You guys have to see this! Long story short, it was time for another of the necessary culls at my parents’s house last fall, targeting the kitchen and pantry this time. Chipped mugs, gift-pack whiskey glasses, you know, the stuff that keeps culminating over the years.
And so, I see my mom putting this in the toss section:
This memento cannot go was my reaction. Never been big on baking, you take it then, she shrugged. So here we are, an iconic article and me in my kitchen: I give you the glorious Universal Dough Press biscuit maker!
Produced in the ’80s by the booming centrally planned socialist command industry of Czechoslovakia, no less! This is serious retro alert for me, regardless of the fact that my Birth Certificate was issued with the red star still in it.
Hell-bent on using the device ever since I took it in, biscuits were on the proverbial chopping block. And then February, well, being February with gloomy, rainy, dull end-of-winter days finally made me go for it.
So next, a review of a kitchen gadget showcasing that Eastern Bloc zeitgeist nostalgia, plus a yummy Scandinavian-inspired recipe (for maximum geopolitical contrast, if you know what I mean).
Because who doesn’t love Danish butter cookies? I know I do, but I find shaping Vaniljekranse the traditional way with a piping bag quite the workout. Will it be easier with my newly acquired biscuit maker? We’re about to see!
First, I made a batch of the simple dough (keep reading for the recipe). So far so good. It was time to assemble the dough press. Good thing I haven’t turned the oven on right away!
There’s a users manual included in the box written in Czech. The text wasn’t impossible to understand as I speak some Russian, but to actually get the concept? I eventually got so confused and fed up that I just tried figuring it out on my own.
Fast forward to choosing a disc attachment and filling the cylinder with dough. Let the fun begin! When I say fun, I mean I made a total mess of my kitchen – only started to get the hang of it somewhere between the 15th and 20th cookie. The predecessors were so distorted I had to mix them back in the batch.
They baked fine, taste great and in the end, after some considerable amount of practice most of them turned out looking acceptable.
I have a few observations though:
You have to have a really soft, soggy dough, otherwise you’ll need the power of a soviet nuclear reactor to press it through the tiny slits on the discs.
Forget recipes calling for anything not in powdery consistency: oatmeal, crushed walnuts and the like will plug up the device in the blink of an eye.
Also, the aluminum it’s made of is not dishwasher safe: good luck with all those small, crooked particles…
Bottom line? I totally don’t need this dough press in my life. Mom, if you’re reading this: you were wise not to ever use it!
By the way, I’ve found one of these on Etsy for $110. Give me half of that and this piece of crap history is yours!
Danish butter biscuits with almonds and vanilla.
1 vanilla bean
175 g (6 oz) sugar
200 g (7 oz) butter, room temperature
250 g (9 oz) all-purpose flour
75 g (3 oz) almond meal
pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F), line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Scrape out seeds from the vanilla pod.
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients to make a soft dough.
- Shape cookies: either fill dough into piping bag with the star nozzle attached and extrude into circles of 4 cm (1.5 inch) in diameter, or use a dough press with the disc of your choosing.
- Place cookies on baking tray about 3 cm (1 inch) apart.
- Bake for 8 min, until light golden around bottom.
Batch yields about 40 traditional ring-shaped cookies, or around 100 bite-size tea biscuits.