Sunday, July 16, 2006

Biscuits are GOOD for you!

Okay. Here are k's buttermilk biscuit recipes. Dissertations follow.

*Several Biscuits*

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Sift together:

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 t soda
1 t sugar
1 t salt
2 t baking powder

Cut in:

5 T butter - or, 1/4 c lard

Mix in, lightly:

1 1/4 c buttermilk

Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Cook 10-12 minutes, till only lightly browned.

*Millions of Biscuits*

8 c flour
2 t soda
1 T sugar
1 T salt
1/4 c baking powder
3 sticks butter

Use 2 parts mix to 1 part buttermilk. One biscuit is around 1/3 to 1/2 c mix. So, use 1/2 c mix, and 1/4 c buttermilk, for one largish biscuit.

c means cup
t means teaspoon
T means tablespoon

Flour is highly sifted these days, but it does make a better biscuit to sift all the dry ingredients together. No, I won't hold a gun to your head! It's YOUR food. If you don't sift, use a fork - not a spoon - to mix the dry ingredients together.

Cutting in the shortening (fat) can be with a pastry cutter if you have one; with a pair of knives; or, just rub it into the flour with your fingers. The finger method is actually quite good. It's best to cut in half the shortening first, to the size of peas; then put in the rest and cut some more. You'll see some graininess and some larger bits when you're done. It doesn't take long and it's not hard work. Don't be scared.

You don't have to grease your *baking sheet* but I find it helps. I use spray oil on aluminum foil instead of a baking sheet. Lazy. For more than one or two biscuits, you need a sturdier base - so I put the foil on the baking sheet. Easier cleanup.

I love to cook. This is a very good thing, for lots of reasons.

One? I'm allergic to all foods, more or less. To deal with universal food allergy is complicated. My food allergies change all the time; I desensitize and resensitize, and I'm allergic to different things in different degrees - which also changes. I try not to eat the same thing two days running (*rotate*). I try to reduce the number of ingredients in any given dish, a sort of minimalism. That reduces the total number of food allergens I'm exposed to.

Mostly, we listen to our own body's reactions to know what's worst lately and avoid that altogether. And - the only way to really know what's in any dish is if you cook it yourself, from scratch.

Other reasons? It's worth the income of a part-time job to do your own cooking. It's worth another part-time job to shop wisely. And I'm on Social Security here, folks. Can't work, and get a joke of an income. So the money matters like you would not believe.

Because I use better ingredients, and don't eat the prepared chemically foods, it's far healthier. Good for the chronically ill. And the domestic satisfaction and stress reduction it provides are beyond price. Boy, your house smells GOOD!

It takes LESS time to cook than to drive around getting so-called *fast food* - not to mention the time of additional work hours needed to pay far higher prices for lower quality food. And, not to mention the stress of driving in traffic and waiting in line. Yuck.

Last but not least? If you can't cook you are NOT independent. You are voluntarily giving up control of a significant part of your life, for the financial benefit of the sellers of prepackaged food. Me, I like to be in charge of my own self.

Lecture over! Fun begins!

Good ol' American biscuits are a great treat. IMO. Sometimes people from Somewhere Else don't get the attraction of biscuits. To each their own, and all.

They have lots of fat in them, so suck it up. If you stop eating the unsatisfying fat of fast or prepackaged food, and eat nice natural homemade biscuits, you're eating LESS fat. Real for real.

The *Million Biscuits* version above is because I make my own *mix,* a big batch of all the ingredients except the liquid. Then, I can mix up only one or two biscuits at a time when I want to eat one.

For some foods, refrigerating this way doesn't work. For biscuits though, it actually improves them. It has to do with the way the shortening layers with the flour, and resting time. But you don't need all the technical details. Just believe everything I say and you'll be fine.

Like any happy cook, I adjust recipes over time. It's almost always a work in progress. So I'll include my most recent *notes to self* on changes. It's been a long time since I made a small batch, and I may have wanted to use a bit less salt in it, but that's a very fine-tuning thing.

