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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Round 2: Fast Food Biscuits




The Squirt and I attempted another round of biscuit making last week. Disappointed but not discouraged by our lackluster first effort, we made use of one of the recipes my grandmother had sent via snail mail and went at it again.

And this time? Success! We're not considering the search for the perfect biscuit over by any means, but this one got some really good reviews from third parties. And I think I've identified at least a few crucial steps in getting that perfectly dense, buttery biscuit.

You should be forewarned that making biscuits is a DIRTY business. You might want to get your work boots on first.


Fast-Food Biscuits
From "Southern Biscuits" by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. Makes 12 2-inch biscuits.

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour, divided
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, divided
Softened butter for brushing


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk 2 1/4 cups of flour in a large bowl (preferably wider than it is deep) and set aside the remaining 1/4 cup.


The bowl is definitely one key to a great biscuit. I used one of my serving bowls since I didn't have any baking bowls that met the requirement of wider than deep. This is where one of those beautiful antique dough bowls would come in handy. I'm keeping my eyes open at antique stores now!!

Scatter 1/4 inch size pieces of butter over the flour...



and work in by rubbing fingers with the butter and flour together (kind of a snapping motion) until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese.

Next scatter the 1/2 inch size pieces of chilled fat over the flour mixture and continue snapping thumb and fingers together until no pieces larger than a pea remain.


Make a deep hollow (as deep as possible in a shallow bowl...this was confusing) in the center of the flour. Pour 1 1/2 cups buttermilk into the hollow, reserving 1/4 cup, and use broad cicrcular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the buttermilk. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add more buttermilk or flour as needed. (I think I should have added more flour here, but I was afraid of making dry, tasteless bricks.)

Lightly sprinkle a clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and sprinkle the top with flour. This pile of mush is my dough. It was scary sloppy looking.

With floured hands, fold the dough in half (next to impossible), and pat into a 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. (Impossible - you will need extra flour. But use as little as possible! Adding too much flour at this stage is definitely a rookie biscuit maker mistake.)



Fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, fold a third time. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick round.


Cut with a 2 inch floured biscuit cutter or whatever you have on hand. A juice glass worked just fine for us. Using a spatula if necessary (it was), move biscuits to a baking sheet.

Bake on the top rack for 10 minutes rotating halfway through. After removing from oven, brush tops with softened butter and scarf!!


I gave about half the batch away for outside opinions and my sweet neighbor Caroline (of Linen & Boxwoods fame) shared this review:

"Moist and buttery all on their own!! My recommendation - heated plain or with a bit of your favorite jelly. Perfecto! Ohhhh perfect for apple jelly this fall."

So there you have it. A recipe worth sharing. I'll be trying more recipes out to make sure we've got a good thing going, but for now we're happy with this recipe.
 
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