April 27, 2012

Pecan Nazook (Daring Bakers Challenge)

When daydreaming about my next baking project, it is usually visions of cakes, cupcakes, and cookies that are swimming through my brain.  I'm not usually pondering Armenian pastries like nazook, which is a shame because it's delicious.  Last month, I stumbled across a website called The Daring Kitchen. Every month, it issues challenges - one for baking and one for cooking.  I saw an opportunity to expand my baking horizons, and signed on to become a Daring Baker.

The Daring Bakers are issued a challenge at the beginning of the month.  Past challenges have included tiramisu, croissants, doughnuts, opera cake, and many more.  We then post our completed challenges on the 27th of the month (that's today!).

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 chose to tackle nazook this month (we had a choice to do one or both recipes).

I decided to try a variation on the classic vanilla nazook.  I had some leftover pecans for some reason, so I ground them up and added them to the filling.  I also tried using vanilla paste for the first time in the filling (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste...YUM).

Nazook is really pretty easy to prepare and is quite tasty.  I found the sides to be a little dry, but the middle is moist and buttery and delicious.  The pecans were a yummy addition (as pecans always are) and the vanilla paste was fragrant, vanilla-y goodness.  I can't wait to feature that paste in future projects.

The morning after making nazook, my husband, some friends, and I went on a hike along the Lime Kiln Trail.  I brought the nazook, and it made an excellent snack while we rested by the river.  I need to bring baked deliciousness along for hikes more often...


Pecan Nazook
Based on Jason's aunt's recipe, which he provided to us in the challenge.

Ingredients for Dough
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
½ cup sour cream
½ cup (1 stick) softened butter (room temperature)

Ingredients for Filling
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
6 tbsp softened butter (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
¼ cup finely chopped pecans

  1. Mix the flour and yeast in a medium bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  6. Combine and mix the filling ingredients until the moisture is distributed evenly.  Try not to eat all the filling (it's delicious).
  7. Divide the refrigerated dough in half.  Roll out one half into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.
  8. Spread half of the filling evenly over the dough.  Starting at the longer end, roll the dough, trying the keep the filling evenly distributed.
  9. Pat the rolled dough down to flatten it a little.  Cut off approximately an inch from each end and eat those.
  10. Brush with egg yolk and cut into pieces about an inch wide.  Sprinkle the top with some extra pecan pieces if you have them.  Place on an un-greased cookie sheet.
  11. Repeat with the other half of the dough/filling.
  12. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes.


  1. Congrats on your first challenge! Love the look of your nazook ;) wish I made them too!
    Pozdrawiam, Anula.

  2. Great job on yor first challenge! Welcome to the club!

  3. These look lovely, I opted for the nutmeg cake and ran out of time to attempt these too. Beautiful photos by the river too!

  4. The next time I make nazooks they will have pecans in them - what a great idea! And what an excellent snack for a hike :)

  5. Wow! Those look amazing!

  6. Your nazook look beautiful! It was my first Daring Bakers challenge too :)

    1. Thanks! I'm finding the challenges to be pretty fun - I am actually getting antsy for the 1st so I can see what May's challenge will be!

  7. Well done on your first challenge - they look wonderful !

  8. The pecan Nazook looks amazing. I love your photos by the river, it looks like it was a beautiful place to picnic. I made the Armenian Nutmeg cake. If you get the chance you should give that one a try too.

    1. Yes, I wanted to give the Nutmeg cake a try, but didn't find the time!

  9. I love sweet pastries made with yeast doughs. Can't wait to try your Nazooks. ~Ann

  10. Welcome to the daring bakers
    You did a great job on your first challenge and I love your pictures

  11. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Your nazook looks great. I'm sure your friends were glad you shared!


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