Monday, September 7, 2015

Biscuits

It took me a lot of years to learn how to make good biscuits. I tried every recipe I could find, and while some of them were edible, they weren't good... you know? (And some were downright inedible!)

I tried keeping the fat as cold as possible, using a knife to "cut it in" to the flour. I tried one recipe that used oil, dumped in all at one time. Another recipe said you had to use butter and not any other kind of fat. How much of what was another problem because every recipe was different!

Nothing worked for me, so in desperation, I called Mom one day and asked her how she cut the fat in. "Oh, I just use my hands," she said. Done. If Mom could, so could I, and I did.

"How much baking powder do you use to how much flour?" I asked.

"I don't know. I just dump it in until it seems right."

So with a deep breath, I plunged in. I dumped flour and salt and baking powder into a bowl until it "seemed right," then I cut in the fat and added enough milk to make a soft dough and turned it out onto the floured table top.

That was the first batch of biscuits I ever made that were good. If I can do it, so can you.

Start heating the oven to 450 degrees. Put enough fat to coat the bottom about an eighth of an inch thick into your baking pan and set it in the oven while it heats.

Use a large bowl to begin with, and I can tell you this much: For a standard 9 X 11 baking pan, use about two cups of unsifted flour. Add salt and pretend like you were going to eat the mixture, so you don't put in too much or too little. After that, put in a couple of heaping teaspoons of baking powder, then at least a little more than you think you'll need, then mix it all together.

Estimate about a quarter cup or less of fat. Use butter, shortening, lard, bacon grease or whatever you like, and mix it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it's like coarse cornmeal, just like they say.

Pour in the milk a little at a time until you have a soft dough, barely past the sticky point. Turn it out onto a floured surface and cut biscuits with a glass or biscuit cutter or a small empty can (Those small mushroom cans are great for this.)

Get the pan from the oven and set it on a heat safe pad or on top of the stove and begin putting the cut biscuits in by dipping them into the fat, then turning the dipped side up in the pan. By having the tops covered with fat, it will help them brown better.

Bake about 20 minutes.

Go ahead and try it!

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