25 December 2010

"Best Biscuits Ever" - So Sayeth the Recipe

Maybe true. They were delicious, and they consisted of mostly butter and cream (a bit less than half the dough by volume). And, like most of my bread, it came from Artisan Breads Every Day. The recipe is incredibly easy and, for about 30 minutes of work and 15 minutes of baking time, you can't go wrong with it. Especially when it produces biscuits that look like this.
The prep was similar to some cold-butter recipes I have made before, in which you want to mix butter into a flour mixture without melting anything. My usual method is to put the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes and the rest of the dry ingredients in the fridge in the bowl I plan on mixing everything in. When the butter is very cold, lightly dust a cutting board with flour and chop it into 1/4 inch cubes. Alternatively, and as I did for this recipe, you can actually grate the butter into the dry ingredients using a cheese grater. Mixing this is a little hard - you can stir with a spoon to get everything to stick together - but your goal that must always be in your mind is not melting that butter.
Ideally, you pour in the chilled liquid portion, mix gingerly with your hands, and roll it on a floured surface to get it to really come together. Flour when rolling this dough is a necessity, lest it stick to the rolling pin, the cutting board, itself, or your hands. The dough is repeatedly rolled out flat, folded like a letter for an envelope, and then rolled out flat and rotated a quarter turn. Every roll out is followed by a dash of flour on top of and underneath the dough, preventing the layers from meshing together.

If you did everything properly, without letting the dough warm and without rolling the layers together, you'll get a flaky, layered biscuit.
And if you let the dough get too dry so that it doesn't stick at all, you'll get a biscuit that pops apart in the oven (don't worry, still delicious).

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