Pastry Cutters….no one has one of those anymore (Ok, yeah I do), and everyone has a grater whether its a hand grater or a food processor. So, instead cutting the butter into the flour, we’ll be grating frozen butter….I store my extra butter (cant have too much) in the freezer, and since I started doing biscuits this way, I usually just keep the unsalted butter in the freezer ready for making biscuits. The trick as you grate is to have all your dry ingredients in a bowl, grate some of the butter right into the dry ingredients, stop every few grates and toss it around, so the butter is coated in flour and stuff. When you’re done grating, you’re right on to adding the milk…no extra fussing. I suppose if you grated your butter into a food processor, you’d want the flour and stuff in the bowl so that the butter would fall down in it..I use a hand grater….it doesn’t take that much more time to do it by hand and you only have the grater to clean instead of all the food processor parts. I didn’t invent this…but i love this technique enough to make it this way all the time.
Buttermilk….you can find this easy at the store, but on a weekend morning you get up wanting biscuits and have no buttermilk, here’s what you do. Take a one cup liquid measure. Drop in one tablespoon of white vinegar and fill the rest up to the one cup mark with milk. Stir for a few seconds…no big chemical reactions, it might get a little thicker..but its really the ph that has changed…and that’s what we need to react with the baking powder and soda and make big high biscuits…
Roll or pat….i roll my biscuits, but my friend Rebecca pats hers out…and I’m going to admit (damn her)…her’s rise higher. Your choice…rolling pin or hand.
Biscuit Cutter….my great grandma used a glass, i have biscuit cutters (you knew I would). There’s some foodie technical study that says if your biscuit cutter has a sharp edge to it, it causes less “damage” to the biscuit dough and lets it raise higher (reoccurring theme here…big tall biscuits). I wouldn’t tell my grandma that she was doing it wrong…but i have biscuit cutters. You could totally pat this whole thing out into a rectangle and cut it with a knife into squares…
Baking Powder and Soda…does go stale…why? I have no idea. Its a chemical…it should be stable. Maybe they react with the humidity in the air. If its older than six months…toss it and get new. (Big Tall Biscuits)
Here’s another story about my grandma. The thing that would offend her the most would be if someone took a knife and cut open one of her biscuits. She would get mad. (Now you know why i wouldn’t tell her the glass was wrong) If you fold them before you pat or roll them out (pulling up one side of the dough over the other half, flattening or rolling, and repeat from a different direction (i usually do it four times N, E, S, W) they will form layers that will allow you to grab the baked biscuit and pull it apart into a top and bottom half…a bench scraper (large no handle rubber or metal scraper) is the best tool for this.
Thank you Grandma Spaulding, Rebecca, and Thea …love you all.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 TBS baking powder
- 1/4 TSP baking soda
- 3/4 TSP salt
- 1/3 cup frozen unsalted butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients, tossing butter in every few grates.
- Stir in buttermilk until a sticky dough forms (put it all in).
- Scrape dough out on to a floured countertop, folding the dough a just a few times before you pat or roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness (maybe a little thicker).
- Cut your biscuits with your choice of weapon and place them on a cookie sheet.
- If you like soft edges place them close so that they will touch as they bake (You’ll need to add time to get the center biscuits done).
- If you like them crispy place them a couple inches apart so that they have hot air around each biscuit.
- Bake them at 450 for 15 minutes (longer if you’re doing the close to each other method).
- Brush them with melted butter (i melt down the rest of the stick i got the 1/3 of a cup from).