I made some biscuits this morning, partly because I’d posted a comment over at my friend Katelyn’s blog little woman, but mostly because I just wanted some biscuits with breakfast. They turned out OK, although I’d have liked for ’em to be a little more brown on the tops. Ah, well. “Read More” for the recipe.
Biscuits (without buttermilk)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
5-6 Tbsp butter, cold
3/4 cup milk
Start by whisking the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. You could use a food processor for this part (and I have in the past), but I’ve found that the motor can melt the butter too much, so I stick to the whisk & bowl method. You could also sift the ingredients together, but I didn’t really want to get my sieve dirty this morning. If you do sift, the biscuits end up a little lighter.
Cut the butter into small pieces. Cubes would be most appropriate, but I’m lazy, so I just did thin slices. However you cut the butter, make sure it stays cold. Put it back in the fridge to keep chilled if necessary (for example, if you slice it before you measure the flour)
Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Try to separate the pieces a bit as you add, it makes this step easier. Then, using two knives, a pastry blender, or (like I did today) the tips of your fingers, incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. Just rub the butter into the flour, until the entire mess resembles bread crumbs. If your hands are really hot, like mine, you’ll probably need to wash your hands now (or at least wipe them on your apron).
Add all of the milk at once, and stir just until everything comes together and there’s not a lot of dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t work the dough too much here, or you’ll end up with too much gluten (and chewy, rather than fluffy, biscuits).
Put a bit of flour on your board, then turn the dough out, and knead 5-10 times, just to pick up any extra dough that didn’t get worked in while you were using the spoon. Again, don’t work the dough too much here: you’re just trying to get everything together, not make pizza.
Once it’s rolled out, grab your biscuit cutter (mine came as a set of nested cutters from Williams-Sonoma). For the best results, shoot for a 1 3/4″ to 2″ cutter, and the thinner the sides, the better. Dust the cutter in a bit of flower, then cut out as many biscuits as you can from the first roll-out. Push the cutter straight down, then twist slightly. Once you’ve got the first batch cut out, wad up the rest of the dough and roll it back out. Repeat until you’ve got 9-12 biscuits.
Grab a sheet pan, and apply the biscuits. Make sure they’re touching slightly, and don’t grease the pan; this contributes to the lift (they can’t stretch out on the sides, so they have to go up). Use your thumb and make little dimples in the top. Not very deep, just enough that the center is lower than the outside edges. Brush a little milk on the tops of the biscuits for some extra browning, then put the pan in the middle of your oven for 10-12 minutes.