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Friday Foodie: Armenian Brioche filled with Dates, Walnuts, Honey and Spices

 

Armenian Brioche is a new bread for me. I’ve been making bread for many years and started out the old fashioned way, but when bread machines came along, I quickly adapted. Making this bread took a bit longer, no doubt, than one I might make in my machine, but was so worth the time and effort.

While looking at spices on the Penzeys website, I took a look at their specialty spices and saw, Mahlab. Curious, I did a web search and found out about this spice and recipes that use it. The Perfect Pantry had an Armenian Brioche recipe which I changed up a bit and became the recipe I am sharing with you today. (The Perfect Pantry had also adapted it from another source, however, the only change I saw was a division of ingredients to make a smaller amount.)

Because Mahlab should be ground fresh, I used my molcajete. I actually bought this specifically for the task, but have always wanted one, so great excuse, eh? I also ground my cloves for the filling. Next, I’ll be making guacamole in it!

Because I could not get a super fine grind, I then sifted it through this mesh strainer. This is a great tool for sifting, by the way.

This is my two flours, barley and bread flour, along with the yeast at the top and the mahlab at the bottom. I love barley flour for it’s fine texture and smoothness in breads and cakes. A great way to add a whole grain to a bread, cake or pancakes.

After beating the eggs and sugar with the butter, and adding the flour and milk/water mixture, I switched to my dough hook to finish kneading this into a smooth ball.

Before the first rising.

After the bread had been through it’s two risings, I formed the dough into 20 balls and while they rested for 30 minutes, I made the filling. I chopped the dates and walnuts. That’s my Pampered Chef chopper in the background. Works wonders on nuts.

I used a regular teaspoon to scoop up the filling for each roll.

This is one of the balls with the filling.

On the left is the pinching up process and the right all pinched together. I then rolled the dough back into a smooth ball.

The egg wash.

I used this tea strainer to sprinkle the poppy seeds onto each roll. The tea strainer works for other spices as well.

Beautiful! I think I over cooked them just a bit. Go for golden, but go short rather than long!

Here’s the recipe. Click on the title for a printable or downloadable copy. I hope you will enjoy as much as my family and I did!

Peace and joy!

Friday Foodie: Armenian Brioche filled with Dates, Walnuts, Honey and Spices
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Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Armenian Brioche stuffed with Dates, Walnuts, Honey and spices While looking at the Penzey spice website, I noticed a section of specialty spices and perused the list. I ran across Mahlab, a spice totally unfamiliar to me. I was intrigued with it’s origins , Turkey and Iran, and that essentially it comes from the pits of a sour cherry. I did a search for recipes using this “spice” and found this Armenian Brioche, traditionally served at Easter. This is the recipe I adapted from The Perfect Pantry.
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 2 cups barley flour + extra as needed
  • 1 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbs. finely ground Mahlab (grind just before using)
  • 2 ½ tsps bread machine yeast (or one package of yeast)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ Tbs coconut oil
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ cup warm water, (I use hot from the tap since adding straight to the flour and yeast mix)
  • ⅓ c warm milk
  • Filling:
  • 10 ounces, pitted and freshly chopped dates (I used Medjool)
  • ½ c chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 2 Tbs honey
Instructions
  1. For Filling: Mix first four ingredients together. Use your finger tips to mix the spices and walnuts with the dates to help separate clumps of dates. Mix in the honey and set aside until ready to fill bread. After filling, if there is any left, eat directly from the bowl. (I had about a heaping spoon full left and it was delicious!)
  2. For dough: Combine flours mahlab, salt and yeast, set aside.
  3. Turn oven to 100 degrees (or lowest setting). When it reaches temperature, turn off oven.
  4. In heavy duty mixer, cream butter, oil and sugar together. Add eggs and beat until combined and creamy.
  5. Combine milk and water together. Alternating between flour mixture and milk/water mixture, starting with flour, add to the creamed ingredients and continue mixing. When dough becomes too thick for the standard beater, replace with dough hook. Add additional flour (I alternated between barley and bread flour) one tablespoon at a time until dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Oil a large bowl, but not metal, and place dough in bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in warm oven. If oven feels hot, prop door open until just warm. The idea is to give the dough a warm place to rise, out of drafts, until double in size, about 2 hours.
  7. Punch down. Fold together, smooth into a ball and allow to rise again for about 1 ½ hours, until double in size. Punch down again and allow to rest for 15 mins. Divide dough in half. Divide each half again and then make five balls from each quarter. Allow the balls of dough to rest , covered, for 30 mins.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flatten each ball into a round, using a dining table spoon, scoop a spoonful into the center. Pinch dough closed around filling and reshape into a ball. Fill balls, one at a time, then place, two inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with an egg wash, made from one egg yoke and one tsp of water. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
  9. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy hot from the oven or may be reheated the next day for serving. Freeze any leftovers (which there will be none, but just incase) for up to a month.