Daring Bakers Challenge April 2012: Nazooks

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 made the Nazook, half with the traditional vanilla filling and half with an almond meal chocolate filling.  They were both great, although I slightly preferred the chocolate (always do!).  The pastry is easy, buttery and delicious and could easily be used for a whole range of fillings, both sweet and savoury.

Nazook

approx 40 pieces

Ingredients
Pastry dough

  • 3 cups  all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup softened butter (room temperature)

Vanilla Filling (makes enough to fill half the dough)

  • 3/4 cup  all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup  sugar
  • 1/3 cup softened butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Almond Filling (makes enough to fill the rest of the dough)

  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter softened
  • 2 teaspoon cocoa
  • pinch on salt

Wash

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

Directions:

Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Mix in dry yeast.
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. 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. In a small bowl, 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.

10.  In a separate bowl combine chocolate almond filling ingredients and set this aside too

Make the nazook
11. Preheat the oven to moderate 180 degrees C.
12. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
13. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
14. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.

15. 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.
16. 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.

17. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
18. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.

19.  Cut into 1 inch slices and place on paper lined tray

20. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, cool and enjoy!

Nutmeg cake to follow shortly!

Momofuku Cereal Milk Ice Cream

This is without a doubt my favourite ice cream recipe I have made in the ice cream maker to date.  It is incredibly smooth and creamy, which is not always what you expect from a cheap churning home ice cream maker, but with this recipe the ice cream turns out more like a commercial ice cream texture, but better.  It’s possibly one of the best ice creams I have had anywhere.

Being a massive fan of cereal the flavour was also particularly attractive to me.  It tasted exactly like the milk left at the end of a bowl of breakfast cereal, sweet and malty.  The caramelized cornflakes were the perfect crispy, slightly salty contrast to the smooth ice cream- not to mention tasty ( I made have had to make a few extra batches as I kept eating them all!).

I also made a chocolate cereal milk version of this ice cream, with more or less the same ingredients, but using chocolate cereal flakes instead of cornflakes, also very tasty!

CEREAL MILK ICE CREAM RECIPE (From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook)

Caramelized Cornflakes

  • 280g cornflakes
  • 55g  nonfat dry milk powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 185g unsalted butter, melted

Cereal Milk (approximately 1 cup):

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 400g caramelized cornflakes

Cereal Milk Ice Cream (makes approximately 3,5 cups):

  • 1 cup whipping cream cream
  • 1 cup cereal milk (see ingredients above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 110g caramelized cornflakes, to serve

Caramelized cornflakes,

1.  Preheat  oven to 140 C.

2.  Put  cornflakes in a large mixing bowl and crush them with your hands a few times.

3.  Combine milk powder, sugar and salt in another bowl, give it a stir and set aside.

4.  Add the melted butter to the cornflakes and then the sugar mixture and toss to combine.

5.  Spread over two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven until they caramelize, (approx35 minutes). Remove and let cool to room temperature

Cereal milk

1.  Combine 400g of caramelized cornflakes and milk in a large mixing bowl and let steep for an hour (I left it overnight in the fridge, hoping for more flavour, which worked well)

2. Strain the milk with the help of a fine-mesh sieve (o press on the cornflakes  to extract as much liquid as possible).

3.Strain once again (through a finer sieve or cheesecloth this time), pour it in a container and set aside.

Cereal milk ice cream

Cereal Milk Ice cream (pictured with strawberry cheesecake ice cream)

1.  Pour the heavy cream in a medium bowl and place it in the fridge until needed.

2. Combine cereal milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.

3.In the meantime,  whisk together egg yolks.

4.  Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the yolks while whisking constantly.

5. Place over medium heat and stir until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, (don’t heat too high, as eggs with scramble!)

6.  Pour the custard through a strainer into the chilled heavy cream and stir to combine.

7.  Chill the mixture, then freeze it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve sprinkled with remaining cornflakes.


I think the Momofuku birthday cake will have to be next on my list!

Banana Caramel Peanut Butter Loaf

This was another Daring Bakers’ Challenge quick bread recipe.  The loaf turned out more of a peanut loaf than anything else, the peanut butter and whole peanuts seemed to dominate the flavor, so you couldn’t really taste the bananas much in the end.  It may be better with a reduced amount of peanuts, or using another more subtle nut, such as the more traditional walnut-banana combo!

