The letter "N" proved to be the toughest one for me in this marathon so far. I was looking for an easy, vegetarian International recipe that my family would love besides not demanding me a trip to local grocery store. I went from cooking naan pizza to nacho supreme in my head until I remembered an Armenian pastry that I had seen in Aparna's blog sometime ago, which in turn was inspired from here as a part of Daring Baker's Challenge.
Trust me when I say that this delicacy doesn't demand much time or efforts. I didn't have to use my head even a teeny tiny bit since it seems to be a fool-proof recipe. I blindly followed the original recipe and was rewarded with no yeast smelling, flaky pastry with subtly sweet yet delicious filling. They were so good that I gobbled up four nazook as soon as they came out of the oven and had to force myself to stop, which was very unlike me.
Apart from the waiting period for chilling the dough and the baking parts, these nazook didn't take much of my time. It took around 10 minutes for my dough and filling preparation and another ten minutes for rolling and cutting the dough. It was a lot easier compared to what I cook everyday in my kitchen.
Now what are nazooks, you ask. Nazook / Nazuk are baked, layered yeast dough pastry with a sweet filling. They are popular in Armenia and are traditionally served during Easter time. A little wiki search tells that it is popular in some other European nations as well. These slightly crunchy yet soft pastries are made by rolling out the dough, spreading the sweet flour paste on the surface and rolling the dough again into a log like in jelly roll style and cutting them into smaller pieces before baking them. The traditional vanilla flavored filling seems to be the most common one used but since there are variations, any filling of your choice, that is not overtly sweet can be used. You can also go with nuts or mahleb - made with pits of dark cherries. I went with a filling Aparna suggested and after eating the flaky pastry, I am thinking of a coconut filling like in dilpasand one for my next trial. Yes, there are going to be future trials. :)
Ingredients for the pastry dough:
1 & 1/2 all purpose flour * (See the note)
1 & 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
100 grams / 7 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sour cream (I used fat free yogurt)
I used a food processor to make the dough but feel free to use your hands if you wish. Add 1.5 cups all purpose flour and yeast to a food processor and pulse to mix. Next add butter, sour cream / thick yogurt and run the processor until the mixture is combined. Remove and work with the dough until you get a smooth and elastic dough. Cover the dough and keep refrigerated for at least 3 - 5 hours. I kept it overnight.
* Work with 1 & 1/2 cups flour initially and add extra flour if needed until you reach a workable dough, almost but not sticky consistency. I added 1.5 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
* I watched the video later (Check the link above.) and realized that 1.5 cups flour yields the perfect texture as shown. The extra 2 tbsp flour I added didn't make a difference and I had a dough with perfect consistency to work with. I just needed a dusting of flour to roll out the dough.
Ingredients for filling:
1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup coarsely ground almonds
1/4 cup semolina / rava
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
5 - 6 Tbsp / 75 grams butter at room temperature
1 - 2 tbsp milk / yogurt for brushing
1 - 2 Tbsp white sesame seeds (optional)
How to prepare the filling:
Combine everything until the mixture resembles a coarse powder. I had run all the dry ingredients in a food processor to combine them well and without thinking, added butter as well at the end. And so I have a little mushy filling instead of a coarser one. It didn't ruin the recipe though.
How to prepare nazook:
When you are ready to prepare nazook, bring out the chilled dough and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 - 20 minutes. Prepare the filling as mentioned above in the mean time. Divide the dough and filling into two equal portions. Take one portion of the dough, lightly knead it and roll it into ball. Work on a floured surface and roll it out into a thin but not transparent rectangle.
* Sprinkle one portion of the filling over the surface of the rectangle rolled out. The filling should be spread in such a way that it is even through out and as close as possible to the edges on the shorter side. Leave some of the dough uncovered along the lengthy sides of the rectangle. Starting from one end of the lengthy side, start rolling it tightly into a log. When you are done with the rolling, pat the log along with your fingers so that the surface flattens a little bit.
* Brush the tops and sides with yogurt / milk and sprinkle on sesame seeds if using.
* Cut the log into 10 - 12 pieces of equal length using a knife. Repeat the procedure with the other portion of the remaining dough and the filling.
* Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Place them on a baking sheet and bake them for about 30 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Remove and place them on a wire rack to cool. Store them in airtight container once cool.
Nazook will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks or can be frozen in an air-tight freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Logo courtesy : Preeti