Biscuits

My wife asked me to make biscuits for Sunday morning. Although they are generally simple to make, there are a couple of aspects of biscuit-making that I find somewhat annoying. But, she’s been traveling for work for the last two weeks, and so I was happy to oblige.

Biscuit Recipe:

My recipe is modified from this Cooking For Engineers biscuit recipe and this Real Simple Brie and Chive Biscuits recipe. I like these two recipes because they don’t require shortening, which I concede makes for a better biscuit. But I just don’t like the idea of using shortening.

1. Cut the fat: This is the first of the two annoying parts to making biscuits. You need to 6T of butter. Cubing butter is annoying. You try to cut it into smaller pieces in a quick and efficient manner, but all that happens is that the butter smooshes into itself and everything gets sticky. But you need to keep the pieces somewhat separated. Put them into a small bowl and stick them in the freezer. You need to have cold butter to make biscuits work. It’s annoying.

2. Cut the cheese: I had some leftover brie from a couple of weeks ago. It looked moldy in a not-intentional way and I was about to throw it out. But putting in a biscuit sounded like a good idea, so I cubed it and put it in the freezer too. Last time I used brie in these biscuits, I left the rind on. This time, I took it off. Because I still am not quite sure whether one is supposed to eat the rind.

2. Mix dry ingredients: 2C flour. 2t baking powder, and .25t baking soda in a big bowl. Most other recipes also call for salt. I skip it. I’m going to be adding cheese to these biscuits, so I figure there’s saltiness from there.

3. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients: This is the second of the two annoying parts about making biscuits. Get the cubed butter from the freezer and then cut it into the dry ingredients. Some say that you can use your hands for this, but the last time I tried it, the biscuits didn’t rise at all. So I bought a dough thingy that looks like a mix between brass knuckles and a potato masher. You have to also use a knife or something because it gets gunked up. The dough thingy is super annoying to clean.

4. Add cheese: Put your cheese in now and mix it in too. You can use the dough thingy or just mix things around so that the pieces of brie each get coated with flour and there’s no clumps of cheese. Other times, I have tried cheddar, which is good but melts a little too much.

5. Add liquid: biscuits typically require buttermilk. It has a tanginess that makes for good biscuits. It may also have a higher fat content, but I’m not sure. Either way, I didn’t happen to have any buttermilk, so I used .75C of the 2% milk I had in the fridge. I figured that, since I was using past-its-prime brie, I would get all the tang I needed.

6. Mold into a doughish shape: Dump everything out on your board. It will look like it’s too dry. Don’t worry. Just kind of clump everything together a couple times and then flatten it out into about an inch thick disk. You don’t need to do any kneading, which is nice. At this point, you can start pre-heating your oven to 375.

7. Cut the biscuits: I use my favorite whiskey glass, but I suppose you could use a biscuit cutter. Push straight down and don’t twist until you’ve cut through all the way. Lay them out on a parchment lined baking tray. The Real Simple recipe says you should be able to get about 16 biscuits. I have never been able to get more than 10 or 11.

8. Bake: 375 for 16 minutes. At about 8 minutes into the baking, your kitchen will start to smell awesome.

9. Cool: set them out on a cooling rack. This would be a good time to start making breakfast.

These biscuits tuned out a little dryer than I was hoping. They didn’t taste particularly, brie-y, but there was a nice saltiness to them. I think that using 2% milk is definitely something you can do, but the buttermilk does make them better.

The biscuits were really good with some nice and dippy eggs. The biscuits were even better with a little bit of extra butter. They get nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They don’t exactly split open like biscuits from a can or like the biscuits at McDonald’s, but they are still really good nonetheless. Every once in a while, you would get a bite of a particularly cheesy part. My wife and I each ate three biscuits with breakfast.

This recipe is a work in progress. 2% milk was fine, but whole milk would be better and buttermilk would be best. Also, I think I may melt up some butter and give the biscuits a quick brush of butter before baking the next time.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Biscuits

  1. Pingback: Canned Ham | cookingkos

  2. Tom

    Buttermilk does have a higher fat content but it is also acidic. The baking soda reacts with it to make the biscuits rise better. Since you are using baking powder as well you didn’t get flat hard biscuits but in general when using baking soda in cakes, cookies or quick breads (as opposed to yeast breads) there MUST be an acid to make it work. Typically when you use sweet milk instead of buttermilk in a recipe you leave out the baking soda and you might increase the baking powder by a small fraction of the baking soda you left out.

    If you used shortening at room temp you could cut it into the flour with a fork.
    I don’t think I’ve used a pastry knife for biscuits in nearly 20 years. Butter generally has additional moisture in it compared to shortening and that makes for a different consistency.

    Biscuits are best when served still warm enough to melt butter rather than cooled completely.

    I don’t work for them but the Betty Crocker cookbook is hard to beat as a starting point for most recipes.

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