Sorry for disappearing. I’ve been busy with work, completing the T-Nation 10,000 kettlebell swing workout, getting to level 125 in Candy Crush Saga, and watching the first season of Orange is the New Black in less than a week… basically all really important things.
In between all my really important activities, I’ve been obsessively trying to bake the perfect biscuit. Criteria for perfect biscuits= tall, flaky, soft, fluffy, melt in your mouth buttery. But to my horror, my biscuits came out of the oven (time and time again, recipe after recipe) as dense hockey pucks.
Every biscuit recipe is basically the same: flour, fat, liquid… but the variations are endless!!! Sometimes Google is not my friend. I tried grating frozen butter (too messy), letting the flour sit in the freezer overnight (nada), letting the batter sit in the fridge for 10 minutes (nope). I was not going down without a fight (and without making 1,000 batches of biscuits).
Tips for the flour, fat, liquid:
1. Flour: Southern bakers swear by White Lily self rising flour. White Lily is made from a softer winter wheat thus softer biscuits. I live in the Midwest so I don’t have access to White Lily though you can purchase it online. Since I only eat white flour on cheat day, it also doesn’t make economical sense to buy self rising flour that will go bad before I can use it all.
2. Flour 2.0: Since I’m not using self rising flour, I am using baking powder. It should be FRESH and aluminum free. It should fizz when dropped into a glass of water.
3. Fat: Shortening helps with getting the biscuits to rise nice and tall but I try to avoid trans fats even on cheat day. Though I have no problem using lard, I just wouldn’t know what else to use it in, so I stick with good ole fashion unsalted butter.
4. Liquid: Buttermilk, regular milk, soured milk, etc. I did use buttermilk for a few of my experiments but then I ended up throwing away the unused portion. So I stuck with a mix of whole milk and heavy cream. Just make sure your dough remains tacky. If it comes together neatly in a ball that means you’ve overworked it.
Tips for tall biscuits:
1. Laminate the dough to bring it together instead of kneading. This is a technique I used for cronuts and it creates flaky butter layers that will puff up like magic!
2. You need a HOT oven. 450 degrees F on the second rack from the top. The height comes from steam produced by the butter and milk.
3. Clean cuts–whether you’re using a biscuit cutter, glass, or a knife. Straight up and down, no twisting and no sawing back and forth–this seals the edges leaving you with sad little pucks.
4. Crowd your biscuits. That way they rise up instead of spread out.
Tall Flaky Biscuits
adapted from allrecipes
2 c bleached all purpose flour (9 oz)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter (chilled in freezer and cut into tiny cubes)
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c heavy cream
(or 3/4 c whole milk or 3/4 c buttermilk)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and set your rack to the second row from the top. Place a piece of parchment paper or silicone baking mat onto a rimmed baking sheet. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the cold butter until you have pea sized pieces of butter. You can use a pastry cutter or two knives, but I like to run my hands under cold water, dry them and then pinch the cubes of butter with flour.
2. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk and heavy cream. Using a fork or silicon spatula, mix gently until the liquid is absorbed. The mixture will look shaggy and feel tacky, and the dough does not come together.
3. Turn the dough onto a flour work surface and pat into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds. Turn dough a half turn, gather any crumbs, and flatten back into a rectangle. Repeat twice more, folding and pressing dough a total of three times.
4. After the final turn, pat the dough out into a 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut into 6 biscuits. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet so they are almost touching. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve biscuits piping hot out of the even.