This recipe had me at “nazook”. I didn’t get to participate in last month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge because I was too busy with school, but I knew that I had to try the recipe for this month. There were actually two to choose from, and I would have loved to have made both if I had the time. The options were a nutmeg cake or this pastry called Nazook. Both are Armenian recipes, which I was pretty excited about because I have never tried Armenian food before. I am always especially interested in baked goods from other countries because I find it really fascinating how different tastes can be. I chose the nazook because I don’t always care for cake, but I am a huge fan of pastry. It’s also no secret that my favourite things to make always involve rolling out dough. There is nothing more stress relieving than making a good pastry, and I need some stress relief with finals starting next week.
Nazook is basically a flaky pastry dough filled with a sugary/buttery crumble mixture. I was reading through some of the posts from people who completed the challenge earlier in the month, and a lot of people tried out different flavours for the filling. The original recipe uses vanilla, but I decided to try out a few things. The recipe makes forty of these little pastries so I did ten of each of the following four flavours: vanilla, coconut, cherry, and almond. I think that my favourite was the cherry, but I didn’t do anything drastic with the flavouring so they were all fairly similar in taste. The pastry is what really makes this recipe because it is so flaky and perfect.
“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.”
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 tsps active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
See more below about the different flavours I tried
2 egg yolks
Make the dough:
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
5. If using a stand 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. I added about 1/4 cup of flour.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours or overnight.
Make the Filling:
7. Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract. Instead of making all of the filling vanilla, I divided it into four ziploc bags and flavoured them differently. I used 1/2 tsp vanilla in one bag, 1/2 tsp almond extract for the second, 1 tsp sour cherry juice for the third, and 1/4 cup flaked coconut plus 1/2 tsp vanilla for the fourth bag.
9. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.
Make the Nazook:
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
12. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour. I found it easiest to work with this dough on a sheet.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.
14. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. I had already divided my filling up into four different bags. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some 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. I didn’t want to mess up the sheet I was working on so I cut the pieces and put them on a cookie sheet before brushing them with the egg wash.
18. Use a crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equal-sized pieces. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
19. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
20. Allow to cool and enjoy!