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 don't make a lot of Armenian foods. I don't have an Armenian cookbook. I wouldn't even have known that these particular desserts were Armenian if I had not been told that in the description of this month's challenge. To me they seem like very simple, tasty, everyday recipes.
I decided to start out making the Nutmeg Cake. It seemed like it was the easier of the two and I figured if I could only get to one during the month, this would be the one that I would want to bake. It was very easy to make, smelled heavenly while baking, was delicious right out of the oven, and tasted equally yummy after being frozen for a few weeks and then reheated.
The only quirky thing was that while I was baking this cake we also had barbecued pork spareribs in the crockpot. For whatever reason I had this incredible sense of Thanksgiving. I think it was the pork/poultry cooking that reminded me of turkey, and the nutmeg cake baking that reminded me of spices and pumpkin pie. It was a bit funny to think about how smells really transport you to a certain time or place.
Skip ahead to a few weeks later when I decided to make the Nazook. I had never heard of Nazook before but it looked like a fairly simple pastry. I believe that if a Nazook is following the traditional flavoring it has a purely vanilla filling. I decided to make the traditional vanilla pastry with half of the dough, but also to branch out a bit with the other half. I'll get to that in a few minutes.
First, I made the pastry dough on a Saturday evening intending to whip up a batch on Sunday after letting the dough rest overnight in the fridge. Even though it is a yeast dough it doesn't puff up and double or triple in size like a bread dough. I didn't end up getting back to the dough until Monday evening, but it was still great to work with. I easily divided it into fourths, kneaded a fourth of the dough a bit to warm it up, and then rolled it out. The vanilla filling didn't crumble as much as it sounded like it was supposed to but it still went on fine. I rolled up my dough, cut it into 8 pieces and stuck them on my pan. I wasn't really sure how much I could expect them to rise so I decided to to another of the fourths with vanilla filling and just stick them on the same pan. That might have been a mistake.
Instead of turning into Nazook pieces they turned into Nazook pinwheels! You can see that a few of them turned out "kind of" right, but all the rest popped open and laid on their side. Since this was my first batch I had no idea what I had done wrong. I decided for my next batch though I would put more room between them and hope that they didn't "tip" over.
Well, it was either that hope or the fact that they were made with non-traditional dark chocolate and dried cherries that did the trick. Not sure, but these guys looked just about perfect to me! Enjoy!
I'll post the recipes at a later date. It is past my bedtime, and almost my posting time and I am hitting the hay.