Everyone in the family has struggled to reproduce my Budapest cousin Judit’s cheesy, two-bite Hungarian biscuits. She tells people the ingredients, but the biscuits never turn out. I suspect she is being coy. However, I have foiled her. After tinkering and even using less butter than she recommended, I came up with these more than reasonable facsimiles.
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour (9 oz/255 g) + more for dusting
1 tsp (5 mL) each: table salt, baking powder
3/4 cup (175 mL) cold, unsalted butter (6 oz/175 g)
8 oz (250 g) pressed cottage cheese
4 oz (125 g) smoked gouda, finely shredded
1 large egg
2 tsp (10 mL) milk
In large bowl, whisk together 2 cups (500 mL) flour, salt and baking powder.
Using large holes of box grater, quickly shred butter. Add to flour mixture. Rub in with fingers just until butter is coated and no longer in clumps. (Do not overmix.) Add cottage cheese. Mix with hands just until dough comes together. Sprinkle in gouda. Knead lightly to combine. Pat dough into ball, then press into disc. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 15 minutes, or until firmed up slightly.
Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place 2 racks above and below centre tier. Preheat oven to 325F (160C).
In small bowl, make egg wash by whisking together egg and milk.
Lightly dust work surface with flour. Roll dough into oval 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick. Punch out rounds with floured, 1-3/8 inch (3 cm) round biscuit cutter. Place on prepared sheets 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Re-roll scraps, punch out more rounds and add to baking sheet.
Brush tops lightly with egg wash. (You will have some left. Discard it.) Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Switch racks at halftime.
Tool Time: Use a non-serrated cookie/biscuit cutter.
Oh No: Don’t let egg wash drip down the sides of the biscuit dough. It can act like glue.
Shopping Cart: For this recipe, I used a package of pressed cottage cheese, with the label specifying 0.5% milk fat and 78% moisture. Supermarkets sell it. Do not mistakenly buy creamed cottage cheese in a tub.
Kitchen Secrets: Shredding cold butter is a superior alternative to pulsing it with flour in a food processor.
P is for Pogacsa: In Hungarian, pogacsa means scone or cake. But everyone knows pogacsa specifically refers to the savoury, flaky biscuits that are ubiquitous in Hungary. The most popular type is made with pork crackling called töpörtyú, or sometimes with smoked bacon. (Try: Potato & Bacon Pogacsa.)
CREDIT: SUSAN SAMPSON
TESTED IN IMPERIAL
Smoky Cheese Pogacsa, centre, and Potato & Bacon Pogacsa. Credit: Susan Sampson