Taste the World - Azerbaijan - Shekerbura (Sweet Nut Pies)

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*Official name: Republic of Azerbaijan *Motto: 'Country of the Fires' *Capital: Baku *Official Languages: Azerbaijani *Government: Unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic  *Area: 33,436 sq mi  *Population: (2015 estimate) 9,624,900 *Currency: Manat (AZN) *Time Zone: AZT *Drives on the: right *International code: AZ (data from Wikipedia)

For Azerbaijan, I've made the traditional pastry, shekerbura. Shekerbura (şәkәrbura) are a popular Azerbaijani sweet pastry, filled with ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. Shekerbura are eaten in Baku at the Novruz spring holiday. According to one tradition, the slightly crescent shaped shekerbura represent the moon. The process of making shekerbura is time consuming and, traditionally, the women of the family get together before Novruz to make shekerbura. Although shekerbura are traditionally a delicacy for holidays and special occasions, nowadays they are enjoyed all year round as well. 

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 Sweet nut pies recipe (Shekerbura)

 Ingredients

FOR THE PASTRY:

  • 4 cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup cold water

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1/2 lb almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts (a combination of nuts can be used, but walnuts on their own will be slightly bitter)
  • 1/2 lb granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) powdered cardamom (to taste)

METHOD:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, put the diced butter, flour, lightly beaten egg and water. Knead until forming a smooth ball of dough.

2. On the work surface, shape the dough to form a long cylinder. (You may need to add more flour to form smooth, workable dough). Divide it into 12 equal pieces (about 1-2 oz per piece). Form balls, flatten slightly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for one to two hours.

3. Grind the nuts in a nut or coffee grinder. Mix the ground nuts with the sugar. Add the powdered cardamom.

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4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out each disk of dough into a 4-inch circle (not too thin). Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold the circle in two. Pinch the edges to close. Then pinch stronger on the edges and fold inward slightly. Continue all along the edge. Using small flat nose pliers, draw geometric patterns on top. The pattern is an essential part of this recipe. I watched this youtube video to see just how to do it: 

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5. Bake for 25 minutes in an oven. Cool completely before serving. 

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