Tuesday, August 21, 2007

short 'n salty — a buttery teatime snack

these are not really crackers but more pleasantly salty and buttery shortbread pastries, somewhat comparable to cookies. called galettes salées, these delicate moroccan (sephardic) dainties are studded with sesame seeds and aniseed and commonly kept in a tin in many a kitchen. some of my friends' grandmothers usually keep tons of these frozen after their weekly baking frenzies, maintaining a steady supply for always hungry grandchildren (and adults!) .

they are fairly simple and straightforward to make but do take a bit of patience as there is mixing, rolling, cutting and docking involved, not to mention baking! don't let that deter you from trying your hand at these, however. using a food processor makes a fast and painless execution of putting everything together. if you don't have a processor, they can still be made by hand or standard mixer.

the following recipe is from a cookbook (a joan nathan one, i think — have it [recipe] scribbled on a recipe card) and almost exactly identical to my original, given to me many years ago by a good friend's aunt. as i seem to have misplaced that one, this will be second best — but in no way less worth making. there is virtually little, if any, difference in taste when all is said and done. this recipe has 2 tbsp of the now considered no-no of shortening (transfat blah blah blah; haven't died yet from it and 2 tbsp won't kill you). i'm not sure what the result of using only butter will be but i'm quite satisfied with the outcome of the ingredients listed below, transfat or no transfat.

and now for the recipe ....

les (petites) galettes salées

good for those times when you want something savoury rather than sweet, these are buttery , salty and short-crusted ..... quite different from your normal snack. what makes them north african (moroccan) is the use of both sesame and anise seeds, common in many such baked goods, from breads to both sweet and savoury cookies and pastries.

makes 22 to 24 galettes (i suggest doubling or tripling recipe)


4 tbsp butter*, unsalted (@ room temp)
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
2 tsp sugar

*you can use parve margarine; it turns out good but don't expect the same final flavour you'll get from butter

1 egg yolk

2 tsp sesame seeds
1 - 1 ½ tsp anise seeds
3/4 tsp (kosher) salt
2 tsp baking powder

1 c flour, divided in 1/3 cups

2 tbsp very cold water


in processor or with mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar.

add the egg yolk, seeds, salt, and baking powder and mix well until incorporated.

add the flour in three additions.

by the end of the third addition, it should be a sandy and crumbly mixture.

add the water in two additions and PULSE the mixture until it comes together. do not overwork the dough. if using a mixer, mix enough until it comes into a ball, more or less.

after second tablespoon of water (pulse only 2 or 3 times):

it is important for the final texture that you don't knead the dough at all.

place the dough in a bowl and refrigerate it, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes.

preheat oven to 400 F.

take the dough and shape it into either a round or a rectangle or square.

place it on a well floured surface, and roll out the dough until it is about 3/8" thick. you may find it more convenient to roll out the dough on the piece of parchment you'll be baking on. you can also use an extra piece of either wax paper or parchment to cover the dough and roll it out. this is a little easier for the beginner or those who have problems making pastries.

either use a knife or a fluted pastry roller (cutter) and square off the rough edges. place the scraps in a bowl and cover it. to use them up, see the end of this recipe.

cut out your shapes — you can make squares, rectangles, fingers, or diamonds (if you've rolled it out in the round). you can also use cookie cutters.

take a fork and dock the galettes all over. you can also take a knife and make little cuts to make a pattern. you must either dock or cut the dough so it will not puff in the oven. there is a special cutter for galettes which looks like a pastry wheel and is used to decorate these kinds of pastries; it is a specialty item (not available in north america that i know of), so just use a knife or prick all over with the tines of fork.

separate the galettes carefully and place them equidistant on your baking sheet. bake the galettes for only 20 minutes or just until they are lightly browned and golden coloured. they must not brown.

let the galettes cool. be careful, as they are very delicate until they cool.

usually served with tea.


i suggest keeping these in the fridge or freezer to keep them at their best. they don't fare too well, taste-wise, sitting out in a warm kitchen for several days, in my opinion.

burekaboy's recipe extra:

how to use up those scraps effectively

this method for reworking scraps of pastry is good for all kinds of dough (pie dough, cookie dough, etc) . it does not incorporate any extra flour and is the least brutal on the dough with respect to rolling, two things which often result in inferior secondary baked goods. if your dough is very high in fat or moisture, you may need a bit of flour, however. key to success is keeping the scraps somewhat chilled and not working the pastry remnants at all.

take a piece of wax paper, no flour needed in this instance, and fold it in half (place the scraps in a little mound).

fold the wax paper or parchment over and start to roll. DO NOT KNEAD THE SCRAPS BEFOREHAND!

roll it out to the appropriate thickness.

open up the wax paper, recut the dough and proceed as explained above or in your recipe.

neat, clean, easy ;)


Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

Combines all my fave flavors into one - sweet, salt and spice.

