Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The woes of a biscuit maker

Last night, I tried making biscuits using a hand-press biscuit maker such as this one. It was, shall we say, less than a smashing success. I had aimed at shaped biscuits, but the dough wouldn't stick to the cookie sheet and the structure didn't seem right either. As it was my first attempt at using the biscuit-maker, I have no idea what went wrong. I used a recipe based on a recipe found on the web, which was supposed to work for a biscuit maker:

about 3\4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 pinch salt
500g flour (plain)
1 cup of oil
3 tsp. of cocoa powder
1 tbsp. of orange zest

I also added just a tiny bit of water, because the dough kept falling apart. In the end, nothing helped, and I gave up and shaped my cookies by hand.
This is what I got. I dusted them with mixture of powdered almond and peanut before baking for approx. 15 minutes on low, until they were slightly browned.

They are actually quite good, but I would appreciate the advice of those who are experienced in the usage of a biscuit maker, and I'd be happy to get a good, tried-and-true recipe. Thank you ladies!

18 comments:

Mrs. Taft said...

I have a lot more luck with solid fat that is cold, like butter or lard. Good luck!

The Original Wombman said...

Never used a biscuit maker myself so I can't help with a suggestion. I hate uni-taskers in the kitchen! What I use to cut out biscuits are these http://www.amazon.com/CIA-Masters-Collection-Piece-Cutter/dp/B000HV8YX2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1262171169&sr=1-3, which can also be used for cookies. It's pretty quick and I've never thought to myself, "Wow, I really could use a contraption to make these!" Plus, they're pretty cheap compared to the biscuit cutter.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Do you mean what we in the US call a cookie press?

Sadly, I have no experience with one myself but look forward to another lady's handy tips.

J in VA

Anonymous said...

1 and a half cup butter
3 and one quarter cup white flour
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
one half teaspoon almond extract if desired.
one quarter cup cocoa powder
Beat butter on high 30 seconds.
Beat all but 2 cups of the flour and cocoa until combined then add the cocoa and flour and beat again till combined. Do not chill dough ,force through press, bake 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. they do NOT brown but the edges will be firm.
If you look up Spritz cookies you may find more recipes.
The only other hint I have is do not change the recipe ! And every time up pull the trigger or turn the handle (whichever way it works) do not pull up imeadiately it kind of needs to stick itself to the cookie sheet before you can lift the press and the dough tears away from the press. These are difficult at the very first to do .you need to bend down and watch at first how much dough is squishing out you want enough to form the cookie completely but not smash the design with too much dough. Then decide to experiment on a dozen or so and the scoop them back in and begin when you feel you have begun to master it.They are great tasteing one of my favorites.Hope this is helpful.

Lori said...

Anna,

I've never heard of a biscuit maker...what do they look like?

I roll out our biscuits with a rolling pin and use different shapes of cookie cutters just for fun.

Heather said...

Anna~

I have used this recipe for years and it has never failed me. It isn't chocolate though, you could probably substitute part of the flour for cocoa powder if you wanted chocolate cookies.

Sift together in bowl
2 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Using pastry cutter blend until it resembles coarse crumbs
1 cup unsalted butter

Break egg into measuring cup if it doesn't measure 1/4 cup add water to equal 1/4 cup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Add to mixture and beat well. Then chill in refrigerator until firm. If the dough becomes to soft while using re-chill it slightly.
Bake for 9-11 in a 350 degree oven.

Good luck and enjoy.

if it is a bit dry add 1 tablespoon water

Rosemary said...

Hi Anna, I use a cookie press very much like the one in the photo. I use it for Spritz cookies, which use butter not oil. Anyway, when I did not have an electric mixer, I found the dough I mixed by hand too dry.(I would try to add water as you did, to no avail). The electric mixer really results in a workable dough. I usually do a few practice presses with the cookie press,adjusting the thickness of the cookie to where I want it. Once I get the first good one out, it usually takes about a push and a half for each cookie. I am sorry that I don't have more hints, other than the electric mixer resulting in a moister dough.Truly, I had come to dread trying to use the cookie press, but the mixer has made it a happy experience.

Emily G. said...

In America we call that gizmo a cooky press. The cookies made with it are usually spritz cookies. They are a butter cooky. I think maybe the oil you used messed up the texture...that recipe does not look like any spritz recipe I have ever seen/used. Here is a recipe very similar to the one I use which works very well for me. http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Classic-Spritz-Cookies

That is a basic recipe which you can change by colouring, flavouring and decorating them differently. If you want to try a different recipe, I suggest Googling "spritz cookies". You get quite a bit of results that look promising.

Good luck!

Rachel said...

