Thursday, August 9, 2007

Texas Biscuits

Got a request for another recipe on my site – something else Texan. Baking biscuits can be a fun Saturday morning activity – with or without kids. It takes a little practice, but I couldn’t cook my way out of a basket when I first married and I learned how to do it. So, belly up to the kitchen, gals and guys for a little homemade fun.

Okay, I know biscuits aren't just a Texas 'thang' but mine to happen to come from an old 'Texas' family . . . so I'm going to say that counts.

INGREDIENTS:
2 ½ Cups all purposes flour -- sift this into a large bowl
1 teaspoon salt -- I prefer Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
5 teaspoons of baking powder -- I will warn you, if your BP is old, it affects how well the biscuits rise.
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons Crisco - I like the sticks, it's easier to measure.
1 Cup + a kiss of buttermilk. I'll explain the kiss in a minute.
1 Tablespoon Canola oil

Okay, that's it. All you need.

Mix your dry ingredients together, and then CUT in the shortening (Crisco) -- you'll need a fork or whisk to do this. You want small pieces only (less than pea-size, like half of pea-size) when you've finished cutting in the shortening. Some people will substitute butter for the shortening.

**I don't use butter. I've cooked biscuits for a really, really long time -- you thought I'd tell you how old I was, didn't you? Not today. Let's just say I've been cooking biscuits longer than you've owned a lot of the appliances in your house. *GRIN* And I don't think butter cooks as well in biscuits. Sorry, Alton Brown.

Preheat your oven, NOW – 375 degrees or so. And I say ‘or so’ for a reason. Not every oven cooks at the same temperature. If your oven cooks true, then 375 will work. If it’s a little hot, then adjust down just a smidgen – and if you’re a country gal or guy, you’ll know what a smidgen is. The same goes for if your oven cooks a little cooler, then adjust up.

All right, you want to take the Canola oil and pour it on a ‘good’ cookie sheet. The double-metal layered cookie sheets work the best. About $10.00 almost everywhere.

Now, back to your biscuit dough. Time to add the ONE CUP of buttermilk. WAIT – not all at once. Pour in half then fold over the dry mixture. Then pour in the other half and fold again. The secret to light, flakey biscuits is to NOT overwork the dough. This is a by-the-feel thing and not a precise science. Sorry, I can’t get the webcam to work in the kitchen or I’d just show you how. If you have a dry section of the mixture left – then add the kiss of buttermilk. That’s enough. Too much and you’ll never get the biscuits in the oven.

The dough should be very, very sticky at this point. Let it rest for a few minutes, and you will see it start to rise. Buttermilk loves baking powder and baking soda.

I lay out a sheet of wax paper, roughly 24 inches or so long. Flour liberally. Then turn out your dough. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. This kneading part is totally up to the individual cook. Some like to get their hands in there and some don’t. You can fold up the wax paper, sandwiching in the dough to work the mixture. Fold from one side, then squish down the dough. Release the paper, then fold from the other side and squish down the dough. Repeat this process – several times. If the dough sticks to the wax paper, add a pinch more flour. If you like to use your hands for kneading, just make sure to liberally flour them.

What are you looking for? The dough should have a fairly smooth look to it when it’s done. No gloppy chunks or pieces of dough hanging loose. Pat it out until the dough covers the wax paper – about 1 and ½ inches in height. DO NOT ROLL out your biscuits. Trapped air is what makes them great.

Use a biscuit cutter, a glass, or pinch off and roll a small amount to get the actual biscuit shape. Cook’s choice.

Put your cookie sheet with Canola oil into the oven for a few minutes – watch this – it will heat in a hurry. Remove then take your prepared biscuits one at a time and lay them on the cookie sheet, coating in the oil, then flip over and leave in place on the cookie sheet. Why? Because you want the oil on the top to keep the biscuits from having a powdery look when they’re done and because they brown better and because that’s the way everybody’s grandma whoever cooked biscuits did it. **Hey, just so you're aware and nobody tries to sue me for burning their fingers -- this oil will be hot when it comes out of the oven so be careful. I've never let my kids do this part because it's too tempting to touch the oil -- no matter how many times I've said, 'That's Hot.'**

Now, put your loaded cookie sheet into the oven and leave it for fifteen minutes. DON’T open that door. Biscuits are bread and they will fall if you jerk open your oven door during the cooking process. Leave ‘em alone. Check after fifteen minutes. Crack open the oven door, just a smidgen – we’ve already established you should know how much that is. Are they golden brown on the top? Then they’re done. If not ease closed your door and wait another two minutes. Check again.

Remove from oven – I don’t bother with cooling. Biscuits are for eating hot with butter and honey.

Enjoy, I always do.

2 comments:

The Rocking Pony said...

I love your recipe commentary! I'm thinking we'll be having biscuits for breakfast. Thanks!

L.A. Mitchell said...

webcam, webcam! Just kidding. The extent of my biscuit knowledge is the exact pressure to apply to the seam of a Pillsbury roll. I applaud you for your ability to start from scratch. Your family doesn't know how good they have it. :)

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