Sunday, March 24, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits




I love a good biscuit.  Warm, fluffy, tender and moist with a slab of butter melting on it; nothing beats a good homemade biscuit.  Of course, this type of food is normally not acceptable in the ‘vegan at home’ diet, but on special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) one has to break the rules of the tasting partner and whip up a batch of the most delicious biscuits ever.  I have a long history of biscuits.  My mom, a Southern lady, made a good biscuit for our Sunday dinners, but every so often the biscuits would not rise and they were burnt, flat disappointments.  When I was a youngster, I seem to remember entering my biscuits in a 4H fair and receiving a blue ribbon, but no one is able to corroborate this memory.  Years passed, we started our family and time spent in the kitchen was at a premium.  Enter the canned, premade biscuit, which was good, but not a Biscuit.  After the boys had grown and I had more time to devote to passing food fancies, I discovered, after trial and error, Shirley Corriher’s Touch of Grace Biscuits (BakeWise). Delicious! 

Note:  The recipe calls for a low protein Southern U.S White Lily self-rising flour, which I can not find here in SoCal, but have had great success with Gold Medal Self Rising flour. Comparing the nutritional information, the White Lily self rising flour has 2 grams of protein per ¼ cup and the Gold Medal self rising flour has 3 grams of protein per ¼ cup, which is more, but does not appear to affect the outcome of the biscuit.

 recipe after the jump


Biscuits

Makes 12 to 14 medium biscuits
Butter for greasing, or nonstick cooking spray

2 cups (9 oz/255 g) spooned and leveled self-rising flour (preferably low-protein Southern U.S White Lily self-rising flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening (vegetable shortening)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk, or enough for dough to resemble cottage cheese (if you are not using low-protein flour, it will take more than 1 cup)

1 cup plain all-purpose flour, for shaping*

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and arrange a shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingers until there are no large lumps. Gently stir in the cream, then some of the buttermilk until dough resembles wet cottage cheese. It should be a loose, wet mess, with a cottage-cheese like texture. If you are not using low protein flour, this may take more than 1 cup of buttermilk, so add very gradually.

Spread the plain all-purpose flour (not self-rising) out on a plate or pie pan. With a medium (about 2 inches, #30) ice cream scoop or spoon, place three or four scoops of dough well apart in the flour. Sprinkle flour over each. Flour your hands. Turn a dough ball in the flour to coat, pick it up, and gently shape it into a round, shaking off the excess flour as you work. Place this biscuit in the prepared pan. Coat each dough ball in the same way and place each shaped biscuit scrunched up against its neighbor so that the biscuits rise up and don't spread out. Continue scooping and shaping until all dough is used.

Place the pan on the arranged shelf in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then invert onto one plate, then back onto another. Then, using a knife or spatula, cut quickly between biscuits to make them easy to remove. Serve immediately.

Note: Do not use self-rising flour for shaping, as the leavening agent will give a bitter taste to the outside of the biscuits.

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