The Perfect Persian Koloocheh – Made by a Perfectly Gracious Lady!
The Perfect Persian Koloocheh – A Guest post by Maria Dernikos
Koloocheh is a Persian treat baked and eaten at celebrations. These beautiful round golden discs are fashioned with a decoration of indented circles pressed into the dough. Baked with yeast, milk, butter, yogurt and eggs it has a rich dough but inside lies a rich seam of walnuts mixed with sugar and cinnamon. As they bake in the oven the whole kitchen is immersed in a cloud of cinnamon perfume. As they cook the smell creates a real feel good factor and a sense of something promising.
Until recently I had never heard of Koloocheh nor ever tasted them. The Fig and Quince kitchen asked if I would like to write something. I know that Azita and her family are preparing for the Persian New Year and I wanted to bring something that would honour that occasion. As I like to bake I thought the natural thing would be to produce a sweet of some sort and there starts my journey of learning about Persian food. One of the things I have learnt is that recipes are handed down and that a Koloocheh recipe alters depending on where you live in Iran. Scattering poppy seeds on the top being one example of this.
This recipe is not one that has been handed down, it is an amalgamation of all those recipes, which I hope will give everyone a piece of the Koloocheh they know and love. So forgive me if it is not exactly as you know it. On the poppy seed issue I have scattered a few on some of them!
I have made the Koloocheh in both a gas oven and an electric fan oven and there is no difference to how they cook.
As this is a dough recipe containing yeast, the amount of water/milk might need to be altered slightly. A tighter dough produces a firmer Koloocheh whilst adding a little more liquid will give the Koloocheh a consistency more like that of a brioche.
- 250 gms Strong white flour
- 250 gms Self raising flour
- 55 ml milk
- 55 ml natural yogurt
- 85 gms butter melted
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 egg yolk for decoration
- 70 gms caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 7 gms dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 50 ml warm water
- 25 gms Walnuts chopped fine
- 25 gms Icing sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Gas Mark 6/200C
- Start with making the walnut filling. In a food processor chop the nuts. Add to this the icing sugar and cinnamon and mix well. This will be used as the filling.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt. If salt comes into direct contact with the yeast it will kill it off.
- In a small bowl dissolve the teaspoon or pinch of sugar into the warm water and sprinkle the dried yeast over the top. The sugar is there to help wake the yeast up. Cover with cling film and leave for ten minutes. The yeast will start to create small bubbles which will then create a foam top.
- In another bowl add the melted butter, milk, yogurt and sugar and stir, lastly, adding in the 2 beaten eggs. Make sure that the butter is not too hot when you add the eggs. Once the yeast has foamed add this as well and stir.
- Make a well in the flour and add all the wet ingredients. Slowly stir bringing the flour in little by little until it is all encompassed. At this point I use a mixer with a dough hook and knead for about 6 minutes. The dough needs to be silky and elastic.
- Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with a teacloth or some clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm place. This should take about 1-2 hours. Don’t worry that it hasn’t risen as quickly as you would like. The slower it rises the better the flavour.
- When the dough has risen to double in size, remove it from the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it again for a few minutes. At this point turn the oven on.
- Taking a small tangerine size piece of dough lightly roll it in your hands to form a ball and then with a rolling pin flatten it. Hold the dough in one hand and with the other, spoon a heaped teaspoon of the walnut mixture into the centre, bring the sides up and pinch them together, you will find the dough is quite elastic and will bond very easily. Turn upside down with the join underneath and roll again into a largish disc.
- In Iran a large brass stamp is used but as I have no chance of getting my hands on one of these I had to improvise by using two icing nozzles. One of the secrets I learnt is to press down quite hard otherwise the impressions you make will bake themselves out as the dough rises.
- Place onto a baking sheet and repeat until the dough is all used up. There should be around 11-12 Koloochehs but you might find you have made fewer. It doesn’t really matter.
- Taking the egg yolk beat it a little and use it to brush the Koloocheh making sure to cover the edges. One yolk will just cover 12 Koloochehs so don’t go mad with the first few. You can always go back and re-brush them.
- Place in the top half of the oven and leave for 15-20mins. At around the 12 minute mark, I have opened the oven a fraction to check that they are cooking evenly, if not turn them around. They are ready when they have a beautiful golden brown colour. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool to handling temperature and then eat.
Note: In my research I have also read that a dish of water can be put in the bottom of the oven to create a crisper crust. I have not done this as I like the way they are.
As with all homemade breads that do not contain preservatives these do not last long. After 48 hours they begin to go stale. Once cool place into an airtight container. I have made several batches of these and could not eat all of them straight away but found sliced in half they made the most wonderful toast.
Eat it. Enjoy it. And as they say in Greece: καλή όρεξη – Kali orexi!
To give you guys an insight into the meticulous pains Maria took in creating this recipe I have to include an excerpt from one of our correspondences:
“I like to repeat my recipes until I think I have covered everything. I have been cooking for decades and in the past nothing would make me crosser than a bad recipe or something left out. Little did I know how difficult it is to write them! There is not an English recipe for Koloocheh with yeast. There is a version but only with baking powder as the rising agent. The Iraqis have something similar but not quite. I have researched and researched and translated! “