Monday, September 21, 2009

Biscuit Journey

Homemade biscuits can be delicious! When they are good, they are the stuff that makes family memories, but guess what? When they are bad they make even more memories! As a child, my mom made biscuits with Bisquick like every other mom I knew. Sometimes she used the canned ones, but we liked the Bisquick ones enough.
When I had a home of my own, I decided one day to try making biscuits. How hard could it be? The recipes are all very simple and they use extremely basic ingredients. As a young married person, I also reasoned that the homemade biscuits could be made for a fraction of the cost of the canned ones. That was the beginning of the longest running joke in our family-- mom's biscuits. At first, Ben was the only one around to make fun of them, poking at them like they were boulders, using the butter knife in an exaggerated sawing motion like he was cutting firewood, pretending to break a tooth-- it was all tooooooo funny and so annoying! After our daughter was born, it didn't take long before she got in on the joke as well. She especially enjoyed seeing her Dad act as though he couldn't lift the biscuit off the plate, moaning and groaning to her complete delight! Everyone's a comedian.
However, I kept at it, much to my family's entertainment. Finally, I figured out that it wasn't the recipe so much, they varied very little-- it was the technique. You have to be careful to not mess around with the biscuit dough much, pat it to the correct thickness, and bake at the correct temperature. Once you have these things in place though, the biscuits are light, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Homemade biscuits have a terrific, clean flavor. And yes, they are very inexpensive to make. As with pancakes and waffles, you can make up a batch of biscuits before you can go to the store to buy the canned ones. They can really make an ordinary weekday type meal special. I served these with the homemade plum jam my daughter and I made in the first post. Now, my family still makes fun of my biscuits because the joke has taken on a life of it's own. However, they do seem to be able to lift these biscuits enough to make it to their mouths!
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. cold butter
3/4 c. milk
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a good quality baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir well to mix. Use a pastry blender to combine the butter into the flour. As you work the butter in, you will see smaller and smaller pieces of butter within the flour. Keep going until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the milk and stir with a fork just until everything is moistened.
Put some flour on a tea towel or pastry cloth. Push the dough into a flattish ball, then pat gently into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out the biscuits with a biscuit cutter (metal is best). You can use a glass, but this doesn't cut cleanly and it kind of mashes the biscuit edges so they don't rise as well. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. You'll get about 9 biscuits from this recipe. Don't work the scraps too much, just press them together enough to reform them, then cut out some more biscuits.
If you want, brush each biscuit with melted butter. This makes them brown really nicely, but some people don't want the extra calories.
Bake the biscuits for about 15 minutes, but watch carefully the first time because ovens vary. Serve at once!

No comments:

Post a Comment