Sunday, July 17, 2011

Biscuits for Breakfast

Food first thing in the morning usually turns my stomach. I usually pack yogurt with my lunch intending to eat it for breakfast, and then I eat it as a midafternoon snack. But on Sundays, I wake up and I want toast. I have been known to bake loaves of bread in desperation if I don't have any bread or reasonable bread facsimiles about (crumpets, English muffins, Trader Joe's frozen naan), but that tends to a lot of time. But biscuits are a perfect blend of speed and toast.

I got the recipe from my sister, and I think she got it from our stepgrandmother. I have been known to fail at biscuits and make things that turn out more like crackers than biscuits, tasty, but not light and flaky. The trick is to not overmix, and the trick to not overmixing is to be fairly sure that you are undermixing. Also, the food processor. Mixing the ingredients in the food processor is fantastic. I think part of the trick is to keep the butter away from your fingers as much as possible, it should do all the melting in the oven.
I never keep buttermilk in the house. I've only ever used it for biscuits, and I don't make them that often, so if I need it, I mix acid with milk. The trick is to add one tablespoon of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to the bottom of your cup measure, and then fill it with milk. Let it sit for five minutes, and you have a fantastic buttermilk substitute. I usually use lemon juice, since I also tend to not keep white vinegar in the house. I tried once with balsamic vinegar, and you could taste it in the finished biscuits, totally disappointing with the cheddar cheese biscuits I was shooting for. While the milk is setting, pulse the dry ingredients to mix them in the food processor, set the oven to preheat, and cut the butter in cubes. Use cold butter, fresh out of the refrigerator, or even better out of the freezer.

Add the butter and the buttermilk to the dry ingredients and pulse only until it all holds together. Because, remember, the trick is to mix as little as possible. Dump out the mix onto a floured surface, and knead quickly (less than 30 seconds). Roll (or pat) to 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick.

After cutting up and putting them on a baking tray, butter the tops before baking. While the biscuits are in the oven, put the kettle on for tea, and do the dishes to keep your roommates happy. Remove from oven when golden brown.

Short Instructions

Yes, I did write out long detailed instrcutions, but I tend to write things up short instructions, especially for things I've cooked multiple times, that are more like guidelines. My notes look like this, and slightly more written out instructions are at the bottom.

Buttermilk Biscuits

This makes about ten 2 inch biscuits. For egg sandwiches, I would recommend making fewer, larger, biscuits.

2 c flour (sifted)
3 t b.powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t b.soda
5 T cold butter, cubed
1 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450.

Mix dry ingredients. Pulse in butter cubes and buttermilk. Mix just until blended. Dump out on floured surface, and knead 30 seconds. Roll or pat to 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. Cut up, and put on baking sheet. Place a small slice of cold butter (or butter with soft butter) on the each biscuit. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve hot, with butter. Any other toppings, jam, honey, lemon curd, or nutella, as you wish. I tend towards straight up butter.

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