Monday, October 29, 2007

coffee break — time for a snack

churik (choreg)

these mildly sweet little buns are brioche-like but with a different taste than the commonly known french type — it is one of the eastern mediterranean, namely turkey, armenia and greece. flavoured with mahlep, the ground kernals of a particular (wild) cherry tree, these breads are served with strong coffee and enjoyed with preserves and sometimes kaymak which is a very thick cream, something like that of english devon cream. the mahlep cannot be replaced and there is no substitute for it. do seek it out and give it a try. we also add orange flower water to these and sometimes a bit of cinnamon mixed with allspice but only in a very small amount.

makes 7 buns (recipe can be doubled)


1 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp water

4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted (or oil)
4 tbsp milk or soymilk
1 large egg
3 tbsp sugar
2 capfuls orange flower water (opt)

1 1/2 c ap flour
1 tsp mahlep
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg yolk + 2 tsp milk or water
sesame seeds (and/or nigella seeds)


place yeast and water in a small bowl and let sit 10 minutes.

in the meantime, melt the butter in the microwave or on stovetop (only just to melt — don't make it scorching hot). add the milk and sugar only and mix well. once the mixture is only warm, add the eggs and orange flower water, if using, and mix well again.

add the yeast mixture and stir again. set aside.

in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, mahlep*, baking powder and salt. mix well with a whisk.

*make sure to pulverize the mahlep completely or pass it through a fine sieve as it tends to clump. this is very imporant.

add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix well.

add the rest of the flour mixture and knead for about 2 or 3 minutes. it should be a soft dough and feel a bit greasy but not sticky. as you knead more, it will become less sticky (it may be initially when you start kneading it).

place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. cover the tea towel with a plastic bag and let everything rise for about 1 1/2 hours. it needs to double. i usually place it above a smaller bowl filled 1/3 of the way with boiling water to keep the dough warm as it proves.

once doubled, take the dough out of the bowl and deflate it slightly.

cut 7 equal pieces of dough and roll them into balls. make sure they are nice and round. if you have handled the dough a lot before cutting, it is harder to make nice cohesive balls of dough. it can still be done however.

cover them and let them sit for 10 minutes.

take one of the balls and flatten it into a disc shape.

with your thumb, press a small hole into the center of the dough and almost all the way through.

place the disc on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet and press again into the disc to make the hole open up all the way through.

continue with the rest of the dough, leaving space in between.

cover the baking sheet with a tea towel and let it rise for another hour. tedious yes, but necessary or they won't puff up properly. i've made these countless times and they are always smaller if i don't prove them fully.

after 30 minutes of proving, heat the oven to 350 F.

before placing the churik in the oven, make your eggwash and coat them fully. sprinkle sesame seeds and/or nigella seeds all over.

bake them for 20 to 22 minutes until they are just golden brown.

let them cool on a rack.

serve with turkish coffee and jams or preserves. store them in a plastic ziploc type bag and they will stay fresh for about 2 to 3 days. you can reheat them slightly in the microwave, if you like them warm.



Nafeesah said...

Yummy! I love Bread-y stuff like this! it's a pity I dont have a good hand at it though :(. What would be your advice for bread things like cinnamon rolls? I mean how do you make SURE that they're absolutely done? because even after I follow all the instructions they always stay a bit doughy in the middle and it makes me awfully sad....used to make me furious in the beginning but now I just get sad :p

Oh yea, and doesn't heating up in the microwave make this beautiful churik turn chewy? I seem to have that experience alot :(

Also I dont think I've come across a recipe which uses yeast and b.p. together, very interesting! it gives it a prettier rise or something?

Also what is mahlep and why is it so important for these buns?

And lastly!! I'm leaving for Malaysia this friday!!!!! (dont you wish you were me :p LOL )

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

You always manage to come up with the neatest things! These really do look like fun.

burekaboy — said...

hey nafeesah :) - wow, you must be sooooo EXCITED for the HUGE move!

i'm going to post something over the next few weeks about cinnamon rolls actually. you're probably under-cooking them which is why they're doughy in the centers. you'll try what i post and get back to me. it's foolproof and so amazingly good, you'll have to hide them! LOL.

the baking powder for the churik gives them a little more rise and softness. it does make a difference, i find. you can get away with not adding it but i don't suggest it.

mahlep is a powder with a distinctive taste. can't describe it, except to say it's a nutty flavour. it's used often in mediterranean and certain mid eastern baked goods. check the link for more info about it and look at my post for roskas (in sidebar).

i wrap the buns in paper towel and microwave them only for about 15 to 20 seconds. they come out perfectly fine. if you reheat too long, they get weird. less is more, as they say.

have a safe trip/move back 'home' :) i'm sure it'll take you a little while to re establish yourself there. check ur email later on ;) bon voyage!

hi emily - thanks :)

try them, one of these days. they are very fast 'n easy to make, and fun, too ;) make sure to add the mahlep though! i'm sure you can find it there. if not, i'll mail you some.

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

I should be able to find that at my good Persian grocery store... does it have any other names?

Would hate to get you arrested for international mahlep dealing! ;-)

burekaboy — said...

hi em - lol, i was thinking the same thing, sending powdered substances through the mail!

don't think it's used in persian cooking but i'm sure you can get it there. just ask for mahalep, tell them it's used for baking.

Arabic Bites said...

Very nice, and well documented too.


burekaboy — said...

zainab - ahalan ;) thank you for the nice compliment, as always.

Magpie Ima said...

I finally made these today and they were really lovely. I found I needed more flour than you called for and I committed what is no doubt heresy--I used my bread machine for mixing and rising! But they were absolutely delightful--tender, light, and faintly exotic. Thanks for the recipe!

burekaboy — said...

hi magpie ima - thanks for the feedback on the churik; glad to hear you liked them and that they came out well.

i never really trust what recipes say in terms of flour. it's hard to gauge how much you'll need as it all depends on people's measuring of other ingredients (liquids mostly) and the weather.

LOL about the breadmaker. i used to think it was the ultimate cheater's device! the older i get, the smarter i think those with a breadmaker are! as long as it works, use it.... did you add the mahlep, btw?

Magpie Ima said...

I did use the mahlep and loved the nutty, mysterious flavor it added.

As for the bread machine...what can I say? It seemed like a luxury when I got it but it became more of a necessity as my kids can hoover down a freshly baked loaf of organic, whole grain bread *every day*. And I love that I can throw in my challah ingredients on Friday morning, go about my business, and come home to find dough ready to shape.

burekaboy — said...

magpie ima - you can also use the mahlep in the roskitas recipe (aka israeli salty "cookies") i posted (see sidebar) if that interests you, or check online for greek or turkish or armenian bread recipes.

i have friends who swear by their breadmakers. anything to make your life easier :)) i guess those kind of things are only a waste of money when they sit in the cupboard and get used once a year.

wholegrain breads, huh? wow, you've got them 'trained' well!!