All thanks to my work and the fabulous Dallas furnished apartments, I can now bake and cook to my heart’s content, even when I’m away on business!
I no longer travel for business and stay in little hotel rooms and eat out every single meal.
So I write this while away on business, staying in this corporate housing in Dallas. The apartments are large and come fully equipped with all you could need or want – including all your baking goods – perfect for the chef in all of us!
This recipe is adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and tastes much better if you can find a local source of true buttermilk — what’s left after butter is churned from fresh, whole milk. Store-bought buttermilk is manufactured by adding lemon juice to milk that’s already been stripped of its cream. It is a sad replacement for true buttermilk.
Regular milk — in Appalachia we call it “sweet” milk to distinguish it from tangy buttermilk — will do in a pinch.
Yield: Makes 8 to 12 biscuits
Optional special equipment: pastry blender or electric food processor, biscuit cutter, cookie sheet or pizza pan, parchment paper.
Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup more, divided (for rolling out dough)
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons or 1 stick butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled for 30 minutes
3/4 cup very cold buttermilk
Instructions: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 450 degrees. Line the cookie sheet or pizza pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Note: you don’t want to use wax paper for this because it will smoke in the oven, imparting off flavors to the biscuits and stinking up your kitchen.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and, using a heavy-gauge metal whisk, pastry blender or large fork, quickly cut the cubes into the flour. Stop when you have pea-sized lumps of fat distributed throughout the flour mixture. (You can also do this in a food processor — it takes about 12 pulses). Using a rubber or silicone spatula, stir in the buttermilk until just combined.
DO NOT OVERMIX, or your biscuits will be chewy, not flaky. Mixing excites the gluten and protein in flour. This is a wonderful thing to do when you want to make sandwich or artisan bread, but it’s a terrible thing to do to biscuits.
The dough should be rough and sticky. Turn it out onto a clean, dry counter sprinkled with a half of the reserved all-purpose flour. Sprinkle the rest over the dough and your hands. Gently pat the dough into a circle about 3/4-inch thick.
At this point, you may do two things. You may cut the dough into 8 to 12 rounds with a biscuit cutter dipped in flour to keep it from sticking. This is traditional but will be messy and require you to pat out the dough a couple more times, perhaps toughening some of the biscuits.
Or, you can cut the dough into 8 to 12 wedges using a very sharp chef’s knife. This technique makes biscuits that look like the scones you will find in American coffee shops. I do the rounds because they are traditional, but maybe wedges are smarter.
Slathered with butter and jam, jelly, honey, syrup or molasses, these make an excellent dessert. Left savory, they go smashingly with country gravy, make wonderful ham, sausage or egg biscuits, but are best served with fried chicken. Mmm dinner tonight is sorted.