10 December 2006

weekend baking: biscuits

Well! We've had our second weekend of baking in a row, and it was supremely tasty! I must preface the rest of this post by saying that there were TWO rounds of biscuits. So don't stop reading or ogling prematurely.

Saturday's biscuits were not satisfactory to the cook: they tasted great, but they were wretched to work with. The dough (I'm told) was very sticky and completely impossible to roll and then form rounds with biscuit cutters. They were also not particularly flaky, so if you like your biscuits to flake apart ... well, these are not for you. These are English muffin biscuits; you can only open them with the careful application of a fork. They were, however, tasty.

Now, you might think we would stop there. I mean, who makes biscuits twice in one weekend? That would be us.

Ahem. I have been instructed to inform you that I had nothing to do with the biscuits until I ate them. Steve made biscuits twice in one weekend.

He was much happier with the second recipe, which was easier to work with and provided satisfyingly round, regular biscuits.

Tender, flaky biscuits. Perhaps a little too much salt/baking soda/baking powder. Steve claims there was a weird bitter aftertaste. I couldn't taste it, myself, but I also happen to love brussel sprouts, so maybe my bitter tastebuds are no longer functional. We might try again with a different ratio of salt/baking soda/baking powder, but that can cause funny things to happen in baking.

via Tyler Florence / Food Network

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus additional for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add 1 cup buttermilk. Using your hands, quickly fold the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms. You may need to add more buttermilk.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Press the dough out to 1 1/2-inches thick and cut with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter. Lay the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

And, yes, I eat my biscuits topped with unsalted butter, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Even when they come out of a vacuum sealed can. These did not come from such a can, and so this is the only picture of the biscuits, ready-to-eat, according to Jen protocols: