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
- 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.)
- 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.
- Add the toasted sesame seeds.
- 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.
- Pat into a ball, cover, and chill.
- 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.