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!

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Traditional Salted Caramel Fudge with Sultanas

Ever since my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I have been lusting after the fudge like Burfi sweets which I tried there.  These come in a variety of flavours and are generally based on ground nuts such as almonds or pistachios, milk or coconut.  They can also me made with sweetened condensed milk, although I’m not sure this is entirely authentic!

Sri Lankan Burfi in a variety of flavours

After extensive internet research I decided to make a coconut burfi recipe (post to follow), but also to make a traditional fudge recipe as I was in possession of a new thermometer and wanted to try it out.  Both sweets turned out well and were not difficult to make.

For the fudge I used a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage everyday‘.  This is a traditional fudge recipe, based on cream and butter, rather than sweetened condensed milk or marshmallow creme, (I presume this is an American invention!).  The recipe in the book is for a vanilla fudge, but I decided that with the substitute of white to brown sugar this  was close enough to caramel to warrant salt, (salted caramel is my current sweet obsession!), and threw in a few sultanas as I really like fudge with nuts or sultanas in it.

It’s very moreish, highly unhealthy and totally delicious.  It set very well and cut into nice cubes, so perhaps would be suitable for presents as well.

Salted Caramel Fudge with Sultanas (Based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Vanilla Fudge)
Makes 30ish squares

  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup (I omitted this as can’t get it here)
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/ essence

1.  Put the sugar, syrup, butter and cream into a large saucepan, you need plenty of room for the mixture to bubble as it boils.

2.  Melt and combine over a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

3.  Turn up the heat, stop stirring and bring to the boil with the sugar thermometer in the pan. Boil until the mixture reaches soft ball stage – 116C.

4.  Remove the pan from the heat, remove the sugar thermometer and leave to stand for 10 mins.
5.  Meanwhile lightly oil a 15cm x 22cm baking dish.

6.  After resting the mixture for 10 mins, add the vanilla extract and beat until the mixture thickens and starts to come away from the base of the pan, about 8 minutes with electric whisk.

7.  Put the fudge mixture into the baking dish, smooth the top and leave to cool.

8.  When quite cold mark it into squares and leave for about 4 hours to firm up, then take out of the dish and store in an airtight tin.

Daring Bakers November Challenge – Sans Rival Cake

This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge and I will definitely be back for more.  Not only has it opened my eyes to a whole new cultural cuisine, but also introduced me to new baking techniques and skills.    Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake!  This is made up of crunchy layers of dacquoise (meringue with crushed nuts- traditionally cashews), sandwiched together with layers of smooth French butter cream.

It tastes as good as it sounds, really delicious!  Super rich and sweet as you can imagine from the ingredients list, so a small piece does the job, but  it had great flavour and textures.  I made a chocolate butter cream for the outside and vanilla for the filling, with a chocolate meringue with almond meal as that was the easiest to find!  I think in the future I would grind the nuts myself, leaving bigger pieces, as I think even more crunch and texture would be better.

I was really impressed with the French butter cream, having only ever made it the quick icing sugar and butter blend it all up way.  The French version, with  sugar syrup, did take a lot longer and was more labour intensive, but the finished product was far superior with a richer and creamier taste, and smoother texture.  I’ll definitely be using it as my staple butter cream if I have a bit of time in the future! I did run out of butter cream in this recipe and had to make a second half quantity, so I recommend doing this from the start as it’s quite time consuming.

Making meringue was  a bit of a gamble, as my oven is far from reliable and doesn’t actually seem to cook from the top.  However, as the oven also doesn’t seem to ever get really hot it was actually quite good for meringue, although it still took two hours to get crispy layers.  As presentation is never my strong point, I coated the sides with white and dark chocolate shards to hide uneven edges!

A Filipino friend said it tasted as it was meant to, so I was pretty satisfied.  I am also inspired to try more Filipino food, as I’ve never really investigated or tried to cook it before.  If it’s all as good as this cake, I think I’ll be cooking a lot in the future!

Sans Rival:
Serves 12-20 (depends how much you can eat, It’s pretty rich!!)

Ingredients
10 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  cream of tartar ( I didn’t have this so substituted 1 tsp white wine vinegar)
¼ cup  cocoa (optional and not traditional)
1 cup chopped, toasted almonds coarsely chopped (for topping)

1 cup almond meal or finely crushed almonds.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderate 160°C
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides  well, it sticks!.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar or vinegar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)

4. Fold in finely crushed  nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

5.Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.

7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream: ( quantities are for 1 1/2 times original recipe to give plenty to cover and fill cake)

Ingredients
8 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3/4cup water
2 cup  unsalted butter, room temperature

50g dark chocolate melted to flavour

1 tsp vanilla essence to flavour
Directions:

1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful!

4.Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins).

5. Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.

6. Divide in half and add melted chocolate to one half and vanilla essence to the other half.

7.  Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
Assembly:
Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with coarse nuts and chocolate shards if you’re a little untidy!

Refrigerate until ready to serve, as this makes it much easier to cut.  May freeze.