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.
These little bites are not only buttery, flaky, and slightly sweet but they are also easy to make and bake. To one batch I made as directed and to the other I added a sprinkle of cinnamon. My personal fave is the original version - there is the perfect hint of vanilla which blends so well with the buttery pastry.
- 3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
- 2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
- 1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
- 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped for the seeds
- 1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)
What to do
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 filling
7. Mix the flour, sugar, vanilla seeds and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract.
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 moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
12. Form one of the quarters 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.
14. 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.
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.
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 non-greased cookie sheet.
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!