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Astypalaian Biscuits, sort of

April 4, 2007

Astypalaian Close Up

Last week I found this random recipe for Greek Saffron biscuits. I am new the world of saffron, but I love Greek food, and these sounded pretty good. Apparently, they are these religious holiday-related biscuits that are only made on this Greek Island called Astypalaia. The ladies of the island of course harvest local saffron, and they make these only once a year or something, and they’re special. They also are supposed to take something like seven hours. I do not have seven hours of baking patience, especially not these days. So I decided to modify a little. Call it sacreligious if you will. This version is probably not the way they are supposed to be, but they were still good. Ignore the fact that they are shaped a little like poo.

These are meant to be baked for five hours at a low temperature, until all the moisture has been baked right out of them and they are presumably rock hard. This seems to make them last longer or something? I don’t really like rock hard biscuits. I baked them for less time. I also couldn’t find whole-fat cottage cheese at the hippy mart, because it’s the freaking hippy mart. How many times to I have to say it: They have nothing I need, ever, at the hippy mart. The only change I might make to this in the future would be to add a ton more salt, because I like things salty. But as they are these are very unique savory biscuit treats.

Astypalaian Yellow (Saffron) Biscuits, or Astypalaian Biscuits, Sort Of

  • 1 c. milk
  • 3/4 tsp. saffron threads
  • 3/4 c. cottage cheese (or farmer’s cheese. I don’t even really know what farmer’s cheese is)
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened and beatable (I melted it partially in the microwave)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk (try to use only half the egg yolk, if you can)
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper (the recipe calls for white pepper, but I used black)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (or go crazy and use a whole teaspoon)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 T. active dry yeast

The measurements are different from the original recipe, because I halved it. I really didn’t see any need to bake 5 dozen biscuits. We are only three tiny girls in my house.

In a saucepan, warm the milk with the saffron. Simmer until the milk is really yellow and starts to smell a little saffron-y.

In a smallish mixing bowl, beat the cottage cheese, butter, olive oil, and egg yolk together. Measure 3/4 of a cup of the saffron milk and add it to the bowl. Then put the tablespoon of yeast into the remaining warm saffron milk and let it sit for about five minutes. Continue to mix the cottage cheese mixture, adding about half a cup of flour to thicken it a little.

Halved biscuit

In a larger mixing bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with allspice, pepper, salt, and baking powder. Make a little hole in the middle and pour in the cottage cheese and the yeasty milk mixtures. Mix it all together until you have a ball of dough that is not too sticky, and kind of smooth. You might have to add a bit more flour, or a bit of water. Cover it up with a towel or plastic wrap or something, and let it rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Take pieces of dough a little bigger than golf balls, and roll them out into cords about 1/2 an inch thick and 6 to 8 inches long. Fold them up to make little rings (I ended up making little Q shapes), and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet, with a bit of room for expansion.

Bake them for about 25 minutes, and then take them out of the oven to cool off a little. Lower the heat to 175F. This is where I diverged from the traditional path–I only let them bake for another 30 minutes or so, where you are supposed to let them bake for another five hours. FIVE HOURS, people! Who has time for that? Little old Greek ladies, that’s who. I thought they were perfectly tasty and delectable after only an additional 30 minutes, which was just long enough for them to start to brown a tiny bit around the edges.

I ended up with about 15 biscuits, which is more than enough for my household. If anyone decides to try out the old-fashioned seven hour version, please let me know how they turn out. Are they supposed to be like biscotti? I mean, they are plenty dry as they are. And would using farmer’s cheese have affected them much? What the crap is farmer’s cheese?

Well, all I can say is hopefully this baking adventure will get me back in the kitchen on a more regular basis. I’ve been neglecting the stove lately, out of sheer laziness, and that has to stop. You should see more of me in the future. Though I’m not sure you’ll see more pictures, because Word Press doesn’t seem to want to let me upload anything. Sigh.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2007 4:32 pm

    Wonderful. Never made a bread with cheese, but I’ve seen a few recipes lately (saw once recently with ricotta), so my interest is surely piqued. Cheers!

  2. April 5, 2007 8:26 am

    Ha! You crack me up! I didn’t think they looked like poo until you said something. heee!

    As for farmer’s cheese – I can not tell you exactly what it is, other than it’s semi-soft, white and my father ate it every morning, melted on toast, for 15 years. Does that help? I think it’s on the salty side, but I’m not sure.. I never tasted it.

  3. April 5, 2007 11:46 am

    Hm, well, I did pick the least poo-looking pictures.

    I wonder where one can find farmer’s cheese around these parts? I’ll have to keep my eyes out. I’ve heard you can substitute feta, so I assume it is a bit salty. Maybe that’s why they weren’t salty tasting enough for me? That might help in the future.

  4. Mr X. permalink
    April 5, 2007 12:58 pm

    Seems like you could substitute Neuchatel, Queso Blanco, or fake it by pressing out the moisture from cottage cheese.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmer_cheese

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queso_blanco

    http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/neufchatel/neufchatel.htm

    Or you could make it :-)

    http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/Farmers_Cheese.htm

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