Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

I love to make buttermilk biscuits, especially whenever my brother comes home from London.  As all of my friends outside of the States know, biscuits mean something completely different elsewhere.  Here, they are a bread often eaten for breakfast but also with other meals if you are in the South.  The ones above are layered biscuits which can be pulled apart for lots of layers with tons of butter and...
fruit butter.  This is a jar I cracked open this morning, Peach Vanilla Butter.  I used a modified version of this recipe from Food in Jars.  The Wonderkid prefers to eat Applebutter on his biscuits so we had two jars open this morning.

It was a yummy meal on a cold day.  I think everyone was quite pleased.  This recipe made it into the "big project" I'm working on.  I'll share it also.  This is a modified recipe from Martha Stewart Magazine.

Buttermilk Biscuits

4 cups King Arthur flour, plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into pieces
2 cups buttermilk (I use lowfat, no one will ever know the difference)
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups grated cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 500F.  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper.  Add butter; using a pastry blender or two knives, cut mixture in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add the buttermilk; stir just until mixture comes together; batter will be sticky.  Transfer to lightly floured work surface; use floured fingers to pat dough to 1 inch thickness.  Use a 2 inch round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter to cut biscuits as close together as possible to minimize scraps.
  3. Transfer to baking sheet; bake at 500 degrees for just 4 minutes then turn down over to bake at 375Ffor 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm.

OK – here are some modifications.  You can leave out the cheddar cheese and/or the cayenne pepper.  These are good biscuits any way you do them.  I normally make them as layered biscuits.  If you do that you would change it this way:

Once you have the batter and it is sticky,
  1. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll dough into an 8 x 11 rectangle.
  2. Fold the top and bottom thirds inward, overlapping at the center of the dough.
  3. Turn the dough a quarter turn; then repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove plastic wrap and roll out to ½ inch thickness.  Then cut with same biscuit cutter as step 2 above.  Continue with steps.

Notes about biscuits
  1. Don’t overwork the dough.  If you do that it will be tough.
  2. Chilling the dough creates the pockets that makes the biscuits flaky.
  3. You can use powdered buttermilk instead of fresh if you want.  It is much better with buttermilk than with regular milk.
  4. Use a sharp utensil to cut them and don’t twist it, they won’t rise well if you twist the cutting utensil.    

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