lamenting the loss of the remembered biscuit and finding the new one to laud ::::
When I first started cooking more seriously, I often haphazardly threw together drop biscuits in hopes that they would be similar to the scones I had as a child in England or like the biscuits I ate at the Flying Biscuit Café in Atlanta years ago. I was always disappointed. 1) Scones are different though similar, and 2) The Flying Biscuit Café biscuits are not the same these days, in the restaurant or my attempted at texture duplication, the past’s unparalleled. Those biscuits were the ultimate comfort food. Eat and I could sit outside, waiting for a table to get my favorite leafy green salad with warm rosemary potatoes, buy a biscuit in the next-door bakery line, and feel satiated sitting in the kitschy neighborhood the café graced.
It still stands there, that café. The kitschy neighborhood remains, a little more grubby, the homes with a little more cracked paint, the weeds wild in the yards. I can’t say that I extol the wonders of their food anymore, as they’ve expanded to other branches and diluted the talent. They have done away with the fresh green salad, and the wonderful biscuits transformed into soft, pucky imposters.
Taking things into my own hands is when I researched a good biscuit recipe and found Angela Davis, aka The Kitchenista. I found Angela’s blog about two years ago, lead to it by a link promising amazing fried chicken. While I have yet to explore that perfection, my repeat visits to her blog months later distracted me with a recipe for buttermilk biscuits. Angela does such a great job breaking down her reasoning for each ingredient and their assembly, I knew I could do no wrong with this recipe.
This knowledge is critical in making a good biscuit. I learned that this was critical before I read Angela’s post. The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to assemble everything all at once. You can stop and hold the biscuits before shaping and cutting for at least a couple days, per my experimentation. You can also make a huge batch, cut them all out, bake some, and freeze the rest unbaked. Pull out the frozen pucks the night before, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight, and bake fresh in the morning.
The flour is key. Though all-purpose flour works all around, the softness of White Lily flour or the mix of all-purpose flour and cake flour is unrivaled. I didn’t need Angela to tell me this to be convinced. Flours that are milled differently will have different consistencies and textures in finished goods. Be sure to pay attention to this in important recipes like ones relying on soft, baked texture for a satisfying bite. Make this recipe and you won’t have to lament the vanishing of biscuits of yore to find a good one.
NOTE: If you want to make drop biscuits instead, make a wetter dough with more of the buttermilk-cream-egg mixture. You’ll zip through the prep stage without the cutting, plop the dough on the lined pan, and eat a little sooner. Personally, I really like the layers and flakiness. Tenderness will prevail, no matter if dropped or layered. And Angela’s recipe altered to make drop biscuits is much better than the crappy non-Angela one I tried years ago.
Biscuit recipe from The Kitchenista Diaries. There is no other expert of biscuiteering.
Did I tell you to go to Angela’s blog? Gogogogogogogogogo!
One year ago: spice cake with orangey loveliness
- 3 cups white flour (SEE IMPORTANT NOTES BELOW)*
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons shortening (Angela recommends butter flavored. I use the plain.)
- 8 tablespoons European style salted butter, frozen (Ive used salted and unsalted and adjusted added salt)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
- Measure and mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add in shortening and mix by pinching into the flour mixture. The mixture should resemble sand.
- Grate the frozen butter into the mix. THIS IS KEY. Toss the butter bits into the flour occasionally as you grate to coat. Put the bowl into the fridge for a few minutes to chill.
- Mix the buttermilk, cream, and 1 egg.
- Pour about ⅔ of the wet mixture over the dry and mix gently to combine. See how the wet is soaking into the dry and add more wet if still crumbly. The flour you use (did you read my important notes?) will depend on how the wet ingredients soak up. The goal is for a shaggy dough.
- Transfer dough to a work space (a large baking sheet is great), knead a few times to put together, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in fridge for about 30 minutes. NOTE: I've left my well-wrapped biscuit dough for up to 2 days in the fridge -- still good.
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.
- Flour your hands and fold the dough over onto itself a few times, creating the layers in the finished biscuits.
- Press dough into 1-inch thickness. Flour a biscuit cutter and cut out each biscuit, without twisting the cutter. Cut straight down and up to create those lovely layers. Transfer to lined baking sheet. You can gather the scraps and reform for one more cut. They aren't as tender but still taste great. Even easier: cut biscuits into squares so there is less scrap waste or reforming.
- Whisk egg yolk with a bit of cream (or left over buttermilk mixture from earlier, if you have it) and brush each biscuit top.
- In your 500 degree preheated oven, bake the biscuits in the center rack for about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.
- Brush with melted butter and serve immediately. I like to split and slather with butter, a scrambled egg nestled between the halves.
- Angela also encourages adding herbs and cheeses for new flavors.
- If baking from frozen: Allow frozen biscuit to thaw overnight in fridge, then bake 15 minutes.