Best Biscuits Ever
Nancy Leson and I each got a copy of the new Hello My Name is Tasty: Global Diner Favorites from Portland's Tasty Restaurants. There's plenty in there I'm looking forward to trying, but like Nancy I went straight to the biscuits. We both made them and agree they're the best ever. Here's how:
Nance loves these biscuits with jam. I like 'em with fried eggs, bacon and grits.
Tasty Biscuits from Hello My Name is Tasty. Makes 12. Can be halved. 3 cups All-purpose flour
3 cups Pastry flour*
2 tablespoons baking powder** 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter 2-1/4 cups buttermilk*** 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 2. In a large bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. 3. Wearing rubber gloves, use a box grater to grate the butter. Toss the butter by hand into the dry ingredients, mixing it until the dough resembles peas. 4. Gradually add buttermilk, sitting it in by hand as little as possible to avoid overworking the gluten, just until the dough is uniform and holds together. 5. Knead the dough for about 1 minute and then roll it out to 1 inch thick. Cut it into four roughly equal squares, stack them, then roll the dough out again to 1 inch thick. 6. Cut the biscuits out gently with a 3-1/2 inch biscuit cutter**** leaving as little space between the biscuits as possible. Do not twist the cutter as you press down. 7. Combine the scraps gently, roll out the remaining dough to 1 inch thick and cut out the remaining biscuits. 8. Arrange the biscuits on the lined baking sheet so that they all are touching. Brush the biscuits with the melted butter and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. You should be able to lift the biscuit at the very center of the tray from its middle and it shouldn’t he stringy or doughy at all. 9. The biscuits are best served directly from the oven but they can also be reheated in a 350° oven for 4 to 5 minutes. You want them to be hot throughout but you don’t want them to pick up any color. Store extras in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. If you have leftovers after than they make great bread crumbs.
* Pastry flour is 8.5 -9.5% protein, slightly higher than cake flour at 7 to 8.5. I used cake flour instead of pastry flour and the biscuits were fine. You can make your own pastry flour by mixing 2 parts all-purpose with 1 part cake flour.
** Baking powder loses strength over time. I always mark my can with the date I first opened it and replace it after six months.
*** Nancy likes Bulgarian buttermilk for this.
**** Never use empty tuna cans to cut biscuits. The dull sides will smoosh down the edges of the dough and prevent a good rise.
Nance and I were both very pleased with the big rise and tender, flaky crumb of these biscuits. True, they're a bit of work, but well worth it. My chief taster, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot, a woman who knows how to get outside of a biscuit says, "More!"
An interesting historical note
Baking powder, the essential ingredient in baking powder biscuits, has only been in existence since 1856. From the moment of its introduction it sparked a titanic battle for market share. Linda Civitello's Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking is a fascinating description of a little-known chapter in American culinary history
"A positive attitude and a sense of humor go together like biscuits and gravy." – Dolly Parton