The biscuit bible

Posted by Cameron on 11.09.08 11:05 AM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Knowledgeable guitarists say that tone is in the fingers. In other words, if I were to play Eddie Van Halen’s guitar through his stage rig, I would sound like… Cameron playing Eddie Van Halen’s guitar. I wouldn’t look like him either, even though I can make all the wide-eyed guitar hero faces.

I’m beginning to think the same thing holds true for recipes. I made biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast this morning, which I do every few weeks. I usually forget which recipe I use, so I spend about ten minutes combing through our cookbooks. I have tried biscuit recipes from the back of mix boxes (long ago), the Internet, and various cookbooks. But while they all have their own idiosyncrasies, when I make them they always taste like… well… my biscuits.

Today, I used the recipe from the Joy of Cooking, and I am here to tell you brothers and sisters that when it comes to basic American staples — particularly breakfast fixin’s like waffles, French toast, and biscuits — that Rombauer gal has got it wired. The Joy recipes are simple, direct, and every bit as tasty as the complicated shenanigans you find elsewhere. Especially from that uptight bastard in the bow tie. I mean my god, Kimball: I am not acidulating milk and using two different types of flour at 9am on a Sunday morning, even if Martha herself is coming for breakfast.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Rolled Biscuits
adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I don’t bother sifting, and it’s never hurt)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
4 to 6 tablespoons chilled butter
(Joy says that you can use shortening, but… ew. Might try lard, though.)
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then cut in the butter. (Doing this by hand is picturesque, but a huge pain in the butt, especially on the first cup of coffee on a Sunday morning. Get smart and get out your food processor and metal blade. Dump in the dry ingredients, pulse them a couple of times, then drop in the chilled butter, which you’ve cut into 6-8 cubes. Pulse again 10 to 15 seconds, or until the mixture looks like crumbs.)

Add the milk and mix (or pulse) until you have wet dough. Turn the dough out on a floured surface, knead very gently 5 to 7 times, then roll out 3/4 inches thick and cut biscuits. Bake on an ungreased pan for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are brown.

baking, breakfast, cookbooks, recipes



Comment by Genie

I’m all for using the food processor in all dough preparation practices — glad to see this adaptation. Have been thinking that biscuits should be in order, but haven’t gotten around to making them lately. Your post and your wife’s Tweet this morning re: sausage gravy and biscuits are inspiring me. It might be time to give that a whirl again.

Posted on 11.09.08 at 11:14AM

Comment by Chez US - Denise

Food Processor all the way! I have not had biscuits & gravy in years …. sounds fantastic! Do you have a good sausage gravy recipe you could share, too?! ;)

Posted on 11.09.08 at 2:45PM

Comment by liz

I’ve always been a fan of James Beard’s biscuits. Particularly the cream ones!

Posted on 11.09.08 at 2:52PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

Cranky and I rely on Irma. He even wrote a column about it once, titled “The Joy Boy of Cooking.”

Posted on 11.09.08 at 3:35PM

Comment by Laura

Mmmm, might have to try that one. My current favorite is the cream biscuits from The Art of Simple Cooking. I usually do it by hand, but they could easily be food processed.

Can’t wait to see you!

Posted on 11.09.08 at 6:22PM

Comment by Michelle

I feel compelled to come out of lurkerdom and say that was some fabulous snark. While I actually really like owning and making recipes from The New Best Recipe, there are some that cause us to go, “well, it’s good, but not two extra hours of prep and twice as many dishes good; I think I’ll stick with our trusty standby recipe.”

Posted on 11.09.08 at 10:51PM

Comment by Cameron

Genie: Good to see you last night. I love biscuits, but I don’t make them all the time. When I do, I wonder why I don’t make them more often because they come together so easily.

Denise: Recipe for sausage gravy? Um. Just the one labeled “bechamel” written on the seat of my pants. Fry sausage and remove from the pan. Add a couple of teaspoons of flour to the hot fat and cook for 5-7 minutes. If I’m making biscuits, I’ll recycle some of flour that I scattered on the counter to roll the dough. Add milk (maybe a cup), scrape up the browned bits, and cook until thickened. Taste and salt.

Liz: I’ll have to try them!

Cookie: That Cranky is a smart guy.

Laura: Sounds like a winner — can’t wait to see you as well!

Michelle: Thank you! I have a hate-love relationship with America’s Chemistry Lab (er…Test Kitchen). Most of the time, they either take something simple and make it way too complicated, or take something complicated and dumb down the flavors in an attempt to make it simple. But I have to admit that every now and then they (or one of their alumnae) hit it out of the park. Pam Anderson’s chicken soup from the Perfect Recipe is otherworldly, and the preparation is genius.

Posted on 11.10.08 at 8:58AM

Comment by robin @ caviar and codfish

You know, I don’t really know the difference between shortening and lard. Shortening vegetable? I made peppermint patties and the insides were just shortening, mint, and powdered sugar – it was delicious but now I’m wondering what I actually ate.

But anyways… mmm biscuits!

Posted on 11.13.08 at 7:03AM

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