First of all, when I read the updated post list, and saw the thumbnail, I was thinking "my goodness, her biscuits are DARK" (biscuits here are not cookies...lol)..

I'm trying to understand the differences in lingo...is a biscuit cutter a cookie cutter? Shaped metal or plastic bit, you push down into the dough? Plastic ones are problematic, and I don't use them as a result. The metal ones tend to work better for me/mine.

For shaping/cutting, you may want to try a butter or sugar cookie recipe. Very basic. And there are LOADS of them out there. I know Food Network in the US has some good recipes, as does the Pioneer Woman website (I've got some of her sugar cookie dough chilling in my refrigerator).

It may be that you need to add some more liquid to the recipe. Does the recipe come from a website which allows comments, like a blog, or a foodwebsite, or is it just one of those "here's a recipe, try it" places?

Not being sure how keeping kosher affects cookie baking, I'm trying to think of the ones I make, and most of them call for butter as well as eggs (I'm not sure, but I think that you cannot mix dairy and eggs?)...I would definitely look around for some other recipes...I'll look through what I have around here, but not being sure what rules there are for your kitchen...

I generally don't make shaped cookies, though--I use the scoop and plop method, or the scoop and roll into a ball method (then roll it into more sugar). LOL

GL...at least they taste good. I've made a lot that aren't so blessedly good. And they looked bad, too.

Anonymous said...

I believe your problem in your biscuit recipe was the oil. My mother and grandmother made these cookies quite frequently during the holidays. I myself have children with all sorts of allergies and given my knowlege of substitution I don't think you can get away with using oil as the fat in this recipe. You need either butter or shortening or a fat that is a solid at room temperature. Your cooking oil is 100% fat rather than other fats[butter and shortening] that are 80% fat.

Rose said...

Hello Anna, I've never used a biscuit hand press such as you describe but these tips that may help. Biscuit dough needs to be cold, after mixing it pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes or so. Could the press be chilled too?

Try to avoid adding water or milk after you've mixed your dough, it tends to make the biscuits 'cake-y'. Try beating the wet ingredients a lot more, use an electric mixer if you have one; and sift the dry ingredients before adding them to the wet.

Do you use dairy products? I'm not sure. if so, i'll send through a recipe. Regards from Rose

Milehimama said...

In America, those are called Spritz cookies. I agree about the oil and also about the flour - 500 g. is about 4 1/2 c. of flour, a crazy amount for the amount of fat/eggs called for!

You might try this recipe:
http://www.joyofbaking.com/SpritzCookies.html

Mrs. Pear said...

I have had better success if I put my dough in the fridge for at least half an hour, and then start, returning the bowl to the fridge between batches if need be.

Also, it will stick to the pan better if you use ungreased parchment or silpat rather than just a greased cookie sheet.

Lisa said...

Like others have said, use butter instead of oil and make sure the dough has chilled. Chilled dough makes all the difference!

MrsKassandra said...

I second those earlier who suggested googling spritz cookies...I think a recipe for those would work out well, shape wise, for you. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I've made this type of cookie for years and it just takes a bit of practice to get the press to work. I second everyone who said look for a spritz cookie recipe, this is the kind of dough the press was designed to use. And oil will definitely not work.
To chill or not to chill? Depends on the recipe and the temperature in your home. Dough that is too cold will be hard to push through the press and they will not stick to the sheet. If it's too warm it will also not stick well. The dough should be firm, but not hard or really stiff. It should not be really soft or stick to your fingers when packing the press. When you pack it into the press be sure to pack it without gaps, and the dough should not be crumbly.

Getting them to stick to the cookie sheet is a mix of getting the dough right and the correct pressure when pushing the cookie through. As someone else said, it takes about one and a half pushes on the handle. You should feel the cookie pushing up the press just a little, then stop and pull up. Just keep trying and you'll get the feel for it. Be sure to cool the cookie sheet completely before putting the next batch on the sheet. If it's hot it will melt the fat in the dough and the cookies will not stick.

If you don't chill the dough and it won't stick try chilling it, if it's chilled and won't work, let it warm up a little. Press cookies are a trial and error cookie. Good luck!

Mrs. R said...

Hi Anna,
You got some excellent advice on the need for a solid shortening instead of oil. If you need a solid shortening that is NOT hydrogenated (very important for your health!) than you can try palm shortening. I get mine at a health food store here in the US.
Blessings,
~Mrs. R

Amy said...

With my cookie press, I have found the secret to be is being sure the dough is pressed in very well making for a dough full of less air bubbles. If I do not pack the cookie dough in *very* tightly, the shapes turn out poorly.

I would also second the advice to use a solid fat rather than oil. Butter, palm shortening, and coconut oil will all yield a better result with the press. Also being sure the dough is room temp will help as well.