Whether you want your biscuits *dropped* or *rolled* is up to you. I put down my own preference, which is dropped, because I'm way lazy. This means you just mix the buttermilk in, scoop a spoon of batter out, and drop it on the sheet. No rolling pin, no cutting with a cutter or a water glass, or making patties with your hands. If you want rolled biscuits, use less liquid.

I love buttermilk and it's also very good for you. I splurge a bit on the buttermilk - I use Marburger gourmet buttermilk, and it's NOT low-fat. If you want to use sweet milk, you'll need an adjustment in soda for best results. Let me know and I'll look it up.

For the shortening, I use butter. For a flakier biscuit, use lard or Crisco - one of the hard white shortenings. Personal taste. Now: If you insist upon ruining a perfectly good batch of biscuits by using margarine or some effing *spread* or bs so-called *healthier* (NOT!) other fat substitute, please do NOT distress me by telling me so. Further, do NOT blame me for the sorry results of your otherwise very commendable efforts.


Generally, if you're not satisfied with the results, the usual culprit is the baking powder. It doesn't stay fresh for long. So if it's been in your cupboard a while, please, buy some new. If you're broke, there's a way to test it for freshness before you buy a new can - again, let me know.

Once you put in the buttermilk, don't overmix the batter. That develops the gluten in the flour - the very reason that yeast breads are kneaded. Biscuits call for the opposite. The less you mix the flour, the more tender your biscuit will be.

That's another reason why refrigerating the mix actually improves the biscuit. It *rests* the gluten.

Now then! Mix, cook, eat, and be happy! Slather those piping hot suckers with whipped butter and honey or jam or just whatever you want. I hope at least ONE of you Biscuit Recipe Hollerers actually MAKES them, now, and lets me know how it goes. Any questions, feel free to ask. I mean that, too.


Jean said...

Great post!, when my kitchen is put back together, I will definitely follow your advice.

Granny J said...

Don't forget that the very best strawberry (or anyother kind of) shortcake is far better on biscuits than on any of those sweet fluffy things that the stores promote! Just be sure you also have whipped cream to finish it all off!

k said...

8-0 !!! jean, what happened to your kitchen? Is it usable at least? Mine's a bit of a shambles, but at least it's finally functional.

Hi granny j! Welcome! I can see you're a woman who knows her biscuits!

And I always make my own whipped cream, too. With some powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla in it. Heavy whipping cream. YUM!

Nancy said...


My great-grandma had a bowl she always used to make her biscuits.

She never measured. Anything. I think she just knew when something came up to a certain level in her was the right amount.

Once, a grand daughter in law offered her a measuring cup. She just looked at the cup and said,"No thanks, I'm not thirsty just now."

I mean...what else would you be using a cup for?

k said...

rotflol!!! not thirsty! Oh, I would have loved to be there for that one.

People who get good at that are able to measure with their mind's eye. I do that with some recipes too, especially soups and stews and guac. and...hmm. Lots of things actually. I guess I use the cups and spoons mostly for baking.

When I bake my bread and sin rolls, I measure everything except the flour. But I store the flour in 2- liter containers and I know that's just about right for each recipe.

Then, as I do the final mixing and kneading, I can tell by the feel of the dough if there's enough flour. And I keep the flour content as low as possible, to get a more delicate and tender bread.

Kenway said...

Aawww k, now ya went and done it! I do love the cim.. cino..cini..well hell, you know what I mean. I can't spell it, but I can sure eat um, the rolls that is. My neighbor, a winter visitor is gone now, and she makes me rolls when I do small jobs for her. Sure be glad when she gets back in the fall! Yea, I know, I could make them myself! Ken

Catfish said...

I make CatHead biscuits about the same way.

k said...

oh, Ken, if you could be anywhere NEAR my *Sin Rolls*...! There's lots of stuff I can't cook like I wish I could. But those Sin Rolls are like nothing else. I take them around to neighbors just before a hurricane comes. Hurricane Baked Goods.

hey Catfish! Now I'm dyin' to know: What is a CatHead biscuit? Tell, tell!

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