Improvisational Biscuits

12 Sep

Ahh, biscuits.  The shining star of the southern breakfast table.  Everyone’s grandmother (Granny) made the BEST biscuits.  Southerners are known to have extended debates about where to get the softest, tastiest, fluffiest biscuits in town (Bojangles!  Biscuitville!  Flying Biscuit!).

With all the hype, there is a misconception that biscuits are too hard to make at home.  But, as Charles and I learned at a biscuit-making class recently, it’s really all about the method.  Once you get the method, you can make any number of biscuit varieties: sweet, savory, cobblers, minis, buttermilk, cheese…even chicken and dumplings (the dumplings being essentially a basic biscuit, rolled flat).

I call these improvisational biscuits because we didn’t follow the recipe to the T.  We improvised on the ingredients based on what we had in the house.  However, we did stay true to the biscuit making method we learned in class.

Below I’ve included the word-for-word recipe that we used, with our improvisations in parentheses.  If you have buttermilk – use it.  If not, feel free to try the greek yogurt/almond milk substitute that we used or the more common substitute – regular milk with lemon juice or vinegar.  Whether you use shortening or butter is a matter of preference.  And what you sprinkle on top is your own business.

Incidentally, even with all the improvising we did, our biscuits turned out wonderfully!  Crunchy, buttery top, soft and fluffy inside, and it held up perfectly when stacked with eggs, bacon and cheese!

Bottom line: they are your biscuits, so have fun with them, and don’t be afraid to experiment!  The more you make them, the more the method will become second nature and the better and better your biscuits will turn out.  Besides, by the time you’re a Granny or Grandad, your biscuits will be the BEST in town.

Basic (Improvisational) Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cups of self-rising flour (1 1/4 cups all purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt)
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (We left this extra 1/4 tsp out since we used salted butter)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp shortening (2 Tbsp cold, salted butter, cut into chunks)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (3 Tbsp greek yogurt mixed with enough almond milk to equal 2/3 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Salt and fresh-cracked pepper

Biscuit-Making Method

  1. Mix all your dry ingredients.
  2. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the fat into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed.  There should be no large chunks of the fat.  The mixture should resemble course crumbs.
  3. Next you’ll add your liquid, stirring just to combine.
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface.  Work the dough by folding toward you in half, turning a quarter turn, flattening slightly and repeating 3-4 times.  Use flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to you or the counter.  Make sure the dough can slide freely across the counter without sticking.
  5. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough to 3/4” thick, and cut out the biscuits by pushing a biscuit cutter straight down through the dough (do not twist).  Be as efficient as possible with your cuts, because the more you re-roll scraps, the tougher your biscuits will be.
  6. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on top (Or sugar!  Or nothing!).
  7. Bake at 475 for 12-15 minutes.

~Carla

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One Response to “Improvisational Biscuits”

  1. Kim Wike September 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I can’t wait to make these! Thanks for sharing what you learned in class!

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