Elmass Avedisian’s Famous Choreg/Walnut Rolls

Elmass Avedisian’s Famous Choreg/Walnut Rolls

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(Recipes and photos courtesy Nancy Egoian Mugrdechian and Arnell Avedisian Work)

FRESNO — Elmass Edith Avedisian was born in Fresno on November 27, 1928 to Harold and Araxie Aloojian, and passed away on November 29, 2019 at the age of 91. She was preceded in death by her Armenian immigrant parents, her devoted husband of 61 years, Arthur Ardash “Ace” Avedisian, and her three loving sisters Annette Egoian, Louise Avakian and Harriett Aloojian.

During her childhood, Elmass’ family lived on a small farm on Locan Avenue in Sanger where they specialized in dried and candied fruit. Elmass and her sisters would spend many hours helping pick the various crops which included grapes, apricots, peaches and boysenberries. They worked in the cannery cutting and arranging fruit on drying trays with their parents, and canning fruits and vegetables for the winter months.

Elmass attended elementary school in Sanger and Sanger High School. As she grew up, her interests included bowling with her friends and attending musical events and dances at Fresno’s historic Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. Elmass enjoyed singing in the church choir on Sundays, and had special family memories of playing music, dancing, and singing with her multi-talented sisters through the years.

One summer day, Elmass and her sisters decided to go swimming at Fresno’s Weymouth Swimming Pool that had opened in 1934 on West Whitesbridge Road. While at the pool, a friend named Ron Bakarian introduced Elmass to the love of her life, Art Avedisian. The couple were married in Fresno on July 29, 1950.

If you visited the Avedisian house you would automatically be treated like family, and were invited to enjoy whatever delicious meal or dessert Elmass had prepared that day, her children remember. One of Elmass’ specialties was her famous Elmo Burgers. She excelled at canning large batches of vegetables and Armenian cucumbers (gootah) in the summer, and make homemade yalanchi grape leaves and dolma for endless family meals and celebrations. When Art retired in 1979, the couple were both the happiest when their backyard was filled with family and friends enjoying their popular family barbeque meals.

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Elmass was a member of the Holy Trinity Ladies’ Guild in Fresno for many years. Throughout her married life, Elmass took great pleasure in cooking, baking, and preparing tray after tray of Armenian gata, cheese boureg, and her famous choreg/walnut rolls for her growing family. Any time a friend or neighbor would stop by for a visit, Elmass made sure they left with a bag of choreg/walnut rolls and whatever else she had made in her kitchen that day.

“My mom often baked these choreg/walnut rolls in the winter time and around the holidays. I remember my mom and my grandmother baking their recipes in our kitchen — we would all sit around waiting patiently until these rolls were out of the oven,” says Arnell Avedisian Work, one of Elmass’ daughters. “They are buttery and delicious — this is one of her best recipes that we enjoyed while growing up…”

In 2005, Elmass and Art sold their family home on Clark Avenue and purchased a mobile home at the Woods Mobile Park on Sylmar Street in Fresno. After moving to their new home, Elmass and Art discovered how much they liked to play bingo with their friends. There was a weekly game held on Tuesday nights, and their family could always expect a call at 8 p.m. when it was over so they could share how well the couple did. “My father arrived early to hand pick the bingo cards and his system sure did work. Our parents won at least a game and sometimes more games almost every week they played,” remembers Arnell.

Elmass and Art were married for 61 years when Art’s health failed, and he passed away in 2011. Elmass continued to reside at the couple’s home in the Woods Mobile Park until 2014. At that time, she moved to the Fresno Guest Home where she lived until passing peacefully on the morning of November 29, 2019, two days after celebrating her 91st birthday.

Throughout her life, Elmass was a loving, dedicated, and devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother who is deeply missed by her family. She was a gifted home chef who never tired of entertaining and making the many recipes and dishes her family loved the most. She leaves a remarkable family legacy of five children, two daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law, nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews and dear friends in the Fresno area.

For over 70 years, Elmass and her beloved mother Araxie baked these choreg/walnuts rolls for their family and friends. This treasured recipe is sure to please many more families into the future.

Elmass Edith Aloojian

Elmass Avedisian’s Choreg/Walnut Roll

Ingredients:

5 pounds all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon salt, to taste

3 packages yeast

3 cups butter and 1 cup Crisco

1 can evaporated milk

6 large eggs, beaten

Sesame seeds, optional

Walnut mixture:

Ingredients:

4 cups chopped walnuts

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preparation:

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; follow directions on package. (It should tell you to add the sugar.)

Melt the butter and Crisco together in a medium pan, and stir in the evaporated milk. The temperature should be warm, not hot.

In a separate bowl, measure and mix all dry ingredients together. Make a small indent in flour mixture and pour in the butter and Crisco; add eggs and yeast at that time. Mix together. Add about 1/2 cup water to make the dough very soft.

Knead the dough until smooth. Cover with wax paper and let dough rise until double in size; this might take a few hours or overnight. If you prefer to leave the dough overnight, you can heat the oven at its lowest temperature, then turn off the heat and place the covered dough in the oven.

When dough is ready, weigh out 10 oz. balls and set aside. Roll out each ball to 8”x 16” sheet. Cover dough with walnut mixture. Roll up dough sheet and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.

Cut roll diagonally. Bake at 375°F for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.

Elmass Avedisian’s Streusel Cake

Elmass Avedisian’s Family Streusel Cake

Ingredients:

Mix together in large bowl:

1 package yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines)

1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

4 large eggs

1/2 cup oil

Beat the above ingredients for 10 minutes, this is very important. Mix the following ingredients together in separate bowl:

3/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” x 13” cake pan with cooking spray. Pour half the batter into a tube pan, then add half the nut mixture on top of batter. Then repeat.

Add remaining cake batter and nut mixture. Take a butter knife and make a swirl in and around the pan.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Store cake at room temperature for up to 3 days or  store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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