Banana Caramel Peanut Butter Loaf (adapted from Dan Lepard’s Butterscotch Banana Cake.)

250g caster sugar

250g banana flesh, chopped into 2cm pieces

1 tbsp butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

175ml sunflower oil

2 large eggs

150g plain flour

75g  wholemeal flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 level tsp baking powder

½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda

50ml plain yoghurt

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup whole salted peanuts

1 cup chopped dates

1.  Grease a 20cm square tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

2. Put 150g of the caster sugar into a frying pan with 25ml water, bring to the boil, then cook over a high heat until the sugar caramelizes.

3.  Add the banana pieces, butter and vanilla, and simmer until the bananas break up in the caramel and the mixture is thick.

4.  Leave to cool on a plate.

5.  Beat the remaining 100g sugar with the oil and eggs until thick

6.  Then beat in the bananas, peanut butter and the yoghurt.

7.  Sift the flours, spice, baking powder and soda together two or three times (throwing the bran back in), then fold this through the banana mixture.  .

8.  Fold in whole peanuts and chopped dates.

9.Spoon the mixture into the tin, heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted) and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Serve with salted caramel whipped cream (recipe below)

Salted Caramel Whipped Cream

1 cup whipped cream

1 Tbsp Dulce de Leche

1/2 tsp salt

Combine ingredients and serve. 

Chocolate con Churros…delicious but deadly

The British do fairly well on the unhealthy breaky front.  Think of a Full English, laden with bacon, sausages, eggs, toast with butter, beans, hash browns and all generously coated with a layer of tasty grease.  There is however, the odd chance of a vegetable sneaking in, be it a juicy tomato, a few fried mushrooms and hey, baked beans are veggies after all.

The Spanish have gone one up with the creation of churros, usually served with a side of chocolate for dunking, and possibly containing no nutritional benefit whatsoever aside from an excessive calorie injection.  According to some, churros  originated in the mountains of Spain, where shepherds cooked these doughnut like treats using only a pan and oil.  They were then eaten plain or dipped in sugar.  All very well if you are spending your day climbing mountains after reckless sheep and nights literally freezing off your fat!

Another theory as to their origin is that they were brought to Portugal from China when the Portuguese returned from the Ming Dynasty.  Although as they had not learned to ‘pull’ the dough, as the Chinese did, they started to pipe the dough, giving a star shaped product. Whichever theory is correct, they are now widely available all over Spain and South America.

Over time, churros con chocolate have morphed into the ultimate post party snack/breakfast.  Now everything happens just a little bit later in Spain, so generally young people are leaving the nightclubs after a night on the town at about 7am, obviously the perfect time for a quick breaky before heading home to sleep off the hangover for the entire day.

The churros themselves resemble long thin piped deep fried doughnuts and the chocolate, well, that’s what it is, literally a cup of melted chocolate, in which to dip your churros.  It is full on.  Definitely not a breakfast for the faint hearted, health conscious, or those at high risk of heart attack.  It does hit the spot after a night out on the town and a few drinks still in the belly to cloud the judgment though.

Portions are generally big, and in my experience the half way point is the limit, as this seems to be when I start to almost feel my arteries clogging as I continue to eat.  Despite this, if you get good ones, they are pretty amazing. The soft centered, crispy dough with a rich, creamy coating of thick molten chocolate is a pretty intense experience.  I have not tried making them as yet, they are pretty cheap and not the sort of thing you want to eat on a regular basis.  Best left for nights out that turn into mornings, where half the experience is hanging around the door of the Churreria at 5am to wait for it to open.

The whole thing is not particularly sweet.  I have never had Churros coated with sugar in Spain, although apparently they do exist.  I have found in general that they have a slightly salty almost savory flavour and the dipping chocolate is thick and rich, but not really sweet either.  The flavour, however, can vary from region to region in Spain, as can the shape.  In the South, churros are thicker and fatter (known as Purros elsewhere), whilst in the North they are thinner and with a harder outer coating.  They can also be found stuffed with chocolate cream, dulce de leche or vanilla, although these are more popular in Brazil and Mexico.  There is even a savory cheese stuffed version popular in Uruguay!

Well, love them or hate them, unlike so many foods these days, churros are never portrayed to be a health food.  You know what you are getting yourself into when you bite into that crispy fried shell, so enjoy.  Just not too often!

Churros con chocolate at Valour- perfect hangover fix?