Monday, November 26, 2012


Yesterday was a very successful day for me.  I have been wanting to make Armenian foods for years - basically since I met Mark.  Yes, I have made hummus and pita bread, but that wasn't enough for me; I wanted to make something really Armenian: lahmajoon or boreg or fatoush.  Or... choreg.  Yes, choreg (pronounced to rhyme with good egg), the slightly sweet braided yeast rolls, topped with sesame seeds, that I have been obsessed with since Mark's parents introduced me to them.  They know I love them so much that they buy me bags full of them every year at their church's food bazaar. But I always knew I had to try to make them myself.  After all, I adore baking yeast breads, and I adore choregs, so I began frantically searching for recipes, and that's when I found the problem: there are a thousand different choreg recipes and few of them looked or sounded like the delicious little rolls I get from the Ajemians at the Armenian Holy Trinity on Grove Street in Worcester, MA! I even asked Mark's mom, who said she used to bake them with her mother-in-law's recipe, but she couldn't find it.  So imagine my excitement when I noticed on Facebook, right before Thanksgiving, Mark's aunt Julie wrote something about how she just finished baking up a big batch of choregs!  I immediately sent her a message, and - thank you SO much, Julie! - she sent it right to me.  I was so excited, but with Thanksgiving craziness sinking in, I didn't have the time to try it out - until yesterday :)

pretty braids!
Now, the recipe calls for 8 1/2  - 9 cups of flour, which is practically an entire bag.  I had seen recipes calling for 5 pounds of flour and immediately ignored them - and then, of course, that's basically what Grammy Ajemian's recipe calls for!  Trust me, you will want to use that much flour, and many cups more when it comes time to roll out the rolls, because this dough is sticky!  It also took me about 3 hours to rise, rather than 2, but honestly there is just so much dough that it's no wonder it takes a long time.  When it's risen, the original recipe says to cut the dough into rolls, but I know the choregs I get from the church are braided, so after some more internet searching I found out a way to do it: Roll a golf ball-sized dough ball into a long (18 inches or so) rope; tear off 1/3 of it.  Then take the longer piece and make a horseshoe shape with it.  Take the little piece, moosh it right into the middle, and voila: you have three strips of dough to braid.  There was so much dough that this part of the recipe took me forever, and I started making enormous choreg, but in the end, I had 21 braids of dough ready to bake.  I topped them with an egg wash and sprinkled sesame seeds on top, and baked them.  The house smelled absolutely delicious while they were cooking, and I could hardly wait to try them as soon as they came out of the oven.  I can honestly say this might be one of the best things I have made; I have been told as much by multiple family members.  They even got Anne to break her no-carb diet!  I've eaten way more than my fair share, and I am now regretting my idea to make huge choregs because it means I ended up with less rolls, and they are going fast!  These are definitely weekend-type things to bake, because of the time it takes to let the dough rise and then form the rolls, but 100% worth it.  I am still thrilled that Mark's family enjoyed them.  I am going to be such a good Armenian housewife someday :)

I also decided to beextra  nice and make Mark's favorite dessert, banana cream pie, last night.  Apparently, though, my mistake was wanting to make everything from scratch.  He kept whining that insant banana pudding would be better than my homemade pastry cream with cinnamon and nutmeg!  I made my own pie crust (used my mixer this time... just as easy as the food processor but maybe a tiny bit slower), made the pastry cream on the stove (very similar to when I was on a roll making homemade pudding last winter), and made my own whipped cream for the topping.  I layered bananas and pastry cream a couple times, and topped it with my whipped cream.  My only problem was my lack of pie weights; I had to bake the empty crust empty, so it puffed up in one area and I had to fork it to let the air out.  Add to my stocking stuffer list (Mama!).  In the end, the pie was delicious.  In fact, Nick said it was one of the best desserts I have ever made, and he is a tough sell.  Kenzie, Alex and Mom have all complimented me on it.  And as for Mark?  He says it is very good, but not banana cream pie.  He calls it banana spice pie; he really had his heart set on that banana pudding, so my spiced pastry cream has him all confused :)  As I type this, he is having another piece tonight and announcing that "it is delish delish.... but I think of it as a banana spice pie." :)  I had my first piece today, and even though the recipe said it was best served the day it's made, it seemed perfect to me after a night in the refrigerator; it could definitely be made a day ahead.

banana cream pie

Armenian choreg

1 stick butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 cup of room temperture water ( 1/2 cup boiling water 1/2 cup cold water)
4 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
4 large eggs,  beaten
8 1/2 - 9 cups of flour (I used 9)
         for egg wash glaze:  1 whole egg, beaten
                                           sesame seeds for top

1)   Cut butter and Crisco into small pieces and add to a large bowl.
2)  Add 1 teaspoon sugar.
3)  Add 2 cups boiling water and mix well with wooden spoon till the shortening and the butter are completely melted.
4)  Add 1 cup room temperature water.
5)  Check that this mixture is warm to touch.
6)  Sprinkle the yeast onto the mixture and gently fold in.
7)  Allow mixture to stand for 3-5 minutes or until yeast is activated ( watch for froth under surface).
8)  Mix well.
9)  Add 1 cup sugar, salt, and beaten eggs, and mix well.
10)  Add flour in stages and mix.
11)  Form into dough ( will be a soft dough).
12) Place in a greased bowl (grease bowl with 1 tsp. olive oil) and cover with a clean towel.  Wrap bowl with towels to keep warm.
13) Allow dough to rise to double its size about, 2-3 hours.
14) Turn onto floured counter.
15. You have two options for shaping: 
  • Easy option: cut into pieces: 2 inch wide by 4 inch wide roll shape.
  • Harder but pretty option: Roll a golf ball-sized dough ball into a 16-18" rope; tear off 1/3 of it. Take the longer piece and make a horseshoe shape with it. Take the little piece, moosh it right into the middle of the horseshoe, and braid the three strips.
16) Place onto trays lined with parchment paper.
17) Allow rolls to rise double their size.
18) Glaze with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
19) Bake at 375 degrees  for 10 - 15 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.

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