Let's talk about biscuits!
I'm a cook, not a baker. But recently, I've begun to take on baking "experiments", and have enjoyed the results. It was the no-knead bread that made me a convert, and now I'm wanting to take on biscuits.
Every thanksgiving, I make my grandmother's "'angel" biscuits- yeast based, and folded so they look like angel wings, which taste great, but aren't what I'm looking for. What I want to make is some big ol' fluffy southern style biscuits.
Anyone have great recipes or tips? I vaguely recall something about making a volcano shaped mound of the drys and putting the liquids in the center and mixing with a fork, but alas, I never got the details on those before my Alabama grandmother passed.
Help me make some great from-scratch biscuits this weekend!
LOL, you will get so many responses to this one!
First, let me tell you a story. My ex-MiL and her sisters were putting together their mother's recipe for whole wheat biscuits, that are really only about 50% whole wheat. They always made them without measuring, yet they always turned out the same, and always were alike, but, when they started measuring, for the recipe book, every one was different, and when they tested each other's measurements, the results were vastly different!
Okay, I'll tell you, the best advice I ever saw fro making biscuits, is to follow the recipe. Buttermilk YES...after that, the amount of shortening/lard/butter/oil(shudder) are slightly different. You want to find a recipe, or use one that someone will post, try it, and if you don't like the results, ask, or try to figure out why they ended up that way. It took me a lot of tries to find out that it wasn't necessarily the recipe, but the method I was using. I think I just read a post on another BB about a light hand makes light biscuits, or something like that.
I prefer a combo of lard and butter, and a little sugar in the dough, and cutting the fats into the flour mixture in 2 lots: the first, to make a very fine meal, and the second, a coarser meal.
I look forward to reading the input of others on this topic
I make scones when biscuits like this are required-the first thing I ever learned to make-I must have been about 7. I am sorry it is not exact, this is a recipe that is really in my hands...I was always taught a tspn of baking powder per cup of flour.
3 c flour
almost a whole stick of butter
1/4 tspn salt
1 T sugar
mix together with your hands until it looks like corn meal.
Add: milk/cream/buttermilk until it is gloppy, I like cream the best. Bake at 375 until brown, eat while hot. It looks more "southern" if you roll them and cut them. If you do that add less milk.
If you add buttermilk use baking soda in addition to the baking powder. (I always check a recipe for the amount, but it is I think 1/2 tspn for a cup of buttermilk.
Here's a recipe that I made up the other day. My family loves them.
3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp table salt
4 Tbs butter - cut into small cubes.
2 Tbs cooking oil
1 egg, whipped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup milk
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 375-F.
In a stand mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add butter and cooking oil.
Mix until mixture looks like cornmeal.
Mix orange juice, orange zest, milk and whipped egg together.
Add orange juice/milk/egg mixture to flour and mix until a ball of dough forms.
You may have to scrape side of bowl with rubber spatula and continue mixing
to form dough ball. Add more flour or milk as needed to form non-sticky dough.
Add raisins and mix for another 10 or 15 seconds.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times.
Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness.
Cut out biscuit rounds with 2 pr 3 inch diameter biscuit cutter.
Place on baking sheet with biscuits just touching edge to edge.
Bake 20-25 minutes until biscuit edges are slighly golden brown and
centers are not doughy.
Makes about 12 biscuits-scones.
Split open and serve with butter.
Using a low gluten flour makes a big difference. It's very hard to find in most of the US, but I know some good southern cooks who swear by White lLly and won't bother to makes biscuits with anything else. The Southern Living cookbooks have several types of recipes, angel biscuits, cream biscuits, baking powder biscuits, and buttermilk biscuits. Maybe try a few of those recipes and see which type is closest to what you are looking for and then start tweaking your technique.
You can find a biscuit recipe on the back of a bag of White Lily Flour, milled in Knoxville Tenn. White Lily flour is "made from pure soft winter wheat" according to the package, and I believe is now carried in stores not in the South. Soft wheat should give you soft biscuits and the White Lily recipe should be Southern enough!
The previous poster is right about using a light hand. Don't knead biscuits as you would bread. Also, older recipes called for sifting the flour before measuring, and even though most newer recipes don't call for that, it is probably a good idea. (I'm probably going to get called out on that, but I do think sifting lightens up the finished product. If you don't sift, shake the flour up in its storage cannister before measuring, if you can.)
Make enough biscuits for dinner, and enough for dessert with jam or honey.
I've been on a quest for good biscuits, too. I find that shortening makes a flakier product than butter. So far, the best I've made is revsharkie's at the bottom of this thread (long thread but a lot of good info):
People loved them and all 30+ I made (doubled the recipe) disappeared quickly. I thought they were good but I still haven't mastered the technique (I need a grandmother who's grown up making them her whole life to walk me through it) and I think they could have been better. But, that's user error. I figured if they turned out as well as they did when I made them (over kneaded, I'd say--can't resist giving a few extra kneads to be on the safe side), the recipe must be great.
Why thank you, she said, ducking her head humbly.
No, don't knead them much if any. I pretty much just gather the dough into a ball, make sure it's reasonably smooth and even on the outside, then pat it out to the right thickness.
My husband just told me he had a dream where we were visiting some people--probably one of his customers--and we got to talking about biscuits, and I just went into the kitchen and made a batch.