am so glad I made it!

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  2. Now I wish I've tried the nazook too... Looks delicious! :)
    Pozdrawiam, Anula.

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  3. Thanks Anula, fun to make and fun to eat :))

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  4. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! You did great!

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  5. Great job! Your nazook looks wonderful!

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  6. Lovely crispy nazook. I loved making the nazook too. Very well presented Tisa, I especially love your last click. Awesome!!!

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  7. Thanks much Jayanthi-, yes I saw yours, I might come to you for some photography lessons ;-)

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  8. Thanks a lot Rebecca and Gingered Whisk :)

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  9. Nazook looks perfect, I enjoyed making them too. You done a wonderful job.

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  10. these look very crisp and beautiful... very new to me...

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  11. I know wasn't it fun, Swati? Thank you!

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  12. They were crisp and beautiful to eat, thanks Reshmi :)

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  13. These look super delicious and stunning - I can imagine how beautiful they would taste :D
    Lovely!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  14. Thanks Uru, they were super yum!

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  15. I really wished I had time to try nazook! I think your kid's reaction says it all!
    Great job on this challenge

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  16. Thanks so much Sawsan, very encouraging coming from you.

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  17. I heard of nazook just few days ago when someone else participated in Baker's challenge, but they were plain. Yours look flavorful with delicious fillings.

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  18. Thank you Balvinder for your thoughtful words and your follow ! While baking this, I didn't know if I'd like it, but it really was very tasty.

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  19. Beautiful Nazook! And wow 20 pieces weren't enough? I really must try this!

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  20. Thank you, Nish! Yes, give it a try- you won't be disappointed :)

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  21. This is a delicious blend of flavors

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  22. looks perfect !! i would love to have some

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  23. Thanks so much, would love to share some, if I had some ;-)

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  24. This looks fabulous, excellent job Tisa !! Thank you for stopping by my space :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Sobha! And , yes those fries looked delicious :)

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  25. Looks so yummmy.. n nice pics too!!

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments on the dish and the pics :)

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!