Growing up, I was always my dad’s sous chef in the kitchen. From peeling carrots to whisking sauces, I was very eager to help and learn. As a professional chef, he could cook anything. But cooking and baking are two different things, and he was opposed to the latter. So any baked goods in our house were from a bag, box or can.
I truly loved canned biscuits, and I was always in charge of making them – but boy was I terrified of the pop of the can while unwrapping it. But I no longer make biscuits in fear, as I expanded my culinary skills into the baking world, so exploding cans are a thing of the past.
Speaking of exploding, I was blown away at how simple homemade biscuits are to make, and the texture and flavor of them literally kicked the can to the curb. Composed of flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, butter, egg and buttermilk, these scrumptious biscuits cook up tall, golden and flaky (kinda like my ex).
Slathered in butter or jam, drizzled with honey or drenched in gravy, they’re a marvelous addition to your baking repertoire. They make killer breakfast sliders loaded with eggs, cheese, ham or sausage.
They also can be frozen and baked when needed (just wrap and freeze them flat on a baking sheet, then transfer them into a freezer bag when frozen). They’ll keep for as long as 3 months, and a few minutes may be added to the baking time.
I have a few simple, yet important, tips to share:
Use cold butter and buttermilk. You can even freeze the butter and grate it in. The cold butter creates pockets of steam that make your biscuits light and flaky. That’s also why we chill the dough before baking.
Don’t overwork your dough – it’ll build gluten, making your biscuits tough and dense. You want a very shaggy dough.
When cutting your biscuits, don’t twist the biscuit cutter. This can pinch and seal the edges, preventing them from rising. Just push directly down.
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from thefoodcharlatan.com.
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cubed
1 large egg
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon butter, softened (for greasing pan)
More buttermilk, for brushing
Honey and butter or jam for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl or food processor. Whisk or pulse until combined. Add the cubed butter and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or by pulsing in the processor until coarse crumbs form.
Whisk together the egg and buttermilk in a small bowl. In another small bowl, have the ice water and a tablespoon ready. If you used a food processor, transfer the flour-butter mixture into a large bowl.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Toss with a fork until just combined. Do not overwork the dough. Fold in ice water 1 tablespoon at a time. You don’t need much – this is just to help bind the dough. The dough should be shaggy, slightly sticky and crumbly.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and, using flour-dusted hands, pat the dough into a rectangle, roughly 12-by-8-inches in size. Fold one short side into the center, then the other short side over it, like a business letter.
Turn the folded dough horizontal, gently flatten, and begin that folding process two more times.
Gently pat or roll out the dough until it is at least 1-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits by firmly pushing down and pulling directly up.
Do not twist the cutter, as this can seal the edges, preventing them from rising tall. Reroll the scraps and repeat until the dough is gone. Using the tablespoon of softened butter, grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
Place the biscuits in the skillet or close together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, being sure to have them touching as it helps them rise in the oven. Place the skillet or baking sheet into a fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes. This helps to solidify the butter for more flakiness.
Brush each biscuit top with buttermilk and place into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden. If desired, brush the biscuits with melted butter and serve warm with honey and butter or jam.
In the Feb. 12 recipe for Red Velvet Crepe Cake, the measurement for the butter in the cream cheese filling was missing. It should have 1/4 cup unsalted butter. The corrected recipe can be found at spokesman.com.
Audrey Alfaro can be reached at email@example.com.
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