Friday, January 27, 2012

Well, Bless Your Biscuits

Happy New Year (since I haven't posted since December)!

This month's Daring Baker Challenge was biscuