Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Armenian Croissant: Ashma, Katah
To refresh your memories... a few weeks ago I posted a recipe search item. Leon was looking for a gata (katah) recipe that his grandmother used to make.
"(The katah) were golden brown and crispy on the outside, and flaky like a croissant on the inside--though comparing them to a croissant would be an insult, because these were above and beyond any croissant you can find today."
Cookbook author Dorothy Arakelian (seen above), thinks she might have the recipe Leon is looking for.
Her recipe for Ashma (Katah) comes directly from her cookbook, "Come Into My Kitchen", (with her permission, of course!).
Leon, we’d love to hear your verdict.
ASHMA (pronounced ush mah)
Also referred to as KATAH
This bread is the ultimate of all Armenian breads. Light, spongy, multi-thin layers of buttery dough with a flaky crust - this is to the Armenians what the Croissant is to the French.
1 lb. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup Crisco, melted
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Crisco, melted, lukewarm
2 tablespoons salt
Gold Medal all-purpose flour, about 3-4 pounds
(add enough flour to make a soft, smooth dough)
Egg wash (2 eggs, well beaten)
Melt together the pound of unsalted butter and 1/4 cup of Crisco and set aside to use for brushing the sheets of dough. Dissolve yeast in very warm water with 1/4 teaspoon sugar, set aside to proof.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the milk, water, shortening and salt. Gradually add the flour and mix well with a large spoon. Mix in the dissolved yeast. Feed enough flour to the liquid mixture until it begins to pull together, adding just enough flour to make the dough smooth and pliable. Proceed to knead the dough with your fists, using a small amount of oil on your hands, only if the dough is sticking. Divide dough into six balls; cover and set in a draft-free area for 15 to 20 minutes.
Sprinkle flour lightly on work area. Using a regular rolling pin, roll the first ball of dough into an 8” circle. Using a long dowel, roll the dough out to a 24” circle (or as far as you can go). This dough stretches, so use the back of your hands to gently stretch it to the max; your ultimate goal is to stretch the dough to a 36” round.
Brush the entire surface of the dough with melted butter. Fold each side of the circle over to meet in the center, without overlapping. Continue buttering, one side of the dough, and folding it over until you obtain about an 8” wide strip; butter the length of the strip and fold loosely into an 8” square. Put the square aside and cover with plastic wrap; repeat these steps with the rest of the dough.
Taking the first square, gently fold and smooth back the four corners and shape it into a round; using the rolling pin lightly roll and shape the dough to form an 8”x1/2” round disk. Repeat this process with all the squares.
Place circles on an ungreased baking sheet without touching, in a draft– free area to rise, about 3 to 4 hours or as long as it takes to double in size.
Preheat oven to 375°. When loaves are ready to bake, brush tops with the 2 beaten eggs (egg wash) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until light golden in color.
To serve: Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. (To serve warm, wrap in aluminum foil and place in a 375° oven for about 10–12 minutes.) Yield: 6 loaves
Note: Another popular variation for shaping this dough: Roll the dough to a 36” sheet, and brush with the butter. Gently roll the dough, jellyroll style, into a rope, and coil the rope into a round pinwheel, pinching the ends under; set aside to rise, covered. Using a light touch, with the rolling pin, gently roll each pinwheel and enlarge; set aside to rise, about 2 hours, and bake as above. This is a more uniform loaf, very attractive, however, since it is coiled, it will not rise as high as the former shape. This popular appetizer freezes very nicely for many months.
*Seeds can be purchased at Middle Eastern Specialty stores.