Monday, April 30, 2012


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. Like most hosts, Jason provided background on the recipes and detailed step by step instructions. He also went above and beyond to make instructional videos as well.

I chose to make nazook as it sounded more challenging, I am not crazy about nutmeg and it was Jason's Aunt Aida's recipe. Since, God knows, I didn't need 40 pieces of pastry I halved the recipe. Then I split the filling to make two versions so I could try the traditional vanilla-scented filling and experiment with a brown sugar cinnamon filling inspired by my Mom's favorite Pop-Tarts

I was a bit nervous making it. Nazook was unlike any pastry or yeast recipe I previously made. It had yeast but didn't require proofing, the addition of warm liquid or rising time. The filling involved flour as well as the standard butter/sugar/flavoring combination. But I shouldn't have worried! The resulting pasty had an irresistible buttery, flaky crust with a scent that made me heady.

As for the fillings, I can't tell you which version was better in spite of many side by side tastings... Maybe I'll to decide next time. ;) If you have any suggestions for avoiding the semi-exploded appearance below in the future, please leave them in the comments. 

Yields approximately 20 pieces

Pastry dough
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose (Plain) Flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) Softened, Unsalted Butter (room temperature)

Vanilla Filling
1/3 cup All-Purpose (Plain) Flour, sifted
1/3 cup Sugar
6 tablespoons Softened, Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling
1/3 cup All-Purpose (Plain) Flour, sifted
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
6 tablespoons Softened, Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Wash: 1 Egg Yolk


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.

Make the fillings
7. Mix the flour, brown or white sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract or cinnamon as appropriate.
9. Mix the fillings until they looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into two halves.
12. Form one into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent. I find it helpful to cover the dough with plastic wrap while rolling to prevent it from sticking the rolling pin.
14. Spread one of the filling mixtures across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. To get it started I rolled the filling out on top of the dough and then spread it with my fingers to get it close to the edges on the short sides while keeping about 1 inch of the pastry dough uncovered along the long edges.
15. 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.
16. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
17. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
18. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used a silipat!)
19. Repeat with the other variation or additional portion of the dough and filling. 
19. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
20. Allow to cool and enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment