Friday, April 27, 2012

Triumph Over Tragedy

I was pretty interested when I saw this month's Daring Baker's Challenge.  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. Neither looked particularly difficult but definitely something that I never would have made without the push to try.

 I made the Nazook over Easter weekend.  Half I used the regular vanilla filling, which I enjoyed.  The other half I added some mini-chocolate chips because D really likes chocolate.  After sharing some in Sunday school, I divided the remaining Nazook between Daddy and D.  When my parents came back the next weekend for a funeral, Daddy said that he was REALLY sad when the "rolled things" were gone. 

The only delay in making these is having to rest the dough; however, I made the dough Saturday night and finished the next morning before church with very little extra time required.  I would definitely make this again and play around some with the filling. I decided to make the nutmeg cake for one of our (many) baby showers at work.  I got really excited because I thought I would be all cute and take my new cake plate to display it. 

Well, this is where tragedy come in play...I was walking up the stairs in the parking garage and caught my foot on the stair rise.  Down I go!  I hit my knee on the edge of the stair and dropped my carrier in order to catch myself...there went my pretty cake plate into pieces!  Thankfully, the cake was okay as it was in a separate container. 

At first I was so sad about my plate...then my knee started hurting and I had to limp the rest of the day....I am now the proud bearer of a purple, green bruise across my knee...two weeks later!  Oh, well...more importantly the cake was delicious!  The honoree at the shower loved it and it was super easy to make.  I used the food processor method.  I think I used a little less butter than called for and it was still good.  The crust, of course, was my favorite part!  Mmmmm!  Another one I'll make again.  Thanks for the great challenges!

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, I used low fat
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
1/2 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

  For the pastry dough, place the sifted flour into a large bowl and add the dry yeast, and mix it in.  Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.  Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough using a dough hook. Beat for several minutes or until dough doesn't stick to sides of bowl. Add a little flour if needed.  Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

For the filling mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.  Add the vanilla extract. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

To make the nazook, preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent. 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.
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. 

Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).  Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush. Cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with other quarters of dough and filling.  Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.

 Armenian Nutmeg Cake
1 cup (240 ml) milk (I used almond)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) baking powder
2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) butter, preferably unsalted, cubed

1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons (5 to 7 ½ ml) (5 to 8 gm) ground nutmeg (try to grate it fresh yourself; the aroma is enchanting)
1 egg

An Even Easier Way...if you have a Food Processor
Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4 .  Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.  Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until uniformly mixed.  Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.

  Crack the egg into the food processor with the rest of the crumbs still in it. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that into the food processor, too. Pulse until well-incorporated. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.  Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 30-40 minutes. It's ready when the top is golden brown, and when it passes the toothpick test (comes out clean).  Cool the cake in the pan, and enjoy!


shelley c. said...

I am sorry about your injury and for the cake plate, but glad you are okay, and super happy that your cake was unharmed! LOL. What a delicious treat for a baby shower. And your "rolled things" look perfect. (Love that!)
Great job on the challenge!

Tugs Girl said...

Your cake was so pretty on the plate - so perfect for a shower! I'm so sorry for your injured knee and broken plate, but I'm glad your cake made it. :)

Erica said...

The Nazook sounds and looks so yummy! Definitely a dessert I would be all over. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad you're ok! Bummer about the plate :( I did something similar with one of my favorite baking dishes last year