April's Daring Baker's challenge was to make either (or both) Nazook or Nutmeg cake, both of which are traditional Armenian desserts. I made the Nazook immediately and planned on avoiding the nutmeg cake because the idea of something's entire flavour profile being nutmeg just didn't really appeal to me. Plus, flaky pastry sounded much better than cake. I ended up making both and it turns out that Armenians know good dessert.
The nazook were easy and delicious. The sour cream dough came together beautifully and when I rolled it out the next day it didn't stick nor tear. The filling is basically a shortbread mix (which sounded strange to me but how could I not have loved it given my deep relationship with all things shortbread?) I made a half-batch of the dough which turned into a quarter batch of the traditional vanilla nazooks and a quarter batch of cinnamon nazooks. I invented the cinnamon filling haphazardly by tossing things together and in the end it sort of drooled out of the pastry and didn't look quite as pretty as the vanilla nazooks, but it was much preferred by the boyfriend who responded "I could eat ten more of these!" (As opposed to his initial, "Yeah. . . they're good," in response to the vanilla ones.) I preferred the vanilla type.
Meanwhile, other Daring Bakers were making comments about the nutmeg cake that were excessively positive. I couldn't help being intrigued enough to finally throw together some mini-cakes and. . . HOLY CATS it was excellent! That, coming from a non-cake fan. Sure, there was the nutmeg which normally isn't my favourite spice and is one that I associate with creamed spinach rather than desserts, but I think the strongest flavour was a deep caramel. The cake was moist and. . . just fabulous. I'm not sure I can really describe how pleased I was with it. I'll try to post it soon, though I'm not sure I got any decent pictures.
In any case, the nazook were delicious and terribly easy to make. They'd be great party food, since the full batch makes a lot of cookies.
|I think I skimped on the flour for this filling.|
Nazook Recipe (makes about 40)
What you'll need:
3 cups (420g) AP flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup (225g) sour cream
1 cup (225g) butter
1 1/2 cups (210g) AP flour
1 1/2 cups (340g) sugar
3/4 cups (170g) butter
2 tsp vanilla (or a bunch of cinnamon)
1 egg, whisked, for egg wash
For the dough
Mix everything in a bowl. Really. Once it comes together, knead the dough for about ten minutes and then cover it and refrigerate it overnight. If you're using a mixer, start with the paddle and then switch to the hook. If it's too sticky, add some flour.
For the filling
Mix everything together. It should end up with sort of a crumbly consistency like when you're making shortbread.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll out 1/4 of the dough into a big thin (1/8") rectangle. Sprinkle the filling evenly across your dough, leaving about an inch clear along the long sides. Starting from a long side, roll everything up into a long log and then press the log down lightly to flatten it out a bit. Apply your egg wash and then cut the log into ~1" sections. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden.
Cool and devour.
|Cookie log, ready for egg wash.|
|These did expand more than I'd expected.|
|The cinnamon filling was pretty, pre-drool.|
"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."