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Biscuits

I have never been satisfied with any biscuit recipe I have ever used. Don't have an old family recipe that I am bound to.
I'd love a classic old recipe. No new fangled sour cream, cream cheese sorta thing. Only problem now is that I've got a broken ankle and I'll have to send out for buttermilk and lard if I need those but my friends are being really sweet about fetching groceries. I have the basics and would prefer a recipe that I can do by hand. I wouldn't curl up and die if the food processor were involved but that just doesn't seem quite right.
Straight up perfect biscuits. Extra points if they work in tiny cocktail size as well for ham biscuits.
Thanks.

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    1. Search around online for Touch of Grace Biscuits by Shirley Corriher. They're amazingly light and tender.

      If I'm in the mood for biscuits in a hurry, I'll do Cooks Illustrated's cream biscuits. Mix together 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of heavy cream until the gough comes together, then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds until it's smooth. Yes, knead the biscuits. These ones benefit from being roughed up a bit. Roll the dough out 3/4 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter, or press into a 9 inch cake pan, turn out, and cut into 8 wedges. Bake on a parchment lined sheet at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

      1. One good tip - and I got this from Shirley Corriher's own mouth - is to start with self-rising flour. I try to have something like White Lily on hand, because it's such soft wheat that even my heavy hands can turn out tender biscuits, but she told us that ALL self-rising flour is made with softer wheat than all-purpose flour is.

        The thing about the Touch of Grace biscuits is that, first, the dough is as wet as you can get it and still handle it - practically drop-biscuit wet - and, second, instead of being spaced out on a sheet they're packed into a pan, so that they're forced to rise instead of spreading out. I wound up making two separate batches of 2" biscuits last holiday season, and served them at two parties as pork tenderloin sandwiches, with great success. Ham and/or tenderloin would work, too (yes, I spent a LONG time in the South!).

        3 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          Will, what kind of shortening do you use? Crisco or lard?
          Of course, now I'll have to go on another great White Lily chase up here in Yankee Land...

          1. re: MakingSense

            I'm not Will, but I make Shirley's Touch of Grace biscuits. I use either unsalted butter or the new shortening made by Spectrum, which is palm oil, I believe. The shortening is NOT traditional, but I like the flavor much better than Crisco now that they've changed their formula. Good, natural lard would of course be ideal, but we don't eat pork in this house, so that's out. (Someone's allergic.)

            I believe it's Cook's Illustrated has a good buttermilk biscuit recipe, too, but I haven't made it in months. I melt butter and dip the biscuits on both sides before placing them on the baking sheet or in the pan, if they're to be soft-sided. My mom always did that extra step, and it makes a difference. Be sure to use a sharp cutter, and not twist it, so the sides don't seal and prevent maximum rise.

            1. re: amyzan

              I'm using a combination of lard (I can get the good stuff at Latino markets here) and Earth Balance NTF margarine - butter when I'm feeling mad and reckless!

              What I was saying is that while White Lily is the ideal (and Martha White about as good), ANY self-rising flour is made from softer wheat than the same label's all-purpose flour. I've been using Gold Medal SR flour, and the biscuits are coming out very well, thank you.

        2. I'm a Southerner with a reputation for being a great biscuit maker. And I just made the best biscuits ever: Gourmet cookbook, of all things (evil Yankee-dom). I used King Arthur all purpose flour (I live in California - no White Lily), and substituted half lard for the butter. Otherwise, I followed the recipe faithfully. No food processor required, and they could be as small as you want them to be. They were fabulous - very flaky and tender. Try them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: vickib

            young lady there are flakey because lard and california milk works wonders.
            with all this sunshine and clean air.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. A standard biscuit recipe is
              2 C flour
              1/2 teaspoon salt
              1 Tablespoon baking powder
              4 Tablespoons fat (butter, shortening, lard, margarine, your choice)
              3/4 - 7/8 C milk

              You can use soy or rice milk for the milk, and if you want something like a buttermilk biscuit, add a teaspoon or two of mild vinegar to the soy milk (rice vinegar works well, I find cider vinegar and regular white vinegar a bit too sharp, but if that's what you have on hand, it'll work).

              Within fairly narrow limits, you can adjust the amounts of any of the ingredients. I use a little less than a tablespoon of baking powder because I find a full tablespoon gives a soapy aftertaste and leaves brown spots on the biscuits. And I use a rounded half teaspoon of salt, because a level half teaspoon is a bit bland to my taste. The amount of milk you use depends on the kind of flour and how thoroughly you mix in the fat. A soft flour such as White Lilly needs less milk than a stronger flour such as King Arthur; the more thoroughly you incorporate the fat into the flour, the less milk you'll need.

              1. re: JepJonson

                I've found through extensive vegan biscuit making (not by choice...I'm a dairy lover all the way) that rice milk + a splash of vinegar works great. Soy milk occasionally got sort of gritty on me. That may have been the particular brand I was using, or some other variable that I wasn't aware of, but I never had problems with the rice milk.

                1. re: wawajb

                  What does milk contribute to biscuits? Why not just use water? I doubt if it will make any difference in texture. There might be a slight flavor difference. Rice milk for example adds a bit of sweetness. Obviously something like vinegar would be needed if replacing buttermilk.

                  By the way, many individuals who are lactose intolerant, don't have problems with the small amount of milk in most baked goods. That's quite different from drinking milk by the glass. Of course a lactose intolerant person may not have milk the fridge. For the occasional item that needs milk, such as a white sauce, I keep a can of powdered whole milk on the shelf. I also have dried buttermilk for use in pancakes.

                  paulj

                  1. re: paulj

                    Milk makes baked goods more tender...esp yeast breads. But DMS & water is a perfectly fine substitution in most recipes.

                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                      I'm not quite sure what tender means in the context of yeast breads. If I made the non-kneed bread (the one baked in a dutch oven), with milk instead of water, what would be different?

                      paulj

                      1. re: paulj

                        It would have a softer crust and slightly denser, softer crumb. Milk is a key component in a soft, white sandwich loaf.

              2. I'm lactose intolerant too, but I don't have a problem with buttermilk, which is what I use for biscuits anyway. Or you could simply use any of the widely-available lactose-free brands of milk.