This is my first Daring Bakers’ Challenge. I was so overwhelmed to see many experts making something new and creating delicacies with ease and I wasn’t sure if I would fit in the group. But my curious mind needed to feel the thrill of a challenge and that is the main reason for me to join the group. 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. I’m very new to baking but this art is very intriguing and whether the process is long or short the end result is just well worth it.
When I went through the recipe for the Nazook, the name just made me feel alien and I wasn’t sure about the taste. To remind you, I haven’t tasted either Nazook or the Nutmeg cake before. So I was up for some new taste and that made me feel like a child who gets all excited to buy a new toy. First I made the dough for the Nazook and refrigerated it for 4 hours. During the wait period, I made the nutmeg cake. I quartered the recipe for Nazook thinking that 40 pieces would be too much if I go wrong and to sell that within my family is some humongous task. But, after tasting the Nazook right off the oven my opinion completely changed. My son was so excited after tasting it that he called his uncle and grandparents overseas to tell them how awesome this new pastry he tasted. I definitely regret not making the entire recipe and this one is a definite keeper. The Nazook recipe is Jason’s Aunt Aida’s recipe and its such a fool proof recipe that even a beginner baker like me can get success by following the recipe to the dot. The Armenian nutmeg cake is adapted from a recipe for the same in The Commonsense Cookery Book, by the NSW Cookery Teachers’ Scholarship Fund. The nutmeg cake was very soft, fluffy and very tasty, perfect with a cup of coffee/tea.
Recipe for Nazook
For the Dough:
All purpose flour — 3/4 cup
Yeast — 5/8 tsp (1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp)
Sour cream — 1/4 cup
Softened Butter — 1/4 cup
For the Filling:
All purpose flour — 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp or 6 Tbsp)
Sugar — 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp or 6 Tbsp)
Softened Butter — 3/16 cup (1/8 cup + 1 Tbsp or 3 Tbsp)
Vanilla Extract — 1/2 tsp
Greek yogurt or other similar thick yogurt for glazing (I used FAGE) — 2 Tbsp
Method to make the pastry dough:
1. In a large bowl add all purpose flour and mix dry yeast in it. Add sour cream and softened butter.
2. Using either a hand mixer or electric mixer with paddle attachment combine the flour, sour cream and butter well. Alternatively the dough can be kneaded with hand for about 10 minutes until a soft dough is formed. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 3-5 hrs or overnight, if preferred.
Method to make the filling:
1. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, and butter well. Add vanilla extract. Mix the filling until it looks like a sand. This step should not take long. Set aside.
Method to make the Nazook:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough in to a thin sheet. Spread the filling on the dough evenly covering all edges.
2. Roll the dough carefully making sure the filling is still intact. Pat the loaf with your palm and finger lightly. Apply the yogurt glaze on the rolled loaf. Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife cut the dough in to about 10 equal pieces.
3. Place the dough in a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the top of the nazook gets golden. Let it cool and Enjoy!!!
Recipe for Nutmeg Cake:
Whole milk — 1 cup
Baking soda — 1 tsp
All purpose flour — 2 cups
Baking powder — 2 tsp
Brown sugar, firmly packed — 2 cups
Butter (room temperature) — 3/4 cup
Roasted Almond pieces — 1/2 cup
Ground Nutmeg — 1 to 1 1/2 tsp
Egg — 1
1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl mix baking soda (not baking powder) and milk and set aside. In a food processor, add flour, baking powder, brown sugar and pulse until all the ingredients are uniformly mixed. Add cubed butter and pulse until everything is mixed in to a tan colored crumbs.
2. In a springfoam pan, pour half of the crumbs. Press the crumbs with your fingers uniformly lining the pan like a crust.
3. Add the egg in to the remaining crumb mixture in the food processor. Grate 1 1/2 tsp of nutmeg in to the mixture. Pulse until well combine. Add the milk+baking soda liquid in to the food processor. Combine until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed. Pour the batter over the crust in the pan. Gently sprinkle almond pieces over the batter. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30-40 mins (mine took about 50 mins to cook entirely) and remove the cake from the oven when a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cake in a wire rack completely. Slice and Enjoy!!!
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