Bagahj

Barbara Hovsepian’s Baghaj

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Baghaj, Bagharj, Pagharch, Nazook, Katah: are they different or one in the same?

This recipe is reprinted with permission from Robyn Kalajian at her essential Armenian food blog, https://thearmeniankitchen.com/. Robyn is a retired culinary teacher whose passion for cooking and knowledge of Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine has earned her an international following as the creator and chief cook at the site.

According to Irina Petrosian, author of Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction and Folklore, baghaj/bagharj is defined as an “unleavened flatbread made without salt.”

“As much as the recipe’s spelling varies, so do the recipes themselves. Some recipes refer to this as baghaj, others call it pagharch, yet there are those who say it is nazook or even katah (gata). It’s enough to make one’s head spin,” says Robyn. “So far, we’ve posted a recipe for nazook, katah (gata) and another for pagharch at our site, but here is a wonderful recipe for baghaj from my dear friend, Barbara Hovsepian. This is a flaky, sweet pastry that pairs well with Armenian coffee or tea. The nice thing about this recipe is that it can easily be made using a food processor.”

Equipment: food processor

Dough Ingredients:

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3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon – scant salt
1 egg
1 package dry yeast (proof in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar)
4 cups flour (plus extra flour, if needed)
1/2 cup sugar

Filling Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)

Topping Ingredients:
1 egg (beaten for egg wash)
Nigella seeds or sesame seeds (to use as garnish)

Preparation:

To Prepare Dough:

Put 2 cups flour in the food processor fitted with a steel mixing (knife)
blade.

Melt butter in a pot. Remove from heat and add milk. Pour into food
processor. Add salt and pulse a bit.

Add 1 egg and proofed yeast. Process for a second to mix.

Add remaining 2 cups of flour and process to mix well. If mixture is not
balling up and is straining processor, add more flour a heaping tablespoon
at a time until it balls up and doesn’t stick to sides.

Put dough in large pot. Cover and let rise until double in bulk at least 2
hours.

To Prepare Filling:

Melt butter in frying pan. Add flour and blend with back of wooden spoon.
Remove from heat.

Add sugar and mix well. This should produce a fine crumbly mixture. Add
chopped walnuts.

Assembly:

Turn out dough onto a floured work surface and separate into two parts.
Roll one part into a large rectangle. Spread half of the filling almost to
the edge of the dough. Roll from one long side to the other, creating a
log-shape, and ending with the edge underneath. Do the same with the
remaining filling and dough.

Brush surface of the logs with egg wash and sprinkle surface with Nigella
seeds or sesame seeds. Let sit and rise for about 30 minutes.

Cut logs into 1-inch to 2-inch diagonal slices to achieve diamond shape
portions.

Baking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line ungreased baking sheets with parchment paper. Place individual baghaj
slices about half an inch apart and bake until golden brown, about 30-40
minutes. (See in Barbara’s Notes below information for baking time.)
Rotating trays from one rack to
another about halfway through baking helps to prevent bottoms from burning
and allows tops to brown evenly.

Barbara’s Notes:

“If you prefer a more abundant filling, the amounts can be doubled. Baking
time depends on the size of the pieces. It takes about half an hour in the
convection oven to make the small ones, longer for the bigger ones. It
takes
longer to bake in a conventional oven. I give an estimate of time and tell
people when it smells great and looks golden, it’s done. Some people prefer
it well done and almost brown while others like it pale. My sister puts
cinnamon in the filling. My mother didn’t use it but an aunt sometimes did.
So cinnamon is an option. Also, my baghaj comes out firm while my sister’s
recipe comes out soft as she uses butter and Crisco in the dough.”

If any culinary experts can clarify the baghaj, bagharj, pagharch, nazook,  <http://thearmeniankitchen.com/2010/05/bread-from-past.html>
katah (gata) confusion, please contact: robyn@thearmeniankitchen.com.

We aim to capture and preserve the recipes that our Armenian grandmothers never had time to write down.

For this recipe, go to:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/baghaj-bagharj-pagharch-nazook-katah-are-they-different-or-one-in-the-same/

For nazook, see:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/my-uncle-rafael-movie-nazook-dessert/

For gata pastry, see:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/chef-nathan-kibarians-gata-pastry-recipe/

For Takouhi (Queenie) Tashjian’s Pagharch, see:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/pagharch-bagharj-baghaj-nazook-katah/

See:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/confused-about-pagharch-baghaj-gata-and/

For gluten-free choreg, see:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/savory-gluten-free-choreg/

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For Armenian food videos and more, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/c/dkalajianTAK/videos

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