Saturday, March 19, 2011


Could you please kindly have a look at the photographs below and tell me what they look like? Scones? Biscuits? Both? Or what else?
Well, they are some light, fluffy, cheesy and savory rolls of bread which would make wonders for the weekend breakfast. But I didn’t know that these round-shaped pieces of bread I made are called angel biscuits beforehand. When it came to title this post, it turned to be an enormous question mark. I could have just told you that these are homemade pogacas as they are widely referred to in Turkey but I wanted to find the corresponding word in other cuisines. So, I started to read on different types of bread, biscuits and scones and the regional variations. I was amazed and puzzled by the result. The names, ingredients and also the way people in different countries make them differ a great deal. After reading some time, I reached the following conclusions (I know it sounds quite academic to put it this way):

  • Since my recipe results in round-shaped pieces of bread with a browned crust and a soft interior, they resemble British scones or all biscuits in the United States in appearance.
  • A biscuit, as widely used in popular American English, is made with baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent. However, I used yeast instead.That’s why, they cannot be referred to as "quick breads," as are biscuits often collectively referred to because they need time to rise before baking. So, they are similar to "angel biscuit" which utilizes yeast, a touch of sugar, and buttermilk.
  • In traditional biscuit doughs butter or shortening is cut into the dry ingredients but the fat in these rolls comes from vegetable oil and milk.
  • Also, while scones are served with coffee and tea or as a dessert, biscuits are served more as a bread, often with breakfast. In this sense, my recipe would serve much more as biscuits.
  • Traditional scone dough is refrigerated for at least 2 hours before it is cut into rounds but you don't have to refrigerate the dough.
  • They are similar to "cheese biscuits" in the way I added cheese but instead of adding the cheese directly to the dough, I wrapped a little of cheese in each ball. This recipe uses fresh ricotta, but use any cheese you like, from gruyere to parmesan.
  • I didn't roll out the dough flat and cut it into rounds as they do for scones or biscuits. Instead, I took small pieces from the dough and rolled over each lump into mini balls and placed them into muffin liners.
  • Herbs like parsley or chives make a nice addition as well. Sesame, black cumin seeds or even poppy seeds may garnish the top.
  • 1 scant tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • active dry yeast (1 scant tablespoon)
  • ¾ cup warm milk
  • ¼ cup mineral water
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening. 1 cup butter, melted and cooled may be substituted.
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, feel free to add more gradually while kneading if you think the dough is too sticky.
  • 1 ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • sesame and black cumin seeds
  1. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk with sugar, salt and mineral water. Let stand until creamy looking about 5 minutes. Add the shortening. Make sure all you've had the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, stir milk, yeast and oil mixture into the flour. Keep adding extra flour if necessary. When a non-sticky dough forms, cover with a damp towel or lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, or about 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  4. Break off small lumps of dough and pat lightly into flattened circles of a 1/2-inch thickness. Put a teaspoon of cheese on each and close them up folding the edges upwards like a bundle. Roll over a few times until the folded sides are at the bottom forming a ball. Place each into a muffin liner or on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
  5. Beat the egg yolk and coat each roll with it using a brush. Garnish with sesame and black cumin seeds. Bake until golden on top 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

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