Friday, January 27, 2012

Daring Bakers: Biscuits

Wow! I have been a very bad blogger lately. I just realized it's been well over a month since I last posted. I guess I have either been too tired to bake and write or involved with too many other projects to stop in and say hello. And, while I sort of enjoyed the break, I promise to try to get back on track.

What better way to get back in the baking groove then with good 'ole fashioned, down home biscuits. They are quick, versatile, and if made properly, sinfully delicious. The thing is... they are not that simple to make. Ingredient wise, yes, they only require a few basic pantry items. But, beyond that it takes finesse and a gentle hand to avoid the dreaded hockey puck.

Now, I am from the Midwest. We are known for many things... biscuits not being one of them. I also wasn't fortunate enough to be blessed with a family member who possessed "magic biscuit fingers" or a secret family recipe that produced the lightest, fluffiest biscuits in town. Nope. I grew up on Pillsbury crescent rolls (which I am not knocking 'cause they're pretty good), but rather establishing my baseline.

Yes, I have made homemade biscuits in the past, but I have never been totally satisfied with the results. It seemed no matter which techniques I used or recipe I tried, I could never achieve the ultimate, flaky, sop up every ounce of gravy on your plate sort of biscuit. So, I was thrilled to find out that Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers' host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens! Could these be the ones?

Well, Aud's recipe and techniques produced very good biscuits.... better that most I have tried. They were light and fluffy, had good flavor and color, but still not quite the ultimate. I will make them again for sure, but I think I will continue my search... maybe it's just not in my blood.

Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company 


Basic Biscuits  
Recipe adapted from Audax Artifex
Makes about 8 2-inch biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoon frozen butter, grated
1/2 cup whole milk, cold

Preheat oven to 475-degrees.

Grate butter into small bowl and place in freezer.

Triple sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add butter to flour mixture and rub butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.

Add nearly all of the liquid at once into flour/butter mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the biscuits will be.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Lightly flour top of dough. Knead dough very gently, about 4 or 5 times, until it is smooth (do not press too firmly). Gently pat dough into a rectangle and fold into thirds. Turn dough 90-degrees. Again, gently pat into rectangle and fold into thirds. Turn dough 90-degrees. Repeat this process 3-5 times.

Gently pat or roll dough into a 6" x 4" rectangle about ¾-inch thick. Using a well-floured 2-inch circle cutter, cut without twisting six 2-inch rounds. Gently reform the scraps into another ¾-inch layer and cut two more circles (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or, use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.

For soft-sided biscuits, place dough circles so they are just touching in a baking dish.  For crisp-sided biscuits, space dough circles evenly apart on a cookie sheet. Brush tops with milk.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until biscuits are well risen and lightly colored on the tops. Biscuits are ready when sides are set. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process. Serve warm.

Buttermilk: Follow recipe above, but replace milk with buttermilk, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and increase fat to 4 tablespoons. In Step 3, aim for pea-sized pieces of fat coated in flour. Brush with buttermilk.

Cream: Follow recipe above, but replace milk with cream and add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. In Step 3, aim for sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour. Brush with cream.

Cheese and Chive: Follow recipe above, but add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, and after Step 2 add into the sifted ingredients: ½ teaspoon sifted mustard powder, ¼ teaspoon sifted cayenne pepper (optional), ½ cup grated cheese and 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives. In Step 3, aim for sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour. Sprinkle the rounds with cracked pepper.

Fresh Herb: Follow recipe above, but after Step 3 add 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives etc).

Sweet Fruit: Follow recipe above, but after Step 3 add ¼ cup dried fruit (e.g. raisins, currents, cranberries, cherries, etc) and 1 tablespoon sugar.

Wholegrain: Follow recipe above, but replace half the plain flour with wholegrain flour.

1 comment:

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