Thanks for a gorgeous recipe.

Roo said...

Sounds brill - now, have you ever posted equivalent measures for spoons of butter and halves of cups, so us back in the sunny UK can make headway.

To be honest, some of us are still using imperial and struggling with metric, so it can all get a bit complicated ;o)

Cheers, Roo

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Again another wonderful and tasty recipe that I'm going to keep! Your shortbreads look ever so perfect!!! Wow, chapeau!

burekaboy — said...

tbtam - thanks & glad you like ;)

roo - actually, i have something i have been working on (chart sort of thing) which i will post sometime in the near future. i wish there was only ONE single standardized system. lol, ummm, i believe that WAS supposed to be called the metric system!

rosa - merci, ma chere :) vraiment, elles ne sont pas tellement dificiles a faire — j'ai ete paresseux ce jour la, alors je ne les ai pas fait avec des petits moules [pour decouper des formes differentes]. ca donne la plus grande "recolte", la maniere comment je les ai decoupees ici dans les photos.

Jihan said...

these loook soooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooooood.

Remind me of the days when bread was expensive. And we use to wolf down a whole pack of salted biscuits and tea in the morning for breakfast with boil eggs. And then bread got cheap and we got lazy to butter each individual biscuits, and they were so smaller than the bread...

I hope one day when I have my own kitchen I try to make these...

burekaboy — said...

PJ - :p they disappear very fast when they get made!

i'm sure, one day, you'll have your own kitchen and be VERY, VERY busy cooking and baking :)

(you have so many stories from back home; you should write a little book!)

Chanita Harel חני הראל said...

מאוד יפה
הצילומים מקסימים, כל הכבוד
* אוהבת כאלו

burekaboy — said...

חנית - מזלי שיש לי הרבה סבלנות

תודה רבה

Vcuisine said...

this is something worth trying BB. Lovely recipe. Viji

burekaboy — said...

thanks, viji. they're nice to keep on hand for when you want something that is not sweet.

Unknown said...

hi burekaboy, i made these today. they came out alright for the first time, but yours look so much tastier and flakier! my dough didn't look like yours either. i doubled the recipe, maybe it didn't need 4 tbsp of water to be added? plus your dough looks so much more yellow!

anyways they do taste good. the flavor reminds me a bit of the homemade matzos that my egyptian family makes. we make a sweet version and a savory one; the sweet one uses ground or whole anise & fennel seeds and the savory one uses ground cumin & coriander. you spread the dough thinly onto a sheet pan, cut into diamond shapes, and then bake. i could give you the recipe if you like. very different texture and richness though as they use oil and these are butter shortbread. thanks for your recipe, i hope i can make them come out better next time.

burekaboy — said...

hey dan - sorry to hear it didn't work out so well :(

this is a bit of a more "complicated" recipe in that it is fussy -- as with most shortbread recipes, you really only combine the fat with the flour until it comes together. if you mix it too much, you develop the gluten and get a tough texture and not a "short" (flaky) one. another thing is that depending upon your measurements, you may not need all the water; really, it's only added to help combine the flour if it is not making a cohesive dough. the last thing is that they really need to have the correct thickness when being rolled out. you need a 1/4 inch.

from what you said, they were still edible. maybe try them again later on but only make the amount i give here (for 22/24 pcs) and go easy on the water. i also like to roll them out between wax paper or parchment. much easier and less messy. if you need to, chill the dough. hope that helps a bit. again, sorry it didn't come out as nicely as you wanted. (oh yeah, colour may be due to oven temp?) like i said, retry it and evaluate again.

sure, would love to see/try your recipe for the matzot. you can email me if you want (address is on side bar near top of page). thx!