Hello everyone!! It’s been SO LONG since I posted last!! I have been the queen of procrastinating, its been MONTHS since I have posted!! Aaahhh! But we’re FINALLY back to finish off this European baking tour with the last few stops on this trip!
We’re hitting up Azerbaijan this week! A country I knew basically nothing about, and I feel like many Americans are in the same boat. Pretty sure most of us probably couldn’t point to it on a map. If you are also one of those people, here’s a map of the general region!
Like many countries in this part of the world, Azerbaijan seems to showcase a juxtaposition of old history, and modern advances. Azerbaijani culture looks to have a fascinating mix of European and Asian influences. All in all, beautiful country, deep history, rich culture. Here are three pictures I picked out from my searches, two of Baku, the capital city, and one of some young ladies dressed for the spring holiday of Novruz, which coincidentally is the holiday these badambura pastries are typically made for!
Novruz is a celebration of the New Year, as well as the coming of spring. Preparations start about four weeks prior to the actual festival, where cleaning is done, food is cooked, seeds are planted….. and when it comes time for the festival-holiday part, it spans over a few days and can include dances, old customs such as children jumping over candles or a small bonfire, visiting graves of relatives, and eating lots of foods, including badambura. One of the traditional decorations used in Novruz is a clump of wheat grass shoots, bunched together and tied with a ribbon, which you can see the young ladies in the picture are holding.
So these delightful pastries are made of a layered dough, and filled with an almond and sugar mixture. They’re wrapped up and pinched together, kinda like a dumping. But the identifying characteristic of these pastries, is the many layers of dough that you can see on the top, spiraling outward. They are nicely sweet and cardamom-y, and in general, very pleasant.
They’re made from a yeast dough, and you roll it into a bunch of very thin layers, and stack them up. Roll it up into a log, and then slice it. Then you take each slice, and flatten it out like a pancake, and use it like a dumpling wrapper. A spoonful of the filling goes in the center, and you then try to pinch the edges together in a pretty way (which I kinda failed at), and bake ’em! You could use pre-ground almonds, or grind them yourself, or you could be like me and take the extra step to blanch your whole almonds, peel them, let them dry, and THEN grind them. I’m extra.
Aside from not doing a fantastic job of rolling and pinching my edges consistently, the other semi-issue I had with this recipe, is that it seemed to make WAAYYYY more filling than I needed. Like at least double what I needed. You could probably cut the filling amounts in half and be fine. But otherwise, I think they turned out pretty well! They tasted nice, and that’s the most important thing, right!??!
Here’s some pictures of my process!
And instead of doing current events like I have been, I’m going to do fun facts again. Partly because everything in the news is sad right now, and partly cuz I want to learn more about this country that I know little about! So here we go! (facts source)
-In Azerbaijan, they often drink tea with jam. Not sugar, jam. Apparently when you are served tea (in this case, typically black tea), you are also served a bowl of thick fruit jam, like preserves. You take a small bite of the jam, and then drink the tea through the jam in your mouth. This sounds like fascinating way to sweeten tea, and you get some fruit out of it too! I would love to try this!
-The national animal of Azerbaijan is a karabakh horse. Its a breed of horses, specific to the region called Karabakh, they are good racing and riding horses apparently. They are one of the oldest breeds in the world, and are an endangered species, with less than a thousand left.
-It has a city built on the Caspian Sea. Yes, on it. Its called Neft Daşları, and the entire city is built on stilts above the water. It started in 1949 as an oil rig and a few elevated walk ways, but has expanded into an actual small city on the water. It has a population of about 2,000 people, and is still very much an industrial area. Look it up! Its fascinating!
-The capital city, Baku, is home to the Armwrestling Federation, which has a pro-league of arm wrestlers.
-It’s national sport is one you’ve probably never heard of. Its called Chovkan, and is like polo in that players are on horses, and hit a ball around with wooden sticks. But they also have a very specific traditional uniform that includes hats, embroidered tunics, pantaloons, and music is played during the game.
Recipe time! Recipe found HERE. As usual, check out the original source too! It provides better pictures of the pinching process, if you’re confused about that part!
-1 tsp dry
-1 Tbsp granulated sugar
-1 Tbsp flour
-1/3 c warm water
Ingredients for dough
-1 egg (room temperature)
-pinch of salt
-1 Tbsp vanilla sugar (I just used sugar, and a little vanilla extract)
-1 cup unsalted butter, meltedd
-1 cup warm milk
-5 cups AP flour
Ingredients for filling (I’m going to half the amounts for you, and if you come up short, you can blame me) 😉
-1/2 lb peeled almonds
-1/2 lb granulated sugar
-1 tsp cardamom
-1 Tbsp vanilla sugar (I believe I actually used some coconut sugar instead..for kicks?)
1 cup melted clarified butter, for brushing between layers of dough
powdered sugar for dusting
-Start with the yeast mixture. Mix the dry ingredients together, and add 1/3 cup of warm water. Mix together until smooth, and leave to rise in a warm place.
-While the yeast mixture is rising, melt the butter, and warm the milk.
-For the dough, in a large bowl, mix the egg, egg yolk, salt, vanilla sugar and yeast mixture. Add the warm milk and melted butter, and mix it all together.
-Begin kneading the dough while slowly adding flour. Save some flour for dusting the layers.
-Continue kneading the dough until its smooth, soft, and does not stick to your hands.
-Put dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place.
-While dough is rising, prepare the filling. Blend the skinned almonds until it resembles coarse salt. Mix the blended almonds with the sugar, cardamom, and vanilla sugar. Set aside.
-Once the dough is risen, divide it into six equal balls. Cover them to prevent them from drying out. Roll out the first ball into a very thin layer (until its see-through). Try to keep it square or rectangle shaped. Gently brush with warm, melted clarified butter. Roll out the second ball of dough, place it on top of the first layer, and brush with the butter again. Repeat until all the layers are used.
-Preheat Oven to 350 F/180 C.
-Once all layers are stacked, roll all the layers into a tight roll, as you would a roulade. Slice the dough into equal pieces, approx. 1/2 inch/1.5 cm thick. Gently flatten out each slice, making a small bowl shape in the palm of your hand. Put one full tablespoon of filling inside, and bring the edges together to close it. Pinch the edges tightly, and twist them along the seam to keep it closed.
-Place the Badambura on a baking sheet, seam down, so they are sitting on the seam.
-Bake for about 20 minutes, until bottom is slightly golden brown. Top should still be light.
-Right before serving, dust with powdered sugar.