Today I will be sharing my personal experience with attempting to bake an Azerbaijani pastry for the very first time, alone, and away from home. Although I was initially hesitant and, to be quite honest, insecure, about sharing my attempt, in the end I figured that I should be honest with my baking adventures and instead share some lessons I learned when making it on my own 🙂
This pastry is called shekerbura (or şekerbura) and is particularly famous during an Azerbaijani spring holiday called Novruz. In general, it is definitely my favorite national pastry, as I bring it back with me to university every time I go back home to visit my family. In fact, a lot of my non-Azerbaijani friends also greatly like it. Hence, I figured it would be a great baking challenge to make something I love, something that reminds me of home.
I acquired the recipe from Feride Buyuran’s blog, so you can check her very descriptive post for a step-by-step picture guide and original recipe. In my case, I decided to halve the measurements, so as to yield less, as her recipe makes 36 – but, let me tell you, I was so wrong! Even with decreased measurements, I ended up with over 30!
These are the measurements I used:
- 500 gr. flour
- 200 gr. butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 125 gr. sour cream
- 65 ml. milk
- 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 350 gr. skinned, ground hazelnuts (you may use almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts)
- 350 gr. sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom (for information about this spice, check here)
Now, normally the pastry is unique because of the design, which is made with special tweezers called maggash. In general, shekerbura look like dumplings, almost like a half moon, with a braid on the edge. Seeing how I do not have maggash and have amateur skills, I could not make a design nor braid the edges, so mine were very simple. Luckily for me, I will be going to Azerbaijan for a short while soon, so my aunt and mom promised to teach me how to braid the edges 😀
Seeing how the original post is very descriptive in itself, I shall leave you to read it for more information and/or watch my quick video of the process.
However, before concluding this post, I want to share some lessons I learned through my experience and mistakes.
- Expect to spend a few hours on the whole process, from start to finish. It only takes about 20 minutes for a batch to bake (at 175 degrees Celsius), but you will have to set the dough aside for 30 minutes, for example.
- Do not make my silly mistake and measure the nuts before grinding them…. I had 400 gr. of skinned hazelnuts and I grounded them all, so I had way too much filling left over. (I know, what was I thinking?! I think I was just too excited to bake, haha)
- The cardamom should also be grounded – I bought the seeds, so I had to peel them and then grind them. Luckily, I had my sister help me with this process. Therefore, if you can, simply buy ground cardamom, not the seeds. (I could not find ground cardamom nearby, which is why I had to settle for expensive seeds :D)
- I recommend cutting out circles with a glass/mug after rolling out the balls – I found this a much more precise method, making the shekerbura look much more nicer when omitting the braided edges and design.
- Make sure to pinch the edges very well – the edges can open up while baking, like it happened to some of mine.
- Be careful with the amount of flour you add – I added the flour all in one go, so my dough came out a little dry and crumbly, which made it slightly harder to roll out. It also affected the taste, since the filling was delicious, but the pastry wasn’t as soft as it should be. But hey, I’m still learning! 🙂
This was my final result, but on my third try (I baked 2 days in a row). Hope you enjoyed this extensive post, nush olsun!
Until next time,