Last Friday night, after we had consumed copious amounts of Friday night pizza, we bid a fond farewell to Ted Lasso, our favorite sports figure. We were feeling a little sad after watching this season’s finale, and thought it would cheer us up to bake some of the biscuits Coach Lasso baked to ingratiate himself with his intimidating team owner, Rebecca. Apple TV+ has an official recipe, and then there is a fancier Milk Bar recipe, which claimed to be an improvement on the original. We then engaged in one of our favorite activities – a science fair experiment comparing recipes.
I had to explain who Ted Lasso is to the woman who cuts my hair. Between our masks and the roar of the hair dryers it was hard to convey the sweetness and the sly humor of the coaching staff of AFC Richmond, because she is a true crime TV aficionado, and had never heard of Ted Lasso. Sigh. In case you haven’t heard of Ted Lasso, it is a delightful Apple TV+ series about an American football coach who has been hired to coach an English football (soccer) team. It is less about football than it is about optimism. And kindness. It has been a genuine feel-good show through the depths of the pandemic. Go get a free trial subscription and catch up this weekend. It is goofy, poignant, and yes, there is some soccer. And biscuits.
It is difficult scientifically to prove which biscuit recipe tastes better, since the orginal is a fictional, magical biscuit that fictional, magical human Coach Lasso bakes every day. He might have a secret ingredient unknown to the corporate heads at Apple TV. Coach might have a little stash of pixie dust tucked away in a kitchen drawer with those little toy soldiers. Ted might imbue the biscuits with hope and optimism much needed on and off the pitch. And all we have is what we bring home from the grocery store, and concoct in the midst of our own messy lives.
We are rounding the corner, heading into baking season, and the holidays where little gifts of food are welcome. Go find some pink card stock, bring your butter to room temp, and prepare to mix up a batch of hope; you are on your way to the premier league. And do not, under any circumstances, buy pre-fab boxes. Make your own. These are deeply satisfying to assemble: http://www.saltharvestcreatives.com/-free_printable_ted_lasso_biscuit_box.pdf
This is the “official” streaming service-sanctioned recipe:
Ted Lasso’s Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 300° F.
Sift flour and salt, mix into bowl and set aside.
Mix butter on high speed until fluffy (3 to 5 minutes).
Gradually add sugar slowly, continuing to mix until pale and fluffy.
Add flour all at once and mix until combined.
Butter a square pan.
Pat and roll shortbread into pan no more than 1/2-inch thick.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Cut into squares.
Bake until golden and make sure the middle is firm, approximate bake time 45 to 60 minutes.
Now, here is a fancier version, as devised by Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame, who also believes in gussying up birthday cakes with acres of sprinkles:
Ted Lasso x Milk Bar Biscuits
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Heat an oven to 315 degrees and prepare an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugars vigorously until smooth.
Stir in the egg yolks. Add the flour and salt, mix just until the dough comes together. (“The less you mix the dough, the more positive vibes your biscuits will have,” according to Tosi.)
Using damp hands, press the dough in an even layer in the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a thin, golden brown layer forms on top. Let cool completely before cutting into two even columns and then six even rows. Arrange in pink boxes if you have them.
Yield: 12 Lasso-size slices
Here’s a link to Tosi’s famous birthday cake: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/momofuku-milk-bars-birthday-layer-cake
Food52 has a recipe for shortbread biscuits that is not for the faint of heart, or anyone in a hurry – they require 90 minutes of baking time. https://food52.com/blog/24156-how-to-make-shortbread-cookies-bien-cut-bakery
Ultimately, these are all well and good, tasty and dense, and are sure to brighten anyone’s day. But I prefer something a little less dense, and more crumbly. I like a classic shortbread, one that we bake when trying to recall a special trip to Scotland (without invoking the haggis experience). Granulated sugar and confectionary sugar are so different.
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks, cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
Heat oven to 325°F. Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs.
Press dough into an even layer in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, or a 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.
“I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” —Ted Lasso