Week 2: Biscuits!

Whoops….skipped a week making Flemish clothes for a medieval 12th Night event.  And now….back to the baking!

Savory biscuits top the challenges for week 2.  36 consistent biscuits.  Contestants used things like sunflower seeds; sourdough chili cheese; rye and fennel; za’atar and fig; pumpkin and sunflower; shortbread parmesan and apple; rosemary, paprika and olive; caramelized onion and goat’s cheese; fenugreek and carom; parmesan and chive pastry triangles.  I considered following Norman’s lead with his flour, butter and lard biscuits….but without the lard (even though he got the Hollywood Handshake for it!)  Or maybe Richard’s rosemary seeded crackers–I have fresh rosemary in the back yard, and I could sprinkle a little parm on them for a cheesy element.  But then thought I should try to find a recipe that works and build off of that.

So, Googling around, I saw that Martha Stewart has a recipe for 20 rosemary and parmesan crackers on this site.  I would have to double the recipe to get at least 36.  The Food Network has a parmesan and thyme one on here that also looks good.  And King Arthur Flour’s site has lots of great recipes, including this parmesan cracker recipe.

I decided to start with the Food Network’s recipe since it seemed the simplest and I had all the ingredients on hand.  I went into the back yard and snipped a bit of thyme off and softened a stick of butter in the microwave (pro tip:  refrigerated butter can be softened by putting in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds at 10% power).  I followed the instructions and mixed up the ingredients, scraped them onto the floured surface, but it was too dry.  It said “roll into a 13″ long log.”  No matter how I pressed it together, when I rolled it, it crumbled apart.

I looked to the other two recipes–one called for one egg white, the other called for milk, along with a similar list of ingredients.  I went with the milk, dribbling in enough to make the dry mix stick together.  It was maybe 1/8 to 1/4 cup.  I didn’t measure.  Sorry. Just add a little splash at a time until you get a dough that’s easy enough to work.  In my case, it all stuck to the mixer paddle after adding a few spoonfuls.

But the addition of the milk did the trick!  It suddenly started looking like a dough!  Woooo!  I dropped it onto a lightly floured surface and rolled out a big ol’ log.  I wrapped it in plastic wrap and laid it in the freezer….now we wait….30 minutes.  I guess chilling it just makes the dough easier to cut through to make little rounds.  I saw one of the contestants in one of the shows use dental floss to slice through pastry so it wouldn’t deform the breads she was making (presumably she didn’t use mint-flavored floss).  Little trick of the trade, I guess.  But with chilled dough, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.  I used a steak knife and it worked just fine.

So anyway, I pulled it out of the freezer and sliced it into 1/4″ thick pieces, as the recipe suggests…actually they say between 1/4″ and 1/2″.  Let me tell ya, 1/2″ would be WAAAAY too thick.  These things don’t flatten out in the oven like cookies do, so when they come out, they’re still 1/4″ thick, which is a little too beefy to be called a cracker…it’s more like a biscuit (and I mean an American “biscuit” not a British cookie/biscuit…and I think what we call a biscuit, they call a muffin.  I don’t know what they call things that we call “muffins”, although they have Yorkshire pudding, which is a sort of fried roll that they make in a muffin tin…even though a pudding is a sort of dessert…but I digress).

So on the next pan of crackers, I decided to try to make them thinner and crisper. I pulled out the rolling tool and squashed them a little.  They’re all asymmetrical and “unique”, but they came out a bit more like a cracker than like a fluffy biscuit.  Personally, I like the thinner, crispy ones, but the middle kid prefers the thicker cut.  I guess you could experiment with it and decide how you like it best.

And the taste?  YUMMO!  The thicker ones are a little moist in the middle, as you might imagine, but the thinner ones are a little bit like Cheez-Its, but without the inexplicable nuclear-orange color.  Note the yellow flecks of parmesan cheesiness and bits of fresh thyme baked into this cracker-biscuit.  Cris-kit?  I don’t know.  It’s good.

Step count today is surprisingly low…4900.  Maybe because I set the phone down while I was cooking.  I guess I’ll keep walking.

Also made another chocolate roulade for the boy…bribery to get him to finish his Citizenship in the Nation badge.  The news is boring, I know…hopefully he learned something.

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