Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back to Baking: Buttermilk Biscuits

So the weather cooled down a bit today, and I was eager to use my oven again. I've been grilling outside and using my ice cream maker to make more frozen yogurt, but avoiding baking because the heat just gets unbearable. This recipe is from Rose Levy Berenbaum, and I used the more reliable weight measurements.

3 oz6 tbscold, unsalted butter
6.5 oz1 1/4 cupsBleached all-purpose flour
2.3 oz2/3 cupCake flour
.5 oz1 tbsBaking powder
1 tspSalt
1.3 oz3 tbsSugar
1.3 oz2 Large eggs, hard-cooked, yolks only
6.3 oz3/4 cupButtermilk or heavy cream (I used buttermilk)

You'll need a baking sheet plus a cushioned baking sheet OR 2 baking sheets, one on top of the other, lined with Silpat or parchment. You'll also need a baking stone (like a pizza stone) or a baking sheet.

Cut the butter and chill it. Place the oven rack at the middle level and put the stone or baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. If White Lily self-rising flour is sold in your area, you can use 10 oz OR 2 cups of that, and omit the flours, baking powder, and salt in the chart above. Add the butter, and use your fingertips to press it into the flour until you get pieces that resemble coarse meal. Press the egg yolk through a fine strainer into the flour mixture, and whisk to distribute them evenly. Stir in the buttermilk, just until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to come together. Knead it on a lightly floured counter, and roll it 3/4 inch thick.

Dip a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter into a dish of flour before each cut (helps it not stick) and cut through the dough, lifting without twisting for maximum rise. Knead any leftover dough scraps and roll them out, repeating the process until you've used them all up. Place them an inch apart.

Place your baking sheet(s) on the hot baking stone or baking sheet, raise the temperature to 400 degrees, and bake for 5 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake 10 to 15 minutes more or until golden (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should say 200 degrees). The recipe yielded 12 biscuits for me.

I have to confess I used my food processor to make the dough up to this point, instead of a pastry cutter or mushing anything by hand. It's just faster, and I whizzed the hard-boiled yolks in the food processor, too. Don't they look like lemon zest?

The recipe doesn't call for it, but I snipped in some chives from my herb box for half the biscuits. Why not?

For the other half, I mixed together a teaspoon of paprika with a dash of cayenne pepper, and kneaded some of that mixture into the dough, and use the remainder of the mixture to sprinkle on the tops.

It helps to cut your biscuits real close to each other, to minimize the necessity of re-rolling the dough.

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