When the world is on fire you make biscuits.
Has it really been two years since I posted here? Wow. I guess a global pandemic, an attack on the US Capital, a contested election, a racial reckoning, the loss of my beloved step father, the loss of so many American lives to disease, violence, terrorism and war, has had me a little distracted huh? What’s sad is this list is incomplete.
When I got the notice from Go Daddy to renew my domain I seriously thought about letting it go, but my wiser self decided to pay the $18 and give myself the year to think about it. It’s not that I think anyone is dying to read what I write but someday I’ll be gone and this blog was started as a gift to my grandchildren. It’s for and because of them, that I sit here on this unseasonably warm Sunday September morning trying to decide what to share with you, and what you’re going to get is biscuits. Yes, biscuits. See here’s the thing. In the last eighteen months, I didn’t learn a new language, build a new deck, take up a keto diet, redecorate my entire house or any of the other ridiculously productive things other people did in quarantine. What I did do is learn to bake a really good biscuit. There was a lot of trial and error involved. There was research. There was eating of the victories and failures because let’s be realistic, with a enough butter and jam even a less than perfect biscuit is edible and I grew up in a “waste not want not” home. As I got better at it, I posted some pictures on Facebook and every time the comments said “Share your recipe!” “They look delicious.” “I want some!” “You know those are full of carbs and will go straight to your ass right?” Ok, that last one was my own but you get the point. I’ve been a life long baker but until I took this on as project, I hadn’t had much success making a biscuit that didn’t resemble by look or texture a hockey puck or a very unappealing looking dog treat. With much practice I can say I make a pretty damn good biscuit these days. Here’s how I make them. You don’t have to make them yourself. No pressure. Do what you want. I am sharing because I’m proud of these babies and these days, with so much sadness, divisiveness, and fear everywhere it’s nice to have this little thing that makes me feel good about myself.
Preheat oven to 400. Put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Put a big piece of parchment on the counter.
Wash your hands. (Hey, I assume nothing)
- 2 1/2 C flour
- 1 TBS baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C (one stick) very cold or frozen butter (If you use salted butter, decrease the salt to 1/4 tsp)
- 1 C milk or buttermilk
- cream to brush on tops
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Here’s where it gets really fun. Use a box grater and grate the butter in to the dry ingredients. Work quick so it doesn’t get soft. I use a frozen stick of butter for this. Once you’ve shredded up all the butter, stir it in with the fork . It resembles little “pebbles” in your dry ingredients.
Add your milk and stir with the fork. It is still kind of sticky but dump that whole mess on the parchment paper.
Start shaping your dough in to a rectangle like about the size of an 8×10 picture frame. If it’s too sticky to handle sprinkle a little flour on it but not too much. If you use too much flour, the biscuits will be dry. Once you make your rectangle, fold it in half, and then half again. This is called laminating. This is what gives you layers. Don’t handle the dough any more than necessary. You don’t want to melt the butter.
Do this folding over thing three times. Then gently shape into either a rectangle or circle depending on what shape you want your biscuits. When we make sausage gravy I cut them in to 9 squares. Today we were making sausage patties so I cut 8 circles with a biscuit cutter. When doing a round biscuit, cut as many as you can then take the scraps, reform them and cut more until all your dough is used up. It’s normal to have a rough looking last biscuit. She may not be much to look at but she’s got a great personality.
Biscuits like to be near each other so place them fairly close on your pan. I use a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t regularly use parchment paper go to the store and buy it now. Buy two. It will be life changing. Brush the tops with melted butter or cream. I use half and half because that’s what I usually have on hand.
Bake 13 to 16 minutes. Do not be tempted to open the oven and check on them. They need all that good hot heat to stay in the oven. At 13 minutes you can start checking on them. Take them out when the tops and the bottoms are brown and beautiful.
Can we take a minute to admire how lovely these are? (final Jeopardy song plays)
Cook up some sausage, fry an egg and put this bad boy together. This is the point where I handed one to my husband who said “I don’t think I can fit that in my mouth” to which I said “That’s what she said.” and it devolved from there. We’re dumb, but breakfast was delicious this morning!
Note: You can make a sweet version of these by increasing the sugar to 2 TBS and sprinkle the tops with sugar after brushing with cream. Macerate some strawberries and grab some whip cream and you have a killer strawberry shortcake.
I’ll try not to take two years to post again.
Cinnamon rolls I am coming for you….