Armenian Gata

Armenian Gata
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One of  the  perks  of  living  in  California is   that one  gets  to  experience  different  cultures and cuisines.  Sometime back  I found  these   wonderful sweetbreads   called  Gata  in a  middle  eastern bakery .   A  bit  of  research  led  to  Armenian  Gata .  It is a  sweet  bread ,  almost  like a  pastry .  There are  many regional  variations  of  this bread  One  popular  version is   a  bread filled   an almost  custard  like  filling of   butter  , sugar and  flour .    This is the  one   we have  here.


Armenian Gata

An internet  search  will  bring  up many version of  gata  recipe – many tied  to  family histories  and  traditions.   All the   recipes  agree on  one  thing  that there is  bread/pastry  and  the  filling .   Some  are  richer  than others  and  some  downright  decadent.   The  one  that   became a  hit  with us   is  a  lightly sweetened   bread   with the  walnut  filling .  I like  the  filling  to be a thin layer, but  feel free  to   double  the   filling  if   you like.   The  standard  filling  , koritz, is  a  simple  mix of  butter , flour   and  sugar . This  unassuming  filling  gives  the  most  delectable  taste and texture .

The   recipe  starts  as  a  standard    sweet  dough  recipe.  You start  by  activating  the  yeast . Warm 1/4 C  milk  to 110°F or  just  warm to   touch .  Mix one tbsp  honey  with the   milk  and  sprinkle  the  yeast on top .   Let it   sit  aside  for 5  to  10  minutes    for  the  yeast  to become  bubbly .  Here  is  the  thing  though, this is a pastry  so  none  of that  skimmed  stuff.

Armenian Gata Dough

Now  to make the   dough.  This is  going  to  get a  little  sticky. Take  the  flour in a  large  mixing  bowl . Add  salt  and  sugar  and   stir  to  mix  evenly .  Make a  well  in the  center of   flour mix and  pour  the  activated  yeast   followed  by half  the   remaining  milk  and   the  egg .   Knead  gently for a  minute  till  the   liquid    is  absorbed  by the  flour .  Add the  melted  butter    and  enough  of  the  remaining  milk  to   make  slightly  sticky dough . Cover  and  set  aside  for  10  minutes.  During   the  10 minutes of  resting, the  flour  absorbs  a  lot  more  moisture  and  it  gets  easier  to  knead. I would  recommend  it ,  even if you were  using  a stand  mixer  to  knead.

Knead  the   dough    for  10 to  15  minutes   until it  becomes  soft  and  very  pliable.  If  needed  add  a  few  more  drops  of milk or  a few  tablespoons of flour.   As  always  a  little  wet   dough is  preferable  to  a   dry one.  Form  the  dough into a ball .  Oil  the  bottom  of  a  bowl  and  place   the  dough ball  in it .  Turn  the   dough to coat  all sides   with oil  . Cover  the  bowl  (kitchen  towel, plastic  wrap,  any  airtight lid ) .  Set aside  in a  warm  place  for  it  to   double –  about   1  hr.

While  the   dough is  proofing prepare  the  filling .  In a  bowl    mix  the   sugar  and  flour  with a  pinch of  salt .  I usually add finely chopped  walnuts  as  well.    Mix  well .  Melt  the   butter  for  filling  and  add  it  slowly to the  dry ingredients along  with  vanilla  essence  and  mix  well .  If  you  take  the  filling  in the  palm of  your  hands  and  press  it close    it  should  just  come  together .  Do not  add  water.  If  necessary  add a  bit  more   melted  butter .  Set  aside .

 

Once  the  dough has  doubled  in  volume , punch it  down   and  invert  into a  well  floured  kneading  surface .  At  this  point  you   can  choose  to make a  large  single gata or   mini   gatas .   Here I  have  made 3  medium  sized  ones .

Divide  the   dough into  4    pieces  .   Take  one  piece  and  flatten into    about  6″  disc .  Place a third of  the  prepared   filling  at the   center of  the  disc .  bring  up the  sides  of  the   dough   around  the   filling and  pinch it  close .     Using a  rolling  pin    gently roll it  back into  a  disc  about  7 to 8 inch  in diameter .  Transfer to a   baking  sheet .  Repeat    with   2  more  pieces .

