For an Assyrian there is one food that is more prized than any other: chada (Kah-duh). Chada is an Assyrian pastry that is vaguely similar to baklava. It is layer upon layer of butter and flour wrapped in butter and flour; almost like an ethnic croissant. It’s one of the most delicious pastries you’ll ever taste and yet so simple in its makeup. The reason it’s considered gold is because it takes hours and hours to make. You have to roll the dough, let it rise, push it down, roll it again, let it rise, push it down…you get the idea. My mother always invites her cousin over for a 2-day baking marathon, at the end of which they FedEx chada to all the relatives and freeze the rest of it for Christmas.
There are countless chada stories, all of which involve someone in the family acting like a fool in order to get one extra piece. My favorite is when my mother’s cousin came to our house while we weren’t home, tricked the cleaning lady, and stole chada straight out of the fridge. Our poor cleaning lady – she wasn’t sure if we had told the cousin to come or if we were being robbed!
Despite the huge commitment, I decided to make the sweet version by myself (the sweet version has raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon in the filling as opposed to just straight up butter and flour. It also takes much less time because you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise.). I hope you all enjoy this – just remember to be patient with yourself. It will take one or two times to get the hang of it! Take notes! Ask questions! And most importantly, enjoy =)
-8 cups of flour
-6 sticks of butter cut into small pieces at room temperature
-2 packages of dry yeast
– 1 tsp salt
-16oz sour cream
-1 tsp vanilla
1. Mix yeast and sour cream in a large bowl.
2. Add vanilla, salt, and butter. Then add clour and work with hands until fully incorporated.
3. Divide the dough into 9 balls, wrap each in wax paper and refrigerate 90 minutes (or overnight if that’s easier for your schedule).
-2 5/8 cups sugar
-3 sticks of butter cut into small pieces at room temperature
-3.25 cups raisins
-3.25 cups walnuts
-4.5 tsps cinnamon
-1.5 tsp vanilla
-3 cups flour
-3 tbls yogurt
1. Work butter into flour and mix well.
2. Add vanilla and sugar. Then add raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon. Mix well.
3. Divide into 9 portions (about 1.25 cups for each portion).
If the dough has been in the fridge for 90 minutes, let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. If it’s been in overnight it will need 2-3 hours. It’s easiest to make the filling while you’re waiting for the dough to come to temperature.
Roll each ball into a rectangle as thinly as possible without breaking it (it will be approximately 18×8-inches). Tricks of the trade: Use flour on the rolling surface, pin, and ball to keep it from sticking. Once the dough has become slightly translucent, stop rolling it and work other parts that are still opaque. You also have to find that magic temperature where the dough is cold enough not stick to everything and yet warm enough to roll.
Once you have the rectangle, spread the filling evenly to about 1″ from the sides. Turn over the left and right edges so the filling won’t fall out and roll it up like a wrap. Flatten out to about ½-inch thick with your hand. Whisk eggs and yogurt together and brush the top of the roll with the mixture. Use a pizza cutter to diagonally cut about 12 pieces from the roll. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 20-25 minutes in a 350-degree oven until nicely browned on top. As you let them cool, keep them covered with a dish towel so they don’t dry out.
Repeat 8 more times. (ugh). You can half the recipe easily too if you want. They will keep for a few weeks in the fridge and they also freeze well!