Choregs are probably my favorite breakfast food of all time. They’re braided. They’re easy to eat on the go. They’re not obscenely sweet. They’re amazing with cheese. My grandma used to send freezer bags of these home with us, just so I could snack on them more than once or twice a year. Have I mentioned that my Gma is awesome?
This is her choreg recipe. It’s quite similar to Virginia Madoian’s recipe from The Art Of Armenian Cooking, although Gma goes a little bit heavier on the anise. Some Armenian women really like to make choreg in bulk, though, so I’ve halved her recipe. I lovelovelove choreg, but I cannot fathom why I would need a batch large enough to require five pounds of flour and ten eggs. This recipe makes more than enough dough…I needed two large bowls to let it rise. Incidentally, all of the choregs were gone in less than 4 days. Maybe I oughta make the bigger recipe next time?
8 1/2 cups flour
1 pint milk
1/2 lb shortening
1 stick butter
5 eggs, beaten
1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp mahleb
at least 1 tsp crushed anise seed
at least 1 tsp crushed fennel
1 egg for brushing on top
1 tsp liquid anise
Preheat the oven to 375 just before baking.
Dissolve the packet of yeast in lukewarm water.
Melt the shortening and butter together. You can do this on the stove or in the microwave.
Heat the milk to lukewarm temperature.
Place the flour in a very large bowl, and use your fingers or a spoon to create a well in the middle. Fill this well with eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder, mahleb, anise, fennel, milk, shortening, and yeast. Did I mention that you need a very large bowl for this?
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it stops sticking to your hands. I promise that it will stop sticking to your hands at some point.
Cover the bowl with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 3 hours.
Punch the dough down, and divide it into 6 equally-sized balls. Cover again, and let rest for half an hour.
Roll each ball into a log, and cut into 6 pieces.
Shape into braids (I can draw a diagram if someone wants that — just leave a comment!) and place on a baking sheet. Let these sit for an hour.
Using a pastry brush (or your fingers), paint the tops of the choregs with egg, and sprinkle with seeds.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Remove the choregs from the baking sheets, let cool for a few minutes. Serve warm with Armenian string cheese.
Braiding the dough can be a little bit annoying, but if it gets sticky and unwieldy, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes. I promise that it’s totally worth it to make the braids. When the choregs are baked and you can pull off neat little bite-sized pieces, you’ll be happy that you bothered to braid them.
Special note for Chicagoans: I picked up the mahlab and sesame seeds (and some other cool things) at Middle East Bakery & Grocery. It’s an amazing little store right near the corner of Foster & Clark, and I am totally in love with it. Go. Now.