Thursday, January 15, 2009

Move over honey

Oh Fannie, crackers are not your friend, are they? Were you taunted with triscuits at a young age? Wounded by a wheat thin?

First we had those dreadful cheese wafers - which were more like cheese crumbs.
Now comes the Benne Pastries.

Pastries? Really? Because when I think of pastries I think of something doughy. Sometimes fluffy. Usually flakey.

These definitely fall in the "cracker" category more than the pastry category. And I'm not fooled by the mock french name. I don't think you'd find these in any patisserie.

The recipe itself has some kinks. I let the dough "chill" and it turned into a rock solid ball. Like playdough left out overnight. Not a pretty sight. I let it sit out on top of the warming stove and it was still a rock. Eventually I heave-hoed a sigh and added water until it was a workable dough ball.

As you'll see from the picture below, these "pastries" also suffered from the dreaded crumb disorder, but I was able to keep them a tad more together than the cheese wafers, although I made them a little thicker to compensate.

The black seeds might throw you a bit - don't worry, these aren't diseased cracker pastries - I used black sesame seeds. Why is that you may ask? Well, you can get a ginormous container of black sesame seeds for under a buck in the "Asian Section" of the grocery store, while a small container of sesame seeds in the baking aisle runs you closer to $5.

As for the result, I think Thatboy described them best: "You take a bite, and you're like, hmmm, these aren't bad. And then you taste the sesame seeds and are like, man this is pretty sesame seed heavy, I don't think I like them. And after you finish one, you're like, oooohhh I think I'd like another."

Benne Pastries (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp shortening
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp butter
  1. Put the sesame seeds in a skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until golden brown. Set aside. (If you use black seeds like I did, use your nose. When the seeds start to get fragrent, remove from heat.)
  2. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and cut in the shortening and butter, using a pastry cutter or two knivces,until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add the toasted sesame seeds.
  4. Beginning with 1 Tbsp, sprinkle on not more than 2 1/2 Tbsp of ice water. Stir with a fork, using only enough water to allow the dough to stick together.
  5. Pat into a ball, cover, and chill.
  6. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dought 1/4 inch thick and cut into rounds or diamonds. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 7-8 minutes.


  1. Now I know what to do with my bag of black sesame seeds - I got 'em from the Asian store too, $0.99!

  2. I like you style of writing,,,very witty!

  3. Maybe it means that I'm not a true cook, but I'm too lazy to make my own crackers. :) They're so cheap, I'll just buy them already made! I commend you on making all of these (even if they don't turn out...)

  4. Hand me some some creamy goat cheese or a wonderfully creamy local Camembert and I am in.

  5. I'm enjoying reading your thoughts on these recipes. I probably would've skipped this recipe all together... easier to buy crackers!

  6. i've got a crapload of sesame seeds, too, but i don't know if i have the patience to make homemade crackers.

  7. I think the best part of this is Thatboy's description.

  8. LOL! Taunted by Triscuits and wounded by Wheat Thins! Love it.