Savory Walnut Cheddar Biscuits

walnut cheddar biscuits

I’d really appreciate if someone would finally explain to me the definitive difference between a scone and a biscuit because honestly, I don’t see one. Even the venerable New York Times says they’re basically the same, but if you know otherwise, enlighten me. Please and thank you.

For I can not consider myself an authority in this matter, I’m calling these flaky pastries biscuits only because they are round. I’ve posted a scone recipe before which very well could be a wedge-shaped biscuit for all I know… You see, we have no such problems here in Hungary. What you call a pogácsa – be it round, square, with egg, no egg, butter or lard, leavened or crumbly – is a pogácsa.

Anyway, cheese and walnuts. Again a combination from the savory side, I still have to make up my mind about sweet ones. There’s a nice balance in texture: slightly crispy outside, tender inside with the occasional crunch from the walnuts. Best served warm.

[Your informed speculation of a bottle of wine included somewhere is not entirely without grounds]

There is something about biscuits that make them perfect for everything. Right?!

It’s a quite forgiving pastry too. No kneading, no rising, in fact you want to handle the dough as little as possible. The ingredients can be swapped in and out depending on what you happen to have on hand: I used a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, but plain AP would be just fine. Don’t have cheddar? Think edam, gouda, parmesan. For a slight tang, sub in sour cream, natural yogurt, buttermilk, or heavy cream for the milk. These biscuits are also a great way to use up any random herbs.

Savory Walnut Cheddar Biscuits

  • Difficulty: easy
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Flaky and aromatic. Eat fresh or freeze for up to 1 month. Yield: 18-20 biscuits.

Ingredients

250 g whole wheat flour

50 g AP flour

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp baking poder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

115 g walnuts, chopped

115 g grated cheddar

115 g unsalted butter

1 medium egg, beaten

1/4 cup whole milk

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, herbs and pepper.
  2. Working quickly, cut butter into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Toss in cheese and nuts.
  4. Mix egg with milk and add to the flour mixture to moisten dough. If dough won’t come together, add a tablespoon or so more milk, but do not overwork it.
  5. Wrap dough in cling foil and refrigerate for an hour to stiffen.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and handling as little as possible, pat to about 2,5 cm (1”) thick. Using a 5 cm (2”) cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Pat scraps together to make more biscuits. Transfer to prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 15-20 min, until golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

And now you tell me: how do you like your biscuits?

Love,

Fruzsi

Expanding My Horizons: Savory Scones with Gouda and Chives

chives gouda scones

In an early summer post I’ve introduced you to pogácsa, the pastry above all else of my country. This time I’ve decided to leave my comfort zone and venture out into the world of flaky biscuits, exploring the scone kingdom. (Did not risk going all out though, as you’re about to see.)

Turns out these two are closer than I thought!

The origin of the scone is lost in the mists of the British Isles – read the clever title of one article I came across when I was doing research on the topic. They got their start as a Scottish quick bread, made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle, then scored into 4 or 6 wedges to serve.

Today’s versions are made with wheat flour, butter and milk, leavened with baking powder and baked in the oven both in the traditional wedge form and in round, square or hexagonal shapes. They are widely available in bakeries, grocery stores and supermarkets just like pogácsa, except I’ve never seen our baby cut to triangles.

And that is what actually made me want to try scones! Shapes affect our subconscious mind, could you ever have imagined?

Another important similarity between the two contenders is that making them at home is often closely tied to heritage baking. Both tend to be made using family recipes rather than recipe books, since it’s always a family member who holds the best and most treasured recipe (hello, grandma!).

But, and here’s the catch – British scones are most often sweetened, while pogácsa is always savory. I simply couldn’t deny my roots, so the search for savory scones began. And strictly entre nous, but there seems to be life beyond lemon curd, jam and clotted cream!

In parts of the world where afternoon tea is not a thing, scones have joined muffins and croissants as breakfast and on-the-go snack alternatives anyway, the same way we like to enjoy commercial pogácsa.

I’ve read through quite a lot of recipes and after much consideration decided on a cheese and herb scone. It turned out rather well: rich and sturdy and compact. I could easily break off pieces to nibble on and stowed one in my bag the next day without worrying about it getting smooshed. I also put some leftovers in the freezer wrapped in plastic, and after a round in the toaster it was like they just came out of the oven.

Verdict: definitely going to make scones again. Maybe even try a sweet one! I’m not so terribly discriminating about my biscuits after all 🙂

I can’t really tell where this recipe is adapted from as I picked out and merged and tweaked it based on about a dozen different ones, so I shall be generous with myself and call it my own.