Take  the  4th piece  of   dough  and  roll it  out  to a  fairly thin   disc  – 12  to 14  inches in  diameter .   Cut  into thin  strips   and  place  over    the  gata   discs in  a  decorative  pattern.  This is  an optional  step, kind of a  baker’s  secret.  All that  decoration on top  helps  to hide  tide any imperfections. When  breads  were  made in the communal ovens, these  decorative  touches were the  mark of  the  owner.

Trim  and   tuck in the   ends of  the  dough  strips   under the  discs .  The  handle of a  dinner spoon / fork   comes  handy  here.  In  another  bowl   whisk an egg   with 1  tsp of  milk  and  set   aside  for  egg wash .  Brush the  tops    with  egg wash   and  use  a  fork  to  poke  holes  on the  top  of  the   breads  as  well .  This is  an important  step as  otherwise  the  filling  might  break  the  top and ooze out .Transfer to  the  oven  pre heated to 375 °F  and  bake  for   around  30  minutes,  until the  tops  are  dark  golden.  When  done  the   the  internal  temperature  should  read  200°F.

Cool , Slice , Serve 🙂

Armenian Gata

 

Armenian Gata

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Armenian Gata

Ingredients

Milk - 220 gm (1 C)
Honey - 80 gms (4 Tbsp)
Egg - 1
Yeast - 7 gms (2Tsp)
Salt - 10gm (1Tsp)
Vanilla - 1Tsp
Flour - 500gm (4 C)
Butter - 2Tbsp
Filling
Butter - 4Tbsp
Sugar - 1/2 C
Flour - 1/2 C (60 gm)
Walnut - 1/3 C
Salt - a pinch
Eggwash
Egg - 1
Milk - 1Tsp

Instructions

Warm 1/4 C milk to 110°F or just warm to touch . Mix one Tbsp honey with the milk and sprinkle the yeast on top . Let it sit aside for 5 to 10 minutes for the yeast to become bubbly .

Take salt, flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix evenly . Make a well in the center and pour the activated yeast followed the egg and half of the remaining milk. Knead gently for a minute till the liquid is absorbed by the flour. Add the melted butter and enough of the remaining milk to make slightly sticky dough . Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes till it becomes soft and very pliable . Add few more drops of milk or a few tablespoons of flour if needed. Form the dough into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat all sides with oil . Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm place for it to double - about 1 hr.

In a bowl mix the sugar and flour with a pinch of salt .Melt the butter for filling and add it slowly to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla extract. Mix well till everything comes together. Set aside .

Punch down the dough that has doubled and and invert into a well floured kneading surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces . Take one piece and flatten into about 6" disc . Place a third of the prepared filling at the center of the disc . Bring up the sides of the dough around the filling and pinch it close . Using a rolling pin gently roll it back into a disc about 7 to 8 inch in diameter . Transfer to a baking sheet . Repeat with 2 more pieces.

Take the 4th piece of dough and roll it out to a fairly thin disc - 12 to 14 inches in diameter . Cut into thin strips and place over the gata discs in a decorative pattern. Trim and tuck in the ends of the dough strips under the discs . Cover and set aside to double in size , about 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).Whisk an egg with 1 tsp of milk in a bowl for egg wash .

Brush the tops with egg wash poke holes all over the tops with a fork. When the oven is ready transfer to it and bake for around 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown .

Notes

For a sweeter / richer version double the filling without walnuts. Volume measurements are approximations.

https://oventales.com/armenian-gata/

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10 thoughts on “Armenian Gata

  1. This looks amazing! I love pastries and cakes that are tasty but not sickly-sweet. Your first paragraph made me laugh though, as in the UK a sweetbread is also a word for a type of offal, an animal’s pancreas.

    1. 🙂 this reminds me of a discussion we had in one of the English classes – there are sweet breads and then there is sweetbread 🙂

  2. I love Armenian food but have never heard of this before! I really love the decoration that you did on top, next time I visit an Armenian restaurant I will ask about this.

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