Wednesday, December 15, 2010
These biscuits will want to make you poke that tubby white doughboy out of your kitchen for good! Making biscuits is easy-peasy and you'll know every ingredient in them (what are those hard white bits in the refrigerated biscuit dough, anyway?) And they're even better the next day--stick a chunk of Pineapple and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham in between them, or smother them in gravy and serve them alongside some Homestyle Hash Browns. Or just go simple with some cold butter and jam.
Get out a big bowl and fill it with flour. You could use self-rising flour, or, if you're like me with a small kitchen that's already full, use a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add baking soda as well. Both the baking powder and baking soda will help your biscuits rise.
Whisk your dry ingredients together well. If you like to sift, you could certainly sift them instead.
You just want to make sure you get all the lumps of baking powder out. Have you ever bitten into a lump of baking powder? That stuff will dry your mouth out, let me tell you.
Add both butter and shortening to your dry ingredients. The shortening will give you flaky biscuits, while the butter will give them a nice flavor.
Look! I found my pastry blender! No idea where it was, but I'm just glad to have it back.
If you don't have a pastry blender (also called a pastry cutter or dough cutter), use forks, knives, or your fingers. The whole point is to cut the fats into little pieces and coat them with flour. The little pieces of fat will melt during baking, creating the flaky layers we all enjoy.
When your flour and butter are melded together, it's time to bind them with a liquid. I used plain milk, but you could use buttermilk if you had any on hand.
Gently stir the milk into the flour. You don't want to mix too much--that results in a tough biscuit. You just want the milk to moisten the flour.
Now turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently fold the dough over onto itself about a half-dozen times--another effort to getting nice, flaky layers in your biscuit.
Gently pat the dough into a circle or oval, about 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter (or a glass, or a cookie cutter, or a tin can with both ends removed), cut straight down into the dough.
Here's where you'll be tempted to twist the cutter. Fight temptation. Twisting the cutter while cutting your dough will keep your biscuits from rising to their full potential. Just cut straight down, and then pull the cutter straight up.
Now your biscuits go on a lightly greased cookie sheet. I like to place my biscuits so they're just barely touching. That way, when they bake, the touching parts stay soft and fluffy. If you like crisper biscuits, space them farther apart.
I like to brush my biscuits with something before they go in the oven. Doing this keeps the biscuit tops a bit softer as well. You could use milk or buttermilk, half-and-half or cream, or melted butter. I used half-and-half, and then I sprinkled my biscuit tops with some salt.
Hot out the oven biscuits go with any meal. I spread mine with butter and raspberry-blueberry jam from Guldan Family Farm, but they'd be perfect with the foods you like best. Turkey, ham, gravy, eggs, sausage, or butter and jam--whatever you choose, these biscuits will hold their own.
Recipe: Flaky Biscuits
2 c. self-rising flour (or 2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 4 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. butter, chilled
2 tbsp. shortening, chilled
1 c. milk
Preheat oven to 450F.
Whisk flour with baking soda (or flour, baking powder, and salt if not using self-rising flour) until well mixed, to avoid lumps.
Add butter and shortening; cut fat into flour until the pieces are small and pea-sized.
Add milk; gently stir until dough is moist.
Turn dough onto floured baking surface; gently knead dough half a dozen times. Gently shape into a 1-inch-thick round.
Use a floured biscuit cutter to cut shapes out of the dough (do not twist cutter!)
Place biscuits close together on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Brush with cream, half-and-half, or melted butter, and sprinkle with salt if desired.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.