Thursday, June 17

How To Make Fabulous Biscuits

For Southerners, making mean biscuits is a source of great pride. It's not hard but it's very nearly an art. The tradition of making something so comforting out of so little runs deep in my blood. It's a task where I notice my hands and wonder how they will look as I make such foods with grandbabies running around my kitchen.
But, as usual, I digress. The following tutorial contains all I've learned in my many years of biscuit-making. May exploding Pillsbury cans and Bisquick never reside in your shopping cart again...

Biscuits
makes 10-12, depending on circumference of cutter
2 c plain flour, preferably unbleached, plus enough for kneading/cutting
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
6 T softened butter or lard
1 c milk, warmed

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚. (If you'd rather not heat up your whole kitchen, these bake well in a toaster oven if you reduce the heat to 425˚. You may have to bake in two batches.)
  2. Warm milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat. (Remove it from the heat when you see a bit of steam rising, well before boiling.)
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter into the dry mixture until it's in small crumbles. 
  5. Add milk and mix well, erring on the side of under-mixing. The dough should seem a bit sticky.
  6. Turn out onto a floured surface. (Tip: I use a large rectangular stone, kneading/cutting at one end and baking the biscuits at the other end. Makes for one less thing to wash.) 
  7. With floured hands, turn the dough over until all sides have gathered a bit more flour. If it's really sticky, the milk was too hot so just add a small handfuls of flour until the dough doesn't cling to your touch.
  8. Gently pat the dough into a circle. Don't worry if you see bits of flour or butter. The kneading will take care of that.
  9. Pick up the top of the circle at the 12 o'clock position and fold it down to the six o'clock position. Gently pat out to a circle again. 
  10. Knead three more times, folding in each direction...three o'clock to nine, six to twelve and nine to six. Use a very light touch; this is what makes all those flaky layers!
  11. Pat dough out one more time into a circle about 3/4" thick. Using a floured biscuit cutter or over-turned glass, cut from the outer edges to the center, never twisting as you cut. 
  12. Nestle the little beauties up against one another on the pan.
  13. The scraps from the first cuttings can be very gently rejoined to make more biscuits or bake as is as 'baker's treat'. :)
  14. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  15. Serve immediately.
  16. Leftovers may be stored overnight in an airtight container. 
I've learned a lot in my many years of making biscuits. First, practice makes perfect. This is never more true than with the lightness of your touch. It needs more TLC than yeast doughs. Patience and time will yield tall, beautiful biscuits with endless layers to welcome your butter, jams and sorghum! 

4 comments:

  1. I'm going to try it! This coming from a girl who had no idea (just a few short years ago) that there was a difference in regular flour and self-rising.

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  2. Wish I hadn't read that three hours before lunch. Now I'm hungry.

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  3. I've never made them from scratch. I may have to try that now. Thanks!

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  4. you go, girls!! biscuits are like chocolate - they can make a bad day turn out okay. :)

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