Thursday, June 5, 2014


A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing the bakery department at my local grocery store when I came across "Nazook". What the heck is "Nazook"? I'd never heard of it, but it looked good. Anytime the bakery department has some sort of rolled filled goodie, I can't resist. They looked a lot like Rugelach, which BTW, I love, so I assumed I'd like these as well. Did I buy them, no, of course not, I immediately ran home and Googled Nazook. Seriously, if store bought is good, home made HAS to be better. 

What I learned is that Nazook is a traditional Armenian pastry. A buttery yeast dough filled with more butter and sugar and sometimes almonds. Butter and sugar and almonds? I'm in! So I Googled a bit more, read a handful of recipes (because I don't have an Armenian Nana to show me how), watched a couple of videos and decided to give it a go. . .

For the dough: AP flour, active dry yeast, sour cream and butter (softened to room temperature).

Stir together the flour and yeast. Add the sour cream and butter and mix using your hands or the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.

If working the dough by hand, knead for 10 minutes until smooth and no longer sticky. If using the mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough cleans the side of the bowl, is smooth and not sticky. Add a bit more flour if necessary.

Cover and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.

For the filling: AP flour, ground almonds, sugar, softened butter, vanilla and almond extract.

Stir together the flour, ground almonds, and sugar.

Using a fork, or your fingers, work the butter into the mixture. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and continue working the mixture into crumbs.

It should be pretty crumbly but still moist. If you squeeze some in your fist, it should hold together but then crumble apart easily.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll one piece into a rectangle on a well floured surface. Dough should be thin ± 1/8 of an inch but not so thin that it's transparent. My rectangle ended up to be about 10" x 13".

Sprinkle 1/4 of the filling over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch along one long side free of filling. Break up the filling with your fingers so you don't have any big clumps.

Roll up the dough lengthwise being careful to stretch the dough over the filling and not push the filling out to the edge. This should be a fairly tight roll with the seam along the bottom. Square up the ends and pat the roll down just a bit.

Cut into generous 1-inch pieces and place on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet. They can actually be about 1-inch apart, a bit closer than I'm showing here. (You should get about 10 pieces from each roll)

Make a simple egg wash by beating a whole egg with some cream or plain yogurt. You can also just use egg and water. I'd recommend the cream or yogurt for a shinier finish.* Brush the tops of the Nazook with the egg wash.
* I didn't use the cream, just egg and water and mine didn't turn out as shiny as the pictures I saw on the web. Next time, I'll use the cream in the egg wash and use a bit more wash per Nazook.

 Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool and repeat the rolling and filling with the remaining portions of dough.

My whole family really liked these. I'm not sure if they turned out like they are supposed too, I've never had them before so I don't have a bases for comparison. I do know they were great with coffee. Not sure if I'd call this a cookie or a pastry. They are flakey, buttery and almondy but not too sweet. Remember, there isn't any sugar in the dough. They remind me a lot of Rugelach but the dough is less dense and more flakey. Kind of like a flakey buttery bread with a bit of almond sweetness. Anywho, they were good and you should give 'em a try.

Rise and Shine Blog: Sweet Almond Nazook
Video tutorial on Hub Pages: Nazook Recipe

adapted from:
3 C. all-purpose flour, sifted
1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 C. (8oz.) sour cream
1 C. (2 sticks) softened butter 
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. ground almonds
1 C. granulated sugar
3/4 C. (1-1/2 sticks) softened butter
1t. vanilla extract
1t. almond extrace
Egg wash:
1 egg + 2T. plain yogurt or cream

Make the Pastry Dough:
Sift the 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. 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. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.

Make the filling:
Mix together flour, sugar, and  softened butter. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long.

Make the Nazook:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. 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 (about 10”x13”). The dough should be about 1/8” thin, but not transparent. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. 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). Beat the egg well with the yogurt or cream and apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush. Cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place in an oven preheated to 350F for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
10. Allow to cool and enjoy!

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