Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Biscuits That Will Keep You in the House

Well, I knew my winter hibernation instincts had kicked in a while ago, but that's been more evident than ever lately. I have to convince myself to even leave the house, where there are warm pajamas, tv shows to watch, books to read while snuggled under my covers... and delicious baked goods, right out of the oven.

This isn't a new recipe to me, but I realized I hadn't yet put it up on here. And I can't imagine that I'm the only one who's been into hibernation lately (especially with the temperature in the teens this week), so I thought I'd share. These biscuits are simple to throw together, and they come out of the oven in no time - so you can get back in bed before your feet can even get cold.

A few notes:
This recipe works easily if the butter is cut up into little chunks first. I like to cut mine into about 90 pieces - slice the stick into three equal pieces lengthwise, then rotate 90° and slice into another three pieces lengthwise (so you'll have 9 long pieces). Then cut width-wise to form little cubes - 10 slices will get you 90 pieces total.

When you knead the dough, try to do so as little as possible. Overworking the dough will make it tough. Similarly, once you have stamped out the biscuits, gently rework the scraps into another 1-inch thick disk and cut more biscuits. The second batch will be slightly less tender and flaky because the dough has been reworked. By the time you get to a third batch, the dough is pretty tough, and the results aren't very good at all.

Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces and chilled
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add in butter and, working quickly with your hands, press the flour mixture into the butter, rubbing between your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring until it is all combined into the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until the dough pulls together into a uniform consistency. Flatten dough out with the palm of your hand until it is 1 inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and lay bottom-side-up on the baking sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 400° and rotate the pan. Bake for another 10-13 minutes until golden brown. Best served warm.

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