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.
First, I admit that I made these a while ago, and then got busy with hosting Daring Cools and running a half marathon that I’m only finally getting around to posting this. I also admit that I’m not very familiar with Armenian cooking. That being said, both of these pastries sounded AMAZING, and I’m so glad there was time to make both of them!
The first pastry I made was the nazooks. These are deliciously rich rolled pastries that I filled with the base filling, honey, cinnamon/nutmeg, or chocolate chips (which is apparently scandalous for the little old Armenian ladies, but it was delicious, so oh well).
Prep time: 3 h, 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
- Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
- Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.
- Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
- Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
- 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.
- Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.
- Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
- Add the vanilla extract.
- Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to moderate 350 ?F.
- Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
- Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
- Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
- Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
- Allow to cool and enjoy!
The second recipe for this month was the nutmeg coffee cake, which received rave reviews. I don’t have any pictures of it, but if you imagine a darker version of coffee cake, that’ll get you 90% of the way there. Oh, and put walnuts on the top instead of a brown sugar/butter mixture. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy, and who doesn’t love ridiculously easy recipes?
Armenian Nutmeg Cake
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 40 min
- Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4 .
- Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.
- Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until uniformly mixed.
- Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs.
- Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
- Crack the egg into the food processor with the rest of the crumbs still in it.
- Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that into the food processor, too. Pulse until well-incorporated.
- Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed.
- Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
- Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
- Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 30-40 minutes. It's ready when the top is golden brown, and when it passes the toothpick test (comes out clean).
- Cool the cake in the pan, and then dig in. Yum yum!
Update: And here’s a picture!