The best part about a fairy-tale is typically the happy-ending. I remember asking so many questions about the prince and his stallion. Where did he sleep when he wasn’t near a castle? What did he eat? Where did the witch buy her supplies? Did she make them from scratch? What do you cook for gnomes? Where do Fairy Godmothers buy glass slippers? When a story mentions red lips, does that mean she wore lipstick? Do the stepsisters grow out of being ugly like the Ugly duckling? What was inside Little Red Riding Hood’s basket? And so on and so on....
I probably drove my parents bonkers with tons of inquisitive questions but they had to enjoy the fact that they could hold my attention for a short amount of time. Sadly, they couldn’t always answer all my inquiries so I ran to the library to read as much as I could about Dorothy and her friends from Oz, by Frank L. Baum. Inhaling books by E.B. White, Antoine de Saint Exupery or books by Jules Verne and any imaginative author who mingled reality and fantasy. I also often wondered whether Huck Finn really existed and if he did--how he managed to walk barefoot all summer?
But this post is about my mother’s butter biscuits. In Hungarian folklore, there’s usually a boy like Huck Finn or a girl, going on an adventure with their knapsack. It’s the magical way our parents pulled our imaginations into the story, ala The Princess Bride. Parents know that you can't go on a quest without tasty snacks. Most likely, he/she is running away to see the world and that’s where the story begins, because inside of the knapsack are the butter biscuits, which might best be described as a form of hard tack or scones, depending on the talent of the grandmother who made them. These are not soft biscuits, but crumbly ones that can survive a journey. In some tales, they have a coating of protective ash due to the old-fashioned method of dropping dough directly into the fire.
My mother’s tiny tea biscuits are etched into my fading memories and I couldn’t replicate them if I tried. The following recipe is a satisfactory but easy version, nowhere near perfection. Mom used yeast and sour cream, creating a light, airy dough that once baked, melted upon contact with your tongue. Truly, her Pogacsas were--in my mind anyway--legendary. Of course, Red Riding Hood’s basket contained this type of mouthwatering biscuit, because after all, a buttery, biscuit has to be memorable for it to be in a fairy tale.
Hungarian Biscuits or Pogacsa
11 ounces of Ricotta Cheese-(the small tub is usually 15oz at the store.)
2-1/2 cups flour (plus a bit more for the cutting board)
A small pinch of salt
1-1/4 cup of softened, unsalted butter
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
(Coarse salt or caraway seeds if desired.)
Mix the flour and the baking powder
Knead in the butter, salt and the cheese until you have smooth dough.
Cover it and put it into the fridge for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Repeat the above step of rolling and folding five or six times.
Using a small one-inch cutter, cut each biscuit and score with a fork.
Brush each one with the egg yolk and place onto a pan sprayed with Pam spray or lined with parchment.
Bake 30 minutes and place each warm biscuit onto a tray filled with either salt, caraway seeds or both.
Now put on a pot of tea and tell a story! Enjoy.
Did you like fairy tales too? Do you think you'll ever make these biscuits?