Traditional Armenian Cake Chorag and Mahlab from TheArmenianKitchen.com
1 sachet of active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tbsp EACH ground mahlab, fennel seeds, anise seeds (preferably freshly ground.)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons active baking powder (see NOTE below regarding baking powder.)
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 or 2 large eggs (beaten) for gilding
Toasted sesame seeds (optional) for garnish
Melt butter in a pan. Add milk and bring to a gentle simmer (DO NOT boil). Costs.
Beat the egg and add it to the cooled milk.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (about 105-110°F). You can check the temperature with a food thermometer or by putting a drop on your wrist. If it’s comfortable for your wrist, the temperature is good. Put aside.
Mix sugar, salt, spices and baking powder together. Put aside.
Place 5 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the spice mixture mixed with the flour. Add the milk-egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the dissolved yeast and mix well.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (This can also be done in an electric stand mixer using a dough hook, but only mix for about 2 minutes.) If the dough seems a little sticky, add some of the 1/2 cup of extra flour that has not been used before.
Place the dough in a large clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then cover with a towel. Allow 2 hours for the dough to rise.
Break off about a golf ball-sized piece of dough (about 2 ounces for each piece). Roll it into a long thin cord, about 15 inches in length. Break off about a third (5 inches) of the dough. Shape the longer piece of dough into a horseshoe or “U” shape. Place the shorter piece of dough in the center of the “U” and start braiding the 3 strips of dough.
Place braided dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Continue shaping the dough until the tray is full. (Do not place the chorags too close to each other.
Give them room to expand while cooking.)
Cover the uncooked chorags with plastic wrap and allow the shaped dough to rise on the tray for 1 more hour before baking. Remove plastic wrap and brush top with egg wash. Sprinkle the tops of the chorags with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.
Bake at 375°F. Start by placing 1 baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven until the bottoms of the chorags are golden brown (about 15 minutes). Then transfer the tray to the upper rack until the top of the chorag is golden brown (about 5 more minutes). Cool the chorags completely on wire racks. Continue this process until all the dough is shaped and baked.
Store the completely cooled chorag in a container with an airtight lid. If you plan to freeze them, layer the chorags in a plastic storage container with parchment paper or plastic wrap placed between the layers to prevent them from sticking together. Alternatively, the chorags can be frozen in freezer bags. Chorags can be thawed in the microwave by simply wrapping each chorag in a slightly damp paper towel and microwave for about 20-30 seconds on low power or until thawed. Serve them anytime with coffee, tea, Armenian string cheese or an assortment of cheeses and fruits.
NOTE: Before you start, test the baking powder to make sure it is “working”. To do this, simply sprinkle a little baking powder in a small amount of tap water. If active, the yeast will fizz and froth.
For this recipe and how-to video, go to: https://thearmeniankitchen.com/savory-or-sweet-its-still-chorag/
Mahlab Cake Courtesy of Robyn Kalajian
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup hot milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons ground mahlab
1 teaspoon baking powder
Sesame seeds, optional
In a large mixing bowl, cut the butter into the sugar using a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should be crumbly and look like peas. Then mix the butter-sugar crumbles until homogeneous. Beat eggs until just combined. Put aside.
NOTE: A food processor fitted with a metal “S” blade can also be used. Pulse the butter-sugar mixture for a few seconds to melt the butter. Return the crumbly mixture to a mixing bowl to continue.
In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, mahlab and baking powder. Alternately add the flour mixture and warm milk to the butter mixture to create a paste.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or cake pan large enough to hold the batter, such as two 8″ x 8″ cake pans or one 9″ x 13″ pan.
Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the top with toasted sesame seeds, if desired. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut the cake into squares and serve with coffee or tea.
Servings: The cake makes 12-16 servings, depending on the size of the pieces.
For this recipe, go to: https://thearmeniankitchen.com/a-lesson-in-mahlab-mahleb/
See also: 32 recipes made with mahlab on:https://cookpad.com/us/search/mahlab
Robyn Kalajian is a retired cooking teacher with a passion for Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Her husband Douglas is a retired author and journalist who has written extensively on Armenian cuisine and culture. Please visit their website for more recipes and how-to videos.
Go to: https://thearmeniankitchen.com/
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