12 July 2019

OLIVE OIL FETA BISCUITS

Breads, biscuits, all kinds of cocktail pastry have always been a passion of mine. Ever since I learnt to bake, I’ve sincerely loved working with dough. Crumbly biscuits, such as these Feta ones, have always been so very interesting to make, and although they can be a tad fiddly and require a bit more time, it is always a labour of love.
As I have said before, in recipes with only a handful of ingredients, it all really comes down to the quality and the flavours of the said ingredients. Both Feta and the olive oil are quite flavourful and aromatic, and that slight sprinkle of oregano ties everything together and makes these a true feast in a tiny form.
I would not go as far as to compare the texture of these little gems to pâte brisée, but they most certainly have that distinct crumbly, yet melting mouthfeel, especially with Feta ever so slightly soft inside.
My love for cheese is well-known, and Feta is one of my favourites. A wonderful, soft white cheese with a distinct flavour that is sharp and tangy. Although Feta is usually associated with fresh salads, we enjoy it in pastry, as well, because it keeps its shape well when baked, and gives a delightful flavour to the finished product.
And as you can see, I’ve used two types of olive oil – light olive oil for the pastry itself, and extra virgin olive oil as a finishing adornment. Because the flavour of the extra virgin olive oil is so strong and dominant, I find it better served in smaller amounts, like a light, flavourful glaze; in this case, lightly brushed over piping hot biscuits.


Ingredients
120 ml tepid water
20 grams fresh yeast
100 ml light olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
325 grams soft bread flour
100 grams Feta cheese, cubed
25 ml extra virgin olive oil, for brushing


Preparation
Crumble the fresh yeast into a small bowl, pour in the warm water, briefly whisk to help it dissolve, and then leave it in a warm place for about 15 minutes, so it can activate. Take a large bowl, add in the light olive oil, oregano, and salt, and whisk really well. Pour in the activated yeast, briefly mix, and then sift in half of the flour. Mix briskly with a wooden spoon until a very thick batter forms, and then start adding in the rest of the flour, kneading the dough as you do. The dough should be quite supple, and ever so slightly sticky. Depending on your flour, you might need to add another tablespoon or two of flour to keep it from sticking too much, but do not add more than that.
Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm spot, until doubled. Once risen, turn the dough out on a well-floured surface, knead it briefly, and shape it into a rough ball. Weigh the dough and divide it into thirty parts by weight, because that will ensure all of them bake up evenly. Flatten each of the parts into a disk using your fingers, place a small cube of Feta in the centre, close the dough around it, and shape it into a tight sphere, rolling it on the work surface to help it form. Take a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment and arrange the rolls snugly. Let them rise for another 30 minutes or so, then bake in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for 12-15 minutes. Brush them with the extra virgin olive oil once baked. Yields 30 small biscuits.

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