Two things I’ve learnt along the recipe testing: it’s important not to over-mix the dough to get tender and flaky scones, and it takes a little more time to bake them golden than was suggested.

I give you the result of my trial and error:

Gouda and Chives Savory Scones

  • Difficulty: easy
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Cheesy, savory scones flavored with the subtle taste of chives. Makes 8.

Ingredients

2 cups AP flour (or 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup AP)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp chives, dried (or 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh)

1 cup shredded gouda cheese

¾ cup buttermilk

115 g (1 stick) very cold butter, cut to small cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients, including cheese and chives.
  3. Work butter cubes in the dry ingredients using your fingers until texture resembles pea-sized crumbles. Work quickly so butter stays cold.
  4. Add buttermilk, and barely stir together. Just get the dough to hold together without kneading it smooth. Lumpy is fine!
  5. Slap it on the parchment lined baking sheet and form a disc about 2,5 cm (1”) thick, handling the dough as little as possible.
  6. Cut into 8 wedges and bake until golden, 30-35 min. Enjoy warm!

chives gouda scones

chives gouda scones

Love,

Fruzsi

Pogácsa, the Savory Hungarian Scone

hungarian pumpkin seed pogacsa

Okay, so we need to talk about the concept of borkorcsolya (pron. boar-core-chow-yaah) first. Author’s note: Like, I’m sorry for frying your brains with illegible Hungarian words from time to time, but it’s kind of necessary when you talk about local stuff. Literally, it means wine-slider or wine-skid which explains it right away, but let’s just call it wine snack.

What is a wine snack? When you’re in Italy, most likely bruscetta. A cheese plate in France, and up North they have their salted herrings. Here in Hungary, we’re not that specific – every food you’d find on a charchuterie plate falls into this category, anything at all you’d enjoy along wine can serve as wine snack, really.

But, there’s always a first among equals: most admired of all the bite-sized amuse-bouches is pogácsa (pron. pou-gah-cha), official BFF of Wine. And beer. It’s the most appreciated snack at every party, ceremony, soiree, backyard barbecue, game night or any such social gathering. Pogácsa FTW!

hungarian pumpkin seed pogacsa with wine

What’s in a name? Linguistic evidence suggests this pastry used to be a type of unleavened flat bread: focus is latin for fire. The Italian flat bread is called focaccia, and the Southern Slavic version of that name was adopted by us. I will still call this scone-like thing a Hungarian specialty, as the recipe evolved and became distinct of this region.

There are two basic types of pogácsa: the fluffier leavened, and the crumblier unleavened. Neither require special skill to make, and both taste awesome – if you use quality ingredients, that is. Butter, or rather lard instead of vegetable shortening, good cheese, creamy quark, organic seeds.

The dough is rolled out, the top is usually cut in a diamond pattern. Pogácsa is then formed using round cookie cutters, the smaller the diameter the better. Egg wash gives the desired color during baking, favorite toppings include grated cheese and various seeds. Needless to say, it’s best eaten warm.

Also, my granny’s is better than yours. 🙂

Today I brought to you the easier unleavened variety, but a leavened, laminated pogácsa will also make its way to the blog soon. This recipe is from the April issue of Magyar Konyha magazine, and it turned out so good I did not alter it in any way.

hungarian pumpkin seed pogacsa

hungarian pumpkin seed pogacsa

Pumpkin seed flour and tangy quark cheese gives this one a nice twist. I used Gouda cheese on top. If you don’t have pumpkin seed flour at home, don’t worry, neither do I! Just pulse pumpkin seeds in the food processor until you reach the desired consistency. I like to keep it a little coarser. Here we go:

Pumpkin Seed Pogácsa

  • Difficulty: easy
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A savory, scone-like Hungarian pastry enriched with pumpkin seeds and tangy quark cheese. Makes cca. 65 4 cm pieces.

Ingredients

250 g AP flour

250 g quark

250 g butter

100 g pumpkin seed flour

2 tsp salt

1 egg + 1 for the eggwash

grated cheese for topping

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients except one egg and topping cheese until incorporated in a large bowl with your hands.
  2. Wrap dough in cling foil and refrigerate for an hour, or as long as overnight.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
  4. Roll out dough around 1” thick, cut out rounds.
  5. Place scones on baking sheet, wash with egg, top with grated cheese.
  6. Bake until golden, about 45 min.

Love,

Fruzsi