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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday Morning Biscuits

Here's the thing. When you grow up believing that biscuits spring forth from a cardboard tube your mother buys in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and then whacks on the edge of the kitchen counter to open, it's a seriously profound moment when you realize this is simply one way...not the only way...of 'making' biscuits.

Years ago, when I discovered that biscuits are even better when they don't come out of a tube, I went through a bit of a biscuit-making phase, seeking out any and all kinds of variations on the standard. There were very involved dill biscuits that topped a labor intensive chicken pot pie and then little cheddar-and-bacon biscuits I served with brunch. Variations on biscuit dough that became shortcakes. I made my way through the biscuit genre. Recently, I realized that I rarely, if ever, made a simple biscuit.

A couple weeks ago when I was surfing some of my favorite food blogs, I came across Dorie Greenspan's mention of her easy buttermilk biscuit recipe which then haunted me for most of the week. (Crazy, I know. Haunted by Biscuits. I am ridiculous.) That following Sunday morning, after a cup of coffee and some leisurely perusal of the paper, I made my way into the kitchen. was Biscuit Time.

Within thirty minutes, the kitchen was filled with the cozy, warm smell of baking and we were diving into golden, flaky and tender biscuits with our scrambled eggs. I try to keep a quart of buttermilk in the refrigerator most of the time, and that's what gives these biscuits their delicious tang. A simple list of ingredients and no fancy tools required -- just your hands. It could not have been easier. And, get cardboard tube necessary.

Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from Dorie Greenspan PARADE magazine
makes 16 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Drop in the butter and, with your fingers, rub it into the flour until you’ve got crumbs—some the size of flakes, some like baby peas. Add the buttermilk and stir; the mixture will be very sticky.
2. Reach into the bowl and knead the dough gently 3 or 4 times. Turn it onto a floured surface and roll or pat it into a circle about 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can; gather the scraps, re-roll, and cut out more biscuits.

3. Transfer the biscuits to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake 15 to 18 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool 5 minutes.

Mmmm -- delicious with a bit of raspberry jam.

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