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I couldn’t quite figure out what to call this when I developed it. Biscuit? Scone? Shortbread? It’s rather confusing especially when different cultures use different names. For example, a cookie to an American would be a biscuit to a British. I grew up using Commonwealth English with British spelling, and use the word biscuit instead of cookie, and words like savoury bear a ‘u’ in them, as opposed to the American English version without the ‘u’. ‘Z’ is always pronounced ‘zed’ to me. Anyhow, I digress.
So this lovely crumbly delight became a biscuit even though the form factor made it look like a shortbread, but just take note that it is savoury and meant to be eaten warm alongside a meal, and is not a sweet biscuit to dip with tea. You could try, I suppose! No matter the name, my family and I can attest that this savoury biscuit is absolutely delicious.
There was a bottle of red palm oil sitting in my pantry that I wanted to use up as there wasn’t much in there left – enough for a single recipe. I wanted to make a carbohydrate side dish to accompany weekend brunch, and decided to pop the oil into the refrigerator to harden it and use it in place of butter. A lot of people describe red palm oil to taste like butter, but I personally don’t think so. It’s got a rich, floral taste and colour that is very distinctive. It doesn’t match easily with other flavour profiles, in my opinion, so I’ve been experimenting around to see how best to use it. It makes the most gorgeous roast chicken with its vivid colour, in my opinion. Here’s the recipe if you’re interested.
In this biscuit, the flavour of the red palm oil matches well with the cassava flour. Do take note that cassava flour is not the same as tapioca flour/ starch commonly available in the US. It’s not white and finely powdered like starches like tapioca/ arrowroot/ corn etc. Instead, it’s very pale off-white in colour, and has a texture similar to all-purpose flour. Naturally, it is gluten-free since it’s from the cassava plant. I buy mine from a local African grocer, but it can be found here or here. I also wanted to emphasise the savouriness of the biscuit and decided to do so with the addition of nutritional yeast, giving it a slightly nutty and parmesan cheese-like flavour. Nutritional yeast can be easily found at health food stores or online. This recipe is also coconut-free.
My family enjoys eating these biscuits freshly baked out of the oven, but they can be refrigerated and served later by reheating in the oven until warmed through. It’s great for accompanying stews, soups, or even slathered with homemade jams or pâté. Give it a try and let me know if you think it’s a biscuit or a shortbread!
- 2 cups (183g) cassava flour
- 2 tsp (6g) cream of tartar
- 1 tsp (4g) baking soda
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp (10g) nutritional yeast
- 5 tbsp (70g) red palm oil, chilled until solidified + 1 tbsp red palm oil, melted
- ½ cup water + 1tbsp water (optional, if necessary)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/ 200°C
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients together
- Coarsely grate or chop the red palm oil into the dry mixture, cutting with a pastry cutter or rubbing in with your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
- Combine the water and maple syrup and add them to the dry ingredients
- Stir to mix gently until it comes together as a ball of sticky, crumbly dough
- Turn out the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper, pat down and shape with your fingers to form a disc of ¾ inch/ 2 cm thickness
- Score with a knife into 6 - 8 wedges. Poke the dough lightly with a fork
- Spread the dough surface lightly with the melted red palm oil
- Transfer the parchment paper with the biscuit dough on it to a baking sheet
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant
- Serve warm