Monday, March 5, 2012

Buttermilk Dinner Biscuits

Y'all, a bird scared the bejeesus out of me the other day.  See, we've had such a mild winter and beautiful, warm weather lately, so the wildlife has started to return to my backyard.  The little lizards are figuring out the porch, and the birds are darting back and forth between the bushes.  Except I think two of them were fighting.  Or heaven forbid, mating.  It looked like a fight, so we'll go with that.  Anyway, these two birds were flying at each other and then they were flying at the porch and BAM!  One of them hit the screen, and I almost spit coffee everywhere.

Biscuits and I have had our issues, not unlike my relationship with birds.  I can never quite seem to get them the way I want.  These biscuits, though.  These biscuits are what I think of as dinner biscuits.  See, there's two kinds of biscuits.  Breakfast biscuits are big and fluffy because you need some surface area for gravy.  Better still, you need something a little sturdy to hold your sausage.  (I totally walked into that.  Go ahead.  Say it.  That's what she said.)  Dinner biscuits are dense but still flaky.  No one wants a dry crumbly biscuit or a hockey puck.  I made some good dinner biscuits, y'all.  All it took was a little help from a 40 year old cookbook.
No fuss ingredients: Butter, vegetable shortening, flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.  If you have lard, feel free to use it.  But by all means, use Crisco like I did.
Whisk your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
Cut your shortening into small pieces and work it into the flour with a pastry blender.  When the mixture looks like coarse meal, you're good to go.
Fold in the buttermilk until you have a soft dough.
Turn it out onto a floured surface and pat it to about a 1" thickness.
Cut as many biscuits as you can with a 3-inch cutter.  Place the cut biscuits on a greased baking sheet.
Reattach the scraps without working the dough too much.  I sort of just shoved them together to make a Frankendough.  You don't really want to do more than one rework or you risk the biscuits getting tough.  I'm a sucker for scraps though, so I just rolled them into a ball and baked it anyway.
You didn't think I forgot about the butter did you?  Oh no, ma'am.  Or sir.  Butter is for brushing.
All the biscuits get a nice coating of the good stuff.  Do you have leftover butter?  Don't even think of throwing it out!  We'll use it later, promise.  The biscuits bake a mere 10 minutes and become golden heaven.
Warm. Buttery. Bread.  Oh yeah, brush those tops again with butter.  You won't regret it.
A basketful of biscuits is just what every dinner table needs.
Oh and you can still totally spread jam over the biscuits.  Jam is always appropriate.

Buttermilk Dinner Biscuits (makes about 8 biscuits)
Adapted from Cooking the Jamestown Way

2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
5 tbs vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
3/4 c buttermilk
2 tbs butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 450┬║.  Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Fold in buttermilk until a soft dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Pat the dough until it's about an inch thick.  Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut as many biscuits out of dough.  Place cut biscuits on the prepared baking sheet.  Re-pat scraps together and cut more biscuits.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter.  Bake 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.  
  • Brush baked biscuits with the remaining melted butter.  Serve warm or room temperature with jam.

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