Saturday, April 4, 2009

Any excuse to make biscuits

Here in the South biscuits are like sweet tea, they're everywhere. Not that that's a bad thing. I adore a good biscuit. There's nothing better than a hot from the oven, flaky, buttery biscuit. Slather it with some jam or top with fresh ham, either way I could eat my weight in them. Now that's a bad thing, so I don't make them very often. I usually wait to make them until I have a good excuse. Yesterday, I got the perfect biscuit making excuse. My neighbor just came home from the hospital after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl and I had offered to bring by dinner. A celebratory batch of biscuits was definitely called for! I can't help it that there just happened to be a few leftover for me and Hubs.

I like Dori Greenspan's recipe for basic biscuits. It's a quick simple recipe that can be thrown together in a couple of minutes. It's a very versatile recipe. Feel free to throw in some chopped chives, or top with grated Parmesan cheese or whatever you had on hand.

These biscuits are fairly simple to make, but you do need to use a light hand in mixing them so you don't lose the flaky texture.

Basic Biscuits

Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: 6 3-1/2 inch diameter biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cps all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)~I used King Arthur Bread flour~
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. I used a 3.5 inch metal drinking glass, which is supposedly a big no-no in biscuit baking, but I had no problems.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces the size of everything in between, and that’s just right.

Pour the milk over the dry ingredients, grab a fork and toss and gently turn the ingredients until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading-3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even-a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2 inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting-just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.


Eliana said...

What a great way to celebrate - with lovely biscuits. These look yummy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, these biscuits look perfect - delicious!

Elyse said...

I love a simple yet delicious biscuit recipe! That's one of the things I miss most about Atlanta: the readily available biscuits. So good!! Of course, just because I moved to CA doesn't mean I can't make my own: and your recipe looks like a great place for me to start!! Oh, and your post title alone had me nodding in agreement!

Grace said...

any occasion to make (and eat) biscuits is welcome, that's for sure. lovely gesture, and great bread!

Kelly said...

I'm from the South where biscuits are one of the four good groups. As someone who has had just about every kind of biscuit there is, May I just sayd your buscuits look fantastic!

♥Rosie♥ said...

Your biscuits look wonderful here we call them scones... I adore nothing more than a Devonshire cream tea.

J.Danger said...

no joke that is a running statement in our house- "any excuse to make biscuits". My husband grew up in the South, so he loves it when I bring anything southern to him!

Elle said...

Lucky new mom! Those look really yummy.It's been a while since I made biscuits, but maybe for Easter...