Saturday, October 23, 2010

Biscuits worth writing home about.

AKA Holy Sh*t Biscuits. Yeah, seriously. It's the first thought that popped into my head when I took a bite. Next thing was "I made these?!?!". The first thought has a better ring to it. Sue me.
So, lately I've been craving some American foods like chili, cornbread, barbeque, big chewy cookies, etc. Suddenly finding myself unable to just go anywhere and find these things makes me want them even more. (I'm pretty sure that the 5 of you that read this are friends or family. But if not, I moved to Scotland 5 months ago.) Not that I ever went out for chili, but you know what I mean. It doesn't help that we've been watching Food Network and that show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives has been on. Last night he went to Pine State Biscuits in Portland. They make some tasty biscuits, and I've never been quite happy with the ones I've been making. So, using that episode (I found it on youtube!) as a guide for the technique, and another recipe tweaked to be more like theirs, I DID IT. I cracked the biscuit code! Flaky but moist, nice crispy top and bottom, and the height?!? Skyscraper territory! They were almost 3 inches tall!

First things first, put your stick of butter in the freezer, you need it frozen solid. Wake up early and do it, or put it in the night before, whichever. Mine was frozen pretty solid in an hour or so.

Preheat oven to just below 400F.  (I went about 5-10 degrees under, that's what the guy in the video said, so that's what I did) This makes 10 huge biscuits. I used the 3 inch cutter, but you can use a glass, or just cut them in squares if you want. Obviously if you use a smaller cutter, you get more biscuits!

Combine dry ingredients:
4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp gluten powder (Seriously, I think it's the secret. If you don't have it, use 1/2 bread flour 1/2 plain flour. That's what the Pine State guys do, I read it in an interview.)
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine wet ingredients:
1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (I used greek)
1 egg
1 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk (I can't get that here, so I used a little low fat creme fraiche mixed with lowfat milk, and some citric acid to taste. I used citric acid because I don't like the taste that vinegar or lemon juice add, which is what the usual substitutes call for. It worked!)

1 stick of butter, from the freezer

a little melted butter

Grate your stick of butter into your bowl with the combined dry ingredients. Toss the flour around quickly with your fingers so the butter is mixed in, but basically just covered with the flour. Dump in your liquid ingredients. Stir it JUST enough so that you don't have any liquid puddles. You want some flour patches, and it will barely be holding itself together. Flour the counter well, and dump out your dough. It will be all sticky, but crumbly and floury. This is good, this means tender biscuits, because you are going to do the rest of the work by hand. So, take the dough and press it together lightly with floured hands into a rectangle (about 12" x 6") getting all the loose bits incorporated and dust the top with flour. Fold the rectangle over itself, it might seem a bit too wet, but just dust it with flour and fold. Press it out lightly, just big enough to make sure you can fold it. Repeat this process 4 times. You don't want to over handle the dough, it makes it tough, and makes the butter melt, which means less flaky goodness. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out to about 1" thick. At this point it should all be holding together, and you you should see little flakes from the flour and butter and folding. Cut out your biscuits. (I press my end scraps back together with a little more flour, but again don't over handle the dough. Those biscuits won't be as pretty but are still really tasty. If you smother it in gravy no one will notice a thing.)

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1/2" - 1" apart. (I'll tell you now, you can freeze these before they are baked, so you don't have to eat 5 biscuits for breakfast! Bake some off now, save the rest for later! You bake them straight from frozen, for 5-10mn longer depending on your oven. Mine only took 5 extra minutes and were EXACTLY the same as the first batch. Must stock freezer with biscuits now!)
Bake for about 12mn, brush the tops with butter, then bake for 2 more minutes.

Eat them now!
We had ours with gravy, but they were so tasty just plain... I'm sure they'd be perfect with yummy jam.

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