I am in love with carbs. There, I said it. Not that it was much of a secret. Bread, rolls, biscuits – I could easily make a meal out of any of them. I especially love using them as a vehicle to sop up remnants of other pieces of my meal. While I do try to make homemade bread rather frequently, I don’t tend to bake a lot of biscuits or rolls just to keep around – those are usually reserved for special occasions. However, I do look forward to enjoying biscuits if I happen to go out for breakfast on a weekend morning. I throw some scrambled eggs and either bacon or sausage on top and eat it like an open-faced sandwich. There’s just something magical about pulling apart that soft biscuit, watching the steam wisp out of the middle, and then savoring each buttery, flaky layer.
Biscuits are one of the simplest baked goods to make, in terms of both ingredients and time, but they have been known to cause even the most even-tempered bakers to pull their hair out. Light, fluffy biscuits and hockey pucks are separated by a very fine line. Below are some tips to help make sure you end up in fluffy biscuit land, and not on ice…
♦ Cold butter is key. For biscuits (as well as pie crusts) I find that cubing the butter and then putting it on a plate in the freezer for about 15 minutes before using it keeps it nice and cold while mixing.
♦ Mixing the butter and dry ingredients quickly so the butter remains cold and firm is crucial to producing light, tender biscuits. This is what the “coarse meal” mixture should look like:
♦ The dough will be soft and somewhat sticky; the wet dough creates steam when the biscuits bake and promotes the light airy texture. This is what the dough should look like when it comes together:
♦ Don’t overmix the dough, or the biscuits could become tough. Gently pat the dough into shape, using a light touch and very little pressure when handling it.
♦ The intense heat of the oven creates the steam needed to raise the dough and create airy, fluffy biscuits. Make sure your oven is completely preheated before baking the biscuits.
♦ Most important: Eat fresh from the oven while still warm! :)
Now, who’s ready to bake some light-as-air, buttery, flaky biscuits?!
Did I mention that these biscuits are the perfect base for building a fabulous strawberry shortcake?
One year ago: All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
¾ cup cold buttermilk
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Whisk together or process with six 1-second pulses.
3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips to quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. If using a food processor, remove the cover and distribute the butter evenly over the dry ingredients. Cover and process with twelve 1-second pulses.
4. If making by hand, stir in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula or fork until the mixture forms a soft, slightly sticky ball. If using a food processor, remove the cover and pour the buttermilk evenly over the dough. Process until the dough gathers into moist clumps, about eight 1-second pulses.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and quickly form into a rough ball. Be careful not to overmix. Pat the dough into a ¾-inch-thick circle. Cut out the dough rounds with a biscuit cutter. Push together the remaining pieces of dough, pat into a ¾-inch-thick, and cut out several more dough rounds. Discard the remaining scraps. Place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake until the biscuit tops are light brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.
* Note 1: If you don't have cake flour on hand, substitute an extra cup of all-purpose flour and increase the buttermilk by 2 tablespoons.
* Note 2: Once the unbaked biscuits are placed on the cookie sheet, the sheet can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.