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Chorek: The Armenian Brioche

The texture, flavor and experience of choreg is a cross between brioche, Easter bread and challah.  It’s great as is with a cup of your favorite java/tea or you can add layers of flavors by incorporating some dried fruits like currants, raisins, figs, oranges, cranberries or chocolate chips.  The recipe may seem laborious, but I assure you that the results are well worth it.

Sponge

2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

¼ cup warm milk

¼ cup unbleached a/p flour

Dough

About ¼ cup milk

2-1/2 cups unbleached a/p flour

1-1/2 tsp mahleb* pulverized

2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp

1 egg yolk

½ cup caster sugar Plus 1-1/2 tbsp

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Glaze

1 egg yolk

½ tbsp cream or milk

Topping

Sesame seeds, almond slivers or chopped hazelnuts

Sponge

  1. Dissolve the yeast with the warmed milk (plus 2 tbsp worth lukewarm water) and let it stand until it becomes frothy, about 10 minutes (I skipped adding the sugar here)
  2. Then, add in the ¼ cup flour, stir to mix, cover with cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes until bubbles form all over

Dough

  1. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the sponge, milk, flour, pulverized mahleb, 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, sugar and melted butter
  2. Mix the ingredients together with fingers until the dough comes together.  Transfer to work surface and knead for about 15-20 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and springy.  Place it in greased bowl cover loosely with cloth and allow to double in volume for 3 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough, shape into a log.  Divide log into 20 small, palm size pieces and roll each piece into a tight ball.  Cover with cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes
  4. Roll each ball into ropes, cover with cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes
  5. Shape each rope into wheels, cover with cloth and allow to rest for 1-1/2-2 hours or until wheels have doubled in bulk
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Make glaze (yolk + cream/milk).  Brush each wheels with glaze twice, resting a few minutes in between.  After the second glaze, sprinkle each wheel liberally with sesame seeds and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake on middle rack for 15-20 minutes or until top of choregs turn golden in colour.

Yields 20 palm size choreks

Mahlab can be found at Middle Eastern specialty food stores.