Armenians in Lebanon and around the world celebrate today the holiday of St. Sarkis, one of the most beloved saints among the Armenian nation. According to traditions, the night before St. Sarkis Day, “teenagers will go to church, firmly keeping an “Aghi plit” (salty cookie) in their pockets, which must be eaten before going to sleep. The salty cookie will make them thirsty and in their dreams whoever offers them a drink of water, will be their future husband or wife” [Source]. Added to that, there’s a special cake prepared on St. Sarkis holiday, known as the Musa Daghian “kumba”, which is a kind of “Darehats”. A coin (“michink”) is hidden inside the cake and whoever gets it will be the luckiest of the year, and will be the supporter of his/her family. [Read More]
I honestly had no idea about this feast or those food traditions up until I read a post about the Saint Sarkis cake on TasteOfBeirut. As it appears, this cake is a specialty of the Armenian community in the town of Anjar, a town located in the Bekaa valley in Lebanon.
The cake looks delicious and is easy to prepare (For those who cook). I have no idea if it is sold anywhere in Lebanon though. Here’s the required list of ingredients and method as taken from TasteOfBeirut’s post.
INGREDIENTS: 12 servings
3 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of boiling water (I added another 1/4 cup)(enough water for the dough to be moist but thick and firm)
1/3 cup of honey
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of dried apricots, diced (I used candied orange rind also)
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds
1/4 cup of pine nuts or other nuts, plus extra to garnish the top
1/2 cup of sesame seeds
Spices: 3/4 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of cardamom, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of mahlab
2 tsp of baking powder
1 coin, wrapped in foil
1- Place the flour in a large skillet over medium-low heat and stir gently until the flour turns a light tan color. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the sugar, spices and baking powder. Add the olive oil then the boiling water and mix until a thick dough is formed similar to a cookie dough; add the honey, nuts, raisins, apricots and mix to combine.
2- Spread the dough in a greased and floured round pan (9 to 12″ in diameter), inserting the foil-wrapped coin. Cut a piece of plastic wrap and place it over the dough and with your fingers pat the dough to smooth it out. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the surface and garnish with almonds or walnuts or other nuts. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes until the surface is dry and golden brown. Cool and serve.