Friday, April 27, 2012

Armenian Nazook and 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.
           When I studied at the university in Moscow, my parents who lived in the south of Russia used to send me parcels every month. I always looked forward to getting them: I knew that among other goodies I would definitely find a sweet treat from my mom: home-made gata. She spent her childhood in a house in the centre of the city where they had Armenians as their neighbours. No wonder, she learnt a lot about their national cuisine and gata was one of the things that she cooked quite often for my brother and me.

            When I saw a foto of this month challenge, I was astonished: it seemed we are gonna be making gata! On reading the instructions, however, I realized that it was another Armenian dessert which looked exactly the same: nazook. There is a small difference between them: nazook has yeast in yet, while gata is made simply with buttermilk; the filling for nazook is just mixed, in case of gata sugar, butter and flour are cooked over low heat before being spread over the rolled-out dough. Anyway, both types of Armenian “cookies” are very flavourful and serve as a great tea-time snack.

            Armenian nutmeg cake was also a good accomplishment for our tea (and coffee) break! Actually I’ve never heard of this dessert before (neither did my mom despite the fact that she had a profound Armenian culinary background!) and was eager to try it. The walnuts that I sprinkled on top sank during the baking time and I had to add a handful of some more before serving the cake. Nevertheless, the cake was very moist, with a good hint of nutmeg and although I found the crust too sweet for me, it had a good texture and caramel flavor provided by the brown sugar.

            All in all, it was a great challenge since it brought back my childhood memories and gave me an impetus to broaden my (as well as my mum’s) gastronomic outlook on Armenian cuisine!




The original recipe by Jason (


Pastry dough
3 cups plain flour, sifted
2½ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup sour cream
1 cup softened butter (room temperature)

1 ½ cups plain flour, sifted
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup softened butter (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 egg yolks


1. For pastry dough, place the sifted flour into a large bowl. 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. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight.
2. For 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.
3. Preheat the oven to 175°C. 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 ¼ 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 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. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.

Nutmeg Cake

The original recipe by Jason (


1 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups plain) flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup butter, preferably unsalted, cubed
1/2 cup walnut pieces, may need a little more
1 to 1-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg


1. Preheat your oven to 175°C. Mix the baking soda into the milk. Set it aside. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar. Toss in the cubed butter. 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. Take half of this resulting crumbly mixture into your springform (23cm) pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles.

2. Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl. Toss the nutmeg in with the egg. Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed. Once it's mixed well and frothy (about 1 minute), pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix that well, with either a paddle attachment, or a spatula.
3. Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes. You'll know it's done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan, and then release.


  1. Your cake and pastries are gorgeous! How interesting about the similarities between the nazook and gata. The nazook was so good it makes me want to try gata!

  2. KUDOS in making both! That's daring indeed :)
    Nice photos and both the cake and nazook look delicious!
    Pozdrawiam, Anula.


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