Since our daughter Mandy and son-in-law Ron live in upstate NY, Doug and I are always thrilled whenever they visit us in South Carolina. The most recent visit was a bit different – Mandy came here, but Ron – and Doug – were in Indiana spending time with Ron’s family.
Prior to her arrival, Mandy announced that she was following a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free?? How was I supposed to bake her favorites – choreg, lahmajoun, chocolate chip cookies? It’s a good thing she gave me advanced warning! The cookies were easy to convert, and there’s a simple solution for the lahmajoun by using gluten-free tortillas as the base – I know, it’s just not the same, BUT transforming the choreg was going to be a totally different story! It took some time, but I put together a gluten-free choreg recipe and prayed it would not disappoint. The following is a version of my traditional choreg(chorag) recipe, using gluten-free flour. I’m happy to report the recipe was Mandy-approved!
A savory Armenian bread or roll – minus the gluten!
Course Breakfast, Snack
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 17minutes
Rising time 3hours
Total Time 3hours37minutes
5-5½cupsgluten-free all-purpose flour sifted (such as Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose flour)
2tsp.gluten-free baking powder (such as Rumford)
2Tbsp.granulated sugar Use more, if you prefer a sweeter choreg
2tsp.freshly ground mahlab Sold in Middle Eastern stores
2tsp.freshly ground fennel seed, optional
2tsp.freshly ground anise seed, optional
1 (1¼oz.)packetgranular active dry yeast or measure 2-1/4 tsp. dry yeast
2largeeggs, at room temperature, beaten
½cupunsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled1/2 cup butter = 1 stick or 8 Tbsp.
¾cupwarm milk (110° – 115° F) Note: 2% milk or whole milk may be used
1largeegg plus 1 tsp. water or milkbeaten
Toasted sesame seeds or/and Nigella seeds (sold in most Middle Easternstores), optional
Sift, then measure the flour. Place 3 cups of the sifted flour in a large bowl and place the rest of sifted flour into a smaller, separate bowl. Set the smaller bowl of flour aside for now.
To the large bowl with 3 cups of sifted flour add the salt, 2 tsp. baking powder, sugar, mahlab, and ground spices, if using. Blend well.
Stir-in the dry granular yeast into the flour-spice mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients – warm milk, melted-cooled butter and beaten eggs. Slowly combine the wet mixture into the large bowl with the flour-spice mixture. At this point the dough will be sticky.
Start adding enough of the remaining sifted flour to make a workable dough.
Lightly sprinkle extra gluten-free flour onto a clean work surface. Knead dough gently and shape into a large ball.
Lightly oil a clean, large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Lightly oil the top the of dough ball.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size – about 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, punch down dough and divide it into quarters.
Working with one section at a time, break off pieces of dough about the size of walnuts or golf balls and roll into ball shapes. To make coil-shaped choreg, roll each ball into a rope, about 8“- 10" long and then wrap the rope into a coil shape – or – shape dough into braids, twists, or “S’ shapes.
Place shaped dough on parchment-lined baking pan(s) leaving some space in between to allow for spreading during baking.
Cover tray with more plastic wrap and a clean towel and let rise again – about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Brush choreg tops with egg wash and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/ or nigella seeds, if desired.
Preheat oven 350°F – 375°F. (Remember, oven temperatures can vary.)
Bake one tray at a time on the center rack for about 15 – 17 minutes or until tops and bottoms begin to turn golden brown.
Allow choregs to rest on baking pans for a few minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.
Once completely cooled, choregs can be stored in a tightly covered container. These choregs freeze well when placed in a single layer in freezer bags.
Serve warm or at room temperature with Armenian string cheese – or – your favorite cheese, olives, fruit – and definitely Armenian coffee!