Friday, April 27, 2012

THE DARING BAKERS' APRIL 2012 CHALLENGE: Armenian Nazook & Nutmeg Cake

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.

This month the Daring Bakers had the option of making one of two recipes or both. These wonderful recipes are traditonally Armenian and new to many Daring Bakers. That's what we are all about - stepping out of our comfort zone.

I started off with Nutmeg Cake, a wonderfully simple cake that can be made by hand or in the food processor. This cake consists of a crumbly biscuit base topped with a nutmeg-gy cake. For my family and I the Nutmeg cake base was too sweet. Next time I would be inclined to cut the sugar by half. Sweetness aside, this cake is simple, quick and tasty!

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

Makes one 9”/23cm cake which yields 12 servings
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 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
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) walnut pieces, may need a little more
  • 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
Directions - the Traditional Way (The Fast, Easy Way further down)
1. Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that's for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.
3. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. One sift is fine
4. Add the brown sugar. Go ahead and mix the flour and brown sugar together. Or not.
5. Toss in the cubed butter.

6. Mash the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can also use your fingers if you want). You'll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.

7. Take HALF of this resulting crumbly mixture into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles. It will be easy.

8. Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl.
9. Toss the nutmeg in with the egg.
10. Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed, or mix with a hand whisk if you're doing it manually. Once it's mixed well and frothy (about 1 minute using a standing mixer, or about 2-3 minutes of vigorous beating with a whisk), pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform.
11. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix that well, with either a paddle attachment, or a spatula. Or continue to use the whisk; it won't make much of a difference, since the resulting batter is very liquidy.

12. Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan.

13. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.

14. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 50-60 minutes. You'll know it's done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
15. Allow to cool in the pan, and then release. Enjoy!

An Even Easier Way...if you have a Food Processor
1. Preheat your oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4 .
2. Mix the baking soda (not baking powder) into the milk. Set aside.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, and the brown sugar into your food processor. Pulse until uniformly mixed.
4. Toss in the cubed butter. Pulse until uniformly mixed into tan-colored crumbs.
5. Pour HALF of the crumbs into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press out a crust using your fingers and knuckles.
6. Crack the egg into the food processor with the rest of the crumbs still in it.
7. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that into the food processor, too. Pulse until well-incorporated.
8. Pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until a slightly lumpy tan batter is formed.
9. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
10. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
11. 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).
12. Cool the cake in the pan.

Next I decided to try the Nazook as it was unusual and used basic ingredients. 

Nazook are amazing!

I love that fact that the ingredients are basic but it is the proportions and method that create something new with a unique flavour.

My family and I loved the delicious flavour and flaky texture of Nazook. This recipe will become a regular in our household. They would be great to bring to a party and shared. I found that even a day or two later Nazook tasted fresh and delicious. If you haven't ever made them, do try just once - you won't be sorry.


Yields 40 pieces
Video instructions by my aunt Aida
Pastry dough
  • 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 ( I also scraped the seeds out of a vanilla pod and added to the filling for extra vanilla flavour)
  • 1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

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, 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

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 (just 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 ungreased 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!

Thank you Jason for introducing us to these fabulous Armenian desserts! 


  1. Wow these look super! The nazook's a real star isn't it? :D

  2. Beautiful cake and perfect looking nazzok! Kudos for making both - you're very daring indeed :)
    P.S. Great photos!

    Pozdrawiam, Anula.

  3. Your cake and nazook look fantastic! I adore the cake so much but alas didn't have enough time for the nazook :(

  4. Your nazook look beautiful! Mine did not brown up so nicely. Great job!

  5. I must live with my head in the sand. I never heard of these. And they look so scrumptious - must save for a baking day.

  6. YUM! These Nutmeg cake looks delicious & not forgetting the Nazooks are amazing! Simply yummilicious! :)

  7. Wow, you made Nutmeg Cake and Nazook !!!! You did a fantastic job on this challlenge :)
    I love nazook, it's so delicious and so easy to make!!!

  8. Wonderful job! I agree with you that the nutmeg cake was sweet. I ate mine in tiny slices with coffee, so it wasn't overpowering. I didn't get a chance to make the nazook (yet) but they look awesome! Great job!

  9. Those almonds look fantastic on top of the cake. I used 1/2 a cup less sugar than the recipe called for and found it to be just right, so I can see how using the full amount would have been quite sweet. Beautiful job on both recipes :)

  10. They look great -you did a very good job. And I love the photos...

  11. Both cake and Nazook looks perfect, you did wonderful job.

  12. Yummy cake! Great with a cup of coffee!! Ciao

  13. They both look great! I made the nutmeg cake twice and halved the sugar the second time and liked it better. I agree that the nazook are made for sharing. I made half a recipe and got loads!

  14. Lovely blog you have, I'm going to start following you right away!!! You made an amazing job doing both recipes!!


Thank you for taking the time to comment and for letting me know what you think!