For the last few years, I have asked my BFF, Noël, to teach me how to make choreg. Until this year, she has always forgotten to tell me when she will be making it, since it’s usually right before a holiday when things are busy. Last week, though, I got a text from her inviting me over for choreg-making. YES. Finally! Noël had repeatedly told me it was “so easy” to make choreg, which I didn’t really believe–she is definitely a great baker, and I am definitely not. I hate measuring ingredients, kneading dough, and washing a million dishes, so I basically never bake. However, I really like choreg, and the homemade kind is always better than store bought. I accepted her invitation, packed my kiddo in the car at 7:30 AM, and drove up to her house to learn. Now, here I am, blogging about it while waiting for my second batch of dough to proof. Why my second batch? Because we finished the three dozen choregs from the first batch, and I need to make more. Yeah. It’s that good.
It occurred to me a few minutes ago that many (most?) of you have never had choreg. You may have some idea of what it is because of the picture at the top of the post, but that’s it. Well, friends, you’re in for a real treat. Choreg is an Armenian sweet bread topped with sesame seeds that we eat for breakfast, dessert, or as a snack. It tastes great with a piece of feta or Syrian cheese, or even with some jam. Each person’s choreg tastes a little different (i.e. some is better than others), but it’s pretty much always delicious. This recipe makes a more traditional choreg that is a little sweet, moist, and is easily one of the best I have ever had, which is why I’m sharing the recipe. As a disclaimer to the Armenians/other choreg connoisseurs, this recipe does not use mahleb (ground dried cherry seeds). I would not be opposed to adding it, but it’s not in here.
Initially, I didn’t realize choreg-making was a two-day process. On day one, you make the dough. It rises overnight so it can be shaped and baked on day two. I missed day one at Noël‘s house, which turned out not to be such a big deal because the recipe for the dough is very self-explanatory. I rolled in for day two expecting some hard labor. In fact, it was so easy and quick with two of us shaping the dough, that I was barely able to get this picture of us in action!
- 2 packets dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 cups salted butter
- 3 cups milk I used whole
- 5 lb bag King Arthur Flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 8 extra large eggs
For the tops:
- 1-2 eggs for egg wash
- about 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
In a small bowl, combine yeast and water and reserve. The yeast should start to bubble up. If it doesn't bubble, the yeast isn't good, and should be discarded.
In a saucepan on the stove, melt butter.
Once butter is melted, turn off heat and add milk to the melted butter, and set aside.
While butter is melting, in another very large bowl (I used a big lobster pot) combine flour and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk sugar and eggs together, and set aside.
Add the butter/milk mixture, egg/sugar mixture, and yeast/water mixture with the flour in the very large bowl.
Knead ingredients until completely combined, about 5-10 minutes. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap (wrap should completely touch your dough to prevent a skin from forming as it rises). Set aside in a warm place for 4 hours to overnight (I recommend overnight). The dough should double in size.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down once and let it sit covered in a warm spot for an additional 30 minutes.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.
Take a small handful of dough, and roll it out into a log about 1/2 inch thick. You can flour the surface or your hands to help if dough is sticky.
Tie the dough into a knot, and place it on a cookie sheet. Repeat with all the dough; depending on how big your choregs are, you will need to do this in batches, and need 5-6 cookie sheets. Leave at least 1-2 inches between choregs. Let choreg sit on cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
Beat 1-2 eggs with a splash of water or milk for the egg wash. Brush tops and sides of choreg with egg wash, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating once, or until tops just turn brown.
Remove pan from oven. Carefully slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet, and cool choregs on parchment.
Once completely cooled, store in airtight storage bags or containers. They should keep for about 1 week at room temperature, or can be frozen for 3-4 months.