A Golden Sweet Pastry

Nazook

I must admit, my recent interest in tea pastries and confections arose from my desire to use my newly acquired glass teapot. The teapot is so adorable but since this is not the subject of this  post , I must stop gushing about it at the moment. In Persian culture, tea is ubiquitous in every household during every moment of the day. “Chai”,as it is called, is usually served with something sweet such as dried dates , “gaz” a  pistachio nougat, “zulbia” sweet fritters , “noghl” an almond coated with syrup and a lot more. You can even have it with sugar cubes; what you do is put a sugar cube in your mouth and let the heat of the tea dissolve it as you drink, quite addictive if you ask me. There are also saffron infused sugar crystals, which as you can imagine, add that special flavor to the tea that only saffron can impart. A treat that I consider having with my tea is  “nazuk”  which is a flaky pastry filled with a sweet mixture. This is an excellent pastry that can be eaten practically anytime of the day, however my favorite time to have it is with afternoon tea. Also known as Armenian Christmas pastry , it takes a while to prepare since the dough needs to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. But the time and effort taken to make this wonderful golden pastry can be more than justified with every bite of baked goodness.

Dough

1 package active yeast

1 cup sour cream (room temperature)

1 egg

1 tbs. vegetable oil

1 tbs. vinegar

3 cups sifted all purpose flour plus flour for kneading

1 cup unsalted butter (chilled)

pinch of salt

Filling

1 cup butter melted

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Glaze

3 eggs yolks , beaten

1 tsp. yoghurt

            Leave the sour cream out for an hour or more until it gets to room temperature. Afterwards, add the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pulse the flour, salt and butter together until it is crumbly. Add the egg, vegetable oil, vinegar and sour cream and pulse until it gets “doughy” (the food processor comes to a point when it would not pulse any more). Take the dough out of the food processor and knead over a dusting of flour for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is no longer sticky. Form into a ball and cut an “X” on the dough, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours

            To make the filling, mix together 1 cup of the melted butter and 2 cups of flour. Add 1-½ cups of sugar and 1 tsp vanilla; stir constantly for 1 minute, so the mixture does not stick your hands and becomes smooth and even. Set aside.

            Preheat oven to 350 °F.

            Remove dough from refrigerator; divide into 8 equal balls. Place each ball lightly on a floured surface and proceed to roll it out to 10 x 6 inch rectangle with a rolling pin. Paint each rectangle with melted butter and spread about ¼ cup of the filling around the rectangle. Cover it with parchment and go over it lightly with a rolling pin. Fold the edges in ½ inch and roll up the dough into a cylinder. With the palm of your hand gently flatten the cylinder lengthwise. Cut the roll on a diagonal with a sharp knife into 2 inch slices. Arrange the pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet (you might have to use two baking sheets) about 2 inches apart. Brush the surface with the glaze making sure you cover as much exterior as possible.

            Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until a golden brown color is attained.

            Remove baking sheet from the oven and let cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

COOKING NOTES:

            This recipe is loosely adapted from “New Food of Life” by Najmieh Batmanglij. I adjusted some ingredients and procedures to what made more sense to me. The resulting dough is very easy to work with, just make sure to roll it out as thin as possible and cut excess dough to make the shape a rectangle; this will make the dough easier to roll into a cylinder. Flatten the cylinder to a little bit less than ½ an inch. As the pastry bakes it will start to puff up and you do not want it to be too thick.  Be liberal with the glaze since this is what gives the “nazuk” its golden color. This pastry is best eaten within 3 days; albeit as delectable as it tastes it would be surprising to see any left after that amount of time.

29 thoughts on “A Golden Sweet Pastry

  1. I found this recipe when trying to reproduce a store-bought product, (called NAZOOK), made by a Portland, OR baker. I made the following alterations to make it closer to their product.
    1) I reduced the butter in the pastry to 1/2 cup. This made it less like shortbread and more like a yeasted pastry, and provided for more contrast between the pastry and the filling.
    2) I doubled the filling and added to the total, 1 large egg white. This gave a nice texture to the filling and a gave a soft, satisfying crunch to the part that flowed out the sides.
    I also couldn't resist adding a touch of sugar to the sour cream so the yeast would react better, and let the pastry rise for a bit before baking.
    I was very pleased with these results and I think you will be too.

  2. I HAVE BEEN SEEKING "HIGH & LOW" ON THE INTERNET FOR SAFFRON SUGAR CUBES–BUT NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! CAN YOU GIVE ME ANY SUGGESTIONS? THANK YOU.

  3. Hi Zena, a culture is something that has live fermenting bacterias like lactibacillus strains. Health food store usually sell packets of them that you can add to milk. Just follow instructions on the packet. You can also use yoghurt to add to milk to make more yoghurt.

  4. hmmn…I'm not sure if you can use yoghurt I've never done it this way. I did not know yoghurt could be made from sour cream and vinegar, I always made mine by adding a culture to milk.

  5. Since the recipe calls for Sour Cream and vinegar… wouldn't that just make a yogurt?
    So, could you use yogurt instead?

  6. r.baker – I'm glad that you tried it out. :)This recipe is used by a lot of my Persian friends too and they said it produces a very authentic nazuk. Thanks also for letting me know about the butter, I checked the book and it said 1 cup. I shall update this post to reflect that.

  7. Thanks for this recipe. I have an Armenian friend who introduced me to this pastry from a local Armenian bakery. This pastry is my friend's favorite so I thought I should try to make it for her. The recipe is easy and tasted so good. My friend said they tasted better than the bakery. One suggestion though, for those who has no food processor, I used my hand to incorporate the butter with the flour. (the amount of butter was not specified in the recipe so I used 1-stick of butter and it worked out well) Then I used my mixer to mix the dough.
    I am making some more because it didn't last very long.

  8. I saw this entry in the DMBLGT gallery and I had to comment. This is perhaps one of my favorite Persian/Armenian pastries of all time. A local ethnic store carries it but I had honestly thought it was one of those pastries that was incredibly intricate to make . I would have never thought of making it myself until I saw this recipe. Thank you!

  9. Sarina – glad I can offer an idea for your tea party. :)
    Thanks Kristen! Definitely try the sugar cube.
    T.W. – he..hee.. funny you should mention "Mariage Freres" because that is where I got my teapot. I woke up at 5am to call Paris ;). I shall check out Dean and Delucca , thanks!

  10. Veronica, this looks like a delectable pastry, and the glass tea pot looks charming, too! I am an Afternoon Tea affictionado and for many years hosted a Christmas Tea as my holiday event. The French tea company "Mariage Freres" makes a Christmas tea called "Esprit de Noel" which would go so well with this. It's available through Dean & Delucca.

  11. Hi Robin – yes the yeast is added to the sour cream. The sour cream has to be at room temperature so the yeast can be activated. Let me know how it turns out. :)

  12. I’ve been eyeing this beautiful teapot for the longest time…is it the “Sultan” with the metal handle?

  13. hello veronica,
    i am armenian/iranian and my mum ALWAYS goes on your website to check this recipie. she makes it at LEAST 3 times a week for 12 years, and STILL cant remeber the recipie !!!
    btw, you are doing an amazing job with the recipies!!! keep it up !!!

  14. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I have been searching for this for years. We buy these from a local bakery, but being a baker myself I’ve always wanted to try them myself. This recipe is wonderful!

  15. Hello, I have been buying nazook from a bakery in Portland, OR I absolutly loved it. I searched the internet and found this recipie, really the only one I could find. After making this I am happily supprised to find it EXACTLY like the one I buy from the bakery. A lot of work but well worth it. Got to go do my dishes! Thanks!

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