Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Perfect Biscuits

Remember my post on how to make perfect pancakes?   Well, I have a treat for you!  I'd also like to share how to make great biscuits.  Where can you find great biscuits?  The website for the Clinton St. Baking Company - a restaurant in New York City where the talented chef Neil Kleinberg has perfected the art of biscuit baking.

"I think Neil can be called the King of Biscuits."  - Martha Stewart

Can't get to New York City?  Make them at home!  Yes, even you, because if I can do it after about 8 years of failed biscuit making, you can too!  See, I could make beautiful, perfect pie crusts, buttery yeast rolls from scratch, but my biscuits were terrible.  When I was desperate, I would buy frozen ones and when I was even more desperate, I would buy the ones in the can.  But when I tried this recipe, carefully following the directions, voila!  They worked!  And they come out beautiful and fluffy every single time!  Split them with a fork or slice them with a serrated knife, they are always light and fluffy on the inside, with a nice crisp bite on the outside.  You can find this, and more of Neil Kleinberg's superb recipes in this cookbook -

(My copy was a gift from my mother-in-law.  It's one of my very favorite cookbooks.  My husband gets really excited when he sees that I have it out!)  Well, I felt like I really needed to give credit where credit was due, but now on to the recipe:

2 c. all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
2 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 Tbs. vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into small chunks
3/4 c. buttermilk

Makes 6 biscuits
(I usually double or triple the recipe and it works out just fine in the mixer.)

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Place 2 c. flour and the other dry ingredients in the bowl of your KitchenAid (or other stand mixer).  Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until combined.  Add the butter and shortening to the bowl and mix on low speed until the dough reaches a crumbly texture.  The butter and shortening should be the size of peas.  Add the buttermilk to the bowl all at once.  Mix very briefly on low speed until the dough just comes together.  (This should take less than 10 seconds.  Yes, I count.)

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form it into a ball.  Lightly knead the dough two or three times until combined.  Pat out the dough to about 1" thickness.  Shape the dough into a rectangle, making the sides high.  Using a 2" round biscuit cutter, cut out your biscuits.  After you have cut them all out, gently gather the scraps to form a few more biscuits.  Place your biscuits on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (I use a silpat).

Place the pan in the pre-heated oven for about 17 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through.  Serve warm with butter, honey, jam... whatever suits your fancy.

  • When it comes to biscuit making, the general rule is that the less you handle the dough, the better.  Use a light hand, don't knead more than it takes to have the dough loosely come together, don't roll out too much, etc...
  • These biscuits can be prepared and then rested overnight for baking the next day.  Dust a sheet pan and the top of the dough with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.  Bring the dough back to room temperature for baking.
  • You can mix these biscuits by hand, without a mixer. 
  • It is a common mistake to twist the biscuit cutter in the dough.  Cut by pushing the cutter directly into the dough and then lifting the cutter.  If you twist the cutter, the biscuits may not rise. 
  • My substitutions - I almost always use half whole wheat flour, and instead of shortening, I use only butter.  Due to a dairy allergy in the family, I have used rice milk with a splash of lemon juice instead of buttermilk and it works fine, but my current preference is slightly soured raw milk. 
Want to remember this one for later? 
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  1. Biscuit dough in a mixer???? Goes against my grain, but I am intrigued enough to try it. Love the illustration on the book cover! Biscuits MUST have love included to be worth eating.

  2. I KNOW! I thought the same thing! But it worked, and it is the only way I have ever made decent biscuits. Wondering if it would work as well in the food processor, but I'm a little afraid to try it. "If it ain't broke..." and all.

  3. Looking forward to trying this recipe! I made the yeast rolls from the recipe you out up and my husband loved them so I/m guessing this recipe will be w winner!

    Do you think this is a recipe that you could make ahead and freeze?

    I'm glad you are back to posting. I missed reading your posts.

  4. I have not tried freezing them, but I am thinking you could. I would try forming their shape on a cookie sheet, flash freezing them, then transferring to a ziploc. When ready to eat, thaw on a cookie sheet and bake as usual once they reach room temp.

    And thank you! I missed posting too. Happy to be back to blogging again.


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