Friday, May 29, 2009
Hands down, my favorite teacher was my Paternal Grandma. I have never had a better biscuit, than those that came from her hands. Her biscuits were magical. As a young girl, I was only interested in the transfer of the warm biscuit from her loving hands into my eager ones. As a young woman, I paid more attention and tried to duplicate her techniques. She did not measure everything precisely and she did not flour the counter and roll the dough and cut it. She did it all by feel. I was awed by how the dry ingredients were dumped into a mixing bowl and the wet ingredients were added after she made a dry well in the center. She would shape the dough into biscuits with her hands. She did this every morning and in no time at all, hot biscuits were on the table, with golden, beautiful crusts and no big mess to clean up either. I am sad to say I was not a very good student in biscuit making. I know that you can ruin the finished product if you handle the dough too much. I miss my Grandma and her biscuits. Who is your favorite teacher in the kitchen? I would love to know, along with what you learned.
As for biscuits today, I have a second favorite teacher and that is the crew over at America's Test Kitchen. They have perfected Drop Biscuits and I saw a demo yesterday, that made me sit up and take notes, and even happier this morning, when I duplicated it and served the light soft pillows with a golden brown exterior. Still not my Grandma's biscuit, but a very good, easy one to make and no messy kitchen.
Best Drop Biscuits
from the Episode: Holiday Ham and Biscuits America's Test Kitchen
If buttermilk isn't available, powdered buttermilk added according to package instructions or clabbered milk can be used instead. To make clabbered milk, mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let stand 10 minutes. A 1/4-cup (#16) portion scoop can be used to portion the batter. To refresh day-old biscuits, heat them in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Makes 12 Biscuits
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk (cold)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.
2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.
3. Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
When you stir slightly cooled melted butter into cold buttermilk, the butter will clump. Although this might look like a mistake, it's one of the secrets to this recipe. The clumps of butter are similar to the small bits of cold butter in biscuits prepared according to the traditional method and help guarantee a light and fluffy interior.
A greased 1/4-cup measure is a great tool for scooping dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.