Zatiki Chorek Photos courtesy: https://www.osharak.com/chorek-armenian-easter-bread/

Recipe Corner: Zatiki Chorek – Armenian Easter Bread

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This traditional Armenian chorek is rich and scrumptious. Its sweet, enticing aroma lingers in the kitchen for days. It’s truly heavenly.

This chorek recipe is featured at Cafe Osharak by Noune, a talented and creative Armenian food blogger. “In my blog, you will find globally-inspired dishes, with an emphasis on Armenian and Italian cuisine. ‘Osharak’ is an Armenian word that means ‘the nectar of the fruit,’ typically known as a drink which is refreshing, satisfying, energizing and colorful. I am an Armenian native, living in Colorado, married to an Italian from New York. Most of my recipes are heirlooms of both our families that became staples and true favorites.

“Cafe Osharak is where I can be harmonious with myself, where I can write what I am passionate about, and what excites and completes me.”

“The food I make and write about is created with love, it’s made from scratch with fresh, wholesome ingredients, and seasoned with an array of herbs and spices. Even though I don’t follow any particular diet path, I am inclined towards Mediterranean food choices, where vegetarian dishes are paired with whole grains and legumes, and occasionally with some fish and meat on the side. Whether it’s a weeknight meal or a special occasion, I like to serve and style with visual appeal. I am a baker and love to express my passion through celebratory cakes, breads and fine pastries, too. Follow me on my journey,” she adds.

Zatiki Chorek Photos courtesy: https://www.osharak.com/chorek-armenian-easter-bread/

“Today I am baking chorek, traditional Armenian Easter Bread. My aunt Victoria, who we call Viki, always makes chorek and gives it away as gifts at Easter. This recipe was passed down to me, and I am pleased to share it with my readers. As a young girl I made this recipe with my mother. She would give us a piece of dough and we would shape them into flowers, letters, birds, or most of the time, some abstract figures. My mother would make braids and roulades filled with walnuts or apricot preserves, sprinkled with poppy or sesame seeds,” she says.

“The aroma of the baked chorek is sweet and enticing, and it lingers in the kitchen for days. It penetrated into all the nooks and crannies of my senses and became engraved in my memory. Recently, I came across an article which had an excerpt from an autobiographical book, entitled, My Grandmother: An Armenian-Turkish Memoir by Fethiye Cetin and translated by Maureen Freely. The book is about her grandmother, one of the many Armenian women who were forced to become Muslims to survive and escape the death march  during the horrendous events of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1922.”

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“This small passage tells a story of chorek and how it was a secret message between the Islamized women who had the same fate. Women who tried to hide their identities from their children and grandchildren but hold on to a sense of their roots by sharing their customs with one another.”

“Do you know that when I was a child, my grandmother and I came to your house? My grandmother baked chorek all day. After sitting for a while, after tasting my grandmother’s chorek, we also visited Shasho Ibrahim’s wife, Aunt Seher, and Aunt Tatuml. It caught my attention that day that all the people we went to see served chorek. The choreks we tasted in other houses were like the ones we made in your house. When I was expecting a different kind of hospitality, I was always disappointed to see the same pastry. My grandmother ate and drank tea in the homes of all the people we visited. It was only years later that my attention was drawn to the hospitality of that day and the community of homes we visited. ‘Shasho Ibrahim’s wife, Aunt Seher, was Armenian, and Aunt Tatiml later converted to Islam, like my  grandmother.’“

Zatiki Chorek Photos courtesy: https://www.osharak.com/chorek-armenian-easter-bread/

What’s Special About Zatiki Chorek: Armenian Easter Bread?

“Easter heralds the end of Lent and celebration of new beginning, awakening and rebirth. The enriched bread chorek is loaded with eggs and butter, milk and sugar, similar to brioche, challah, pana pasquale. What makes chorek so different and memorable is the unique spice called mahleb. It gives chorek its distinctive taste and enchanting aroma. Mahleb is the wild cherry stone kernels that is not as bitter as ordinary cherries, but has a very delicate and exquisite flavor. Known for its medicinal properties, mahleb was used since ancient times, and eventually made its way into the kitchen as one of the spices prevalent in countries around the Mediterranean.”

Shaping Ideas and Options

Braids: I typically make the braids with 500-600 grams of dough. I use three strips. There are more elaborate braids, but I am sticking to the traditional one. I divide the dough into three equal parts, knead each piece, and give each an initial sausage shape.

Roulades: To make a roulade with the walnuts or jam, I portion 400 grams of dough. No initial shaping is required; I simply knead and ball the dough and set it aside covered.

Chevron: For small chevron shaped rolls, I portion 70-100 grams of dough, knead them into the little balls and set them aside covered.

Here are Noune’s specific ingredients and directions:

300 grams butter (1 1/3 cups), melted

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar + 1 tablespoon for starter

1 1/2 cups milk + 1/4 cup milk for starter

900 grams flour (about 7 1/4 cups)

1 teaspoon yeast (not instant/rapid rise)

1 teaspoon mahleb

1 large egg for egg wash

Sesame, poppy or nigella seeds, if desired

Preparation:

Starter:

Mix 1 teaspoon of yeast with 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and flour to make a creamy consistency. Cover and let rise for 15-30 minutes.

Dough:

Start mixing the melted butter with 1 cup of flour in a standing mixer with paddle attachment. Then add the eggs and sugar and beat well.

Add the milk followed by the starter. Sprinkle with the ground mahleb.

Replace the mixer with the dough hook. Gradually add the flour. After adding the flour, scrape the mixing bowl from the bottom and continue kneading (8-10 minutes).

The dough should feel smooth and elastic but not sticky. If it feels sticky, add more flour until it no longer sticks.

Once the dough is kneaded and glossy, place it in a bowl where it has room to rise; cover and place in a warm place.

Let it rise for 2 hours. It should double in volume. The ideal temperature is 75°F (24°C).

Punch the dough down and make a couple of folds by bringing the dough from the bottom across diagonally over. Repeat for all sides. Cover and let it rise a second time.

Once the dough rises the second time, divide it into portions.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, while you shape and make the breads. Make the braids, rolls, any shapes you want.

Beat the egg with a little bit of water and brush it on the ready breads. Let them rise again for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with seeds and bake for 20-40 minutes.

The smaller breads will bake quicker. The thicker braids will require about 40 minutes.

Armenian blogger Noune at Cafe Osharak

For this recipe, go to: https://www.osharak.com/chorek-armenian-easter-bread/

Also see:  https://www.osharak.com/about/

For Armenian Tolma, Vegetables Stuffed with Meat, Rice and Herbs, see: https://www.osharak.com/armenian-tolma-vegetables-stuffed-with-meat-rice-and-herbs/

For more Armenian recipes, see:

https://www.osharak.com/category/armenian_food/

Welcome to Osharak cafe where you can find globally-inspired dishes, with an emphasis on Armenian and Italian cuisine.

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My Grandmother: An Armenian-Turkish Memoir Paperback – July 4, 2012 by  Fethiye Cetin (Author), Maureen Freely (Translator)

Fethiye Cetin is a Turkish human-rights lawyer who has represented, among others, Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist assassinated in Istanbul in January 2007. This is her first book. Growing up in the small town of Maden in Turkey, Fethiye Cetin knew her grandmother as a happy and respected Muslim housewife called Seher. Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmother’s name was not Seher but Heranus. She was born a Christian Armenian. Most of the men in her village had been slaughtered in 1915. A Turkish gendarme had stolen her from her mother and adopted her. Cetin’s family history tied her directly to the terrible origins of modern Turkey and the organized denial of its Ottoman past as the shared home of many faiths and ways of life. A deeply affecting memoir, My Grandmother is also a step towards another kind of Turkey, one that is finally at peace with its past.

“My Grandmother … refuses to be sidetracked by the issues it raises: it is a tribute to the woman, an expression of shared pain, and a plea for reconciliation. That it was a bestseller in Turkey should tell you something.”-Guardian

Order at: https://www.amazon.com/My-Grandmother-Armenian-Turkish-Fethiye-Cetin/dp/1844678679/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1678390397&sr=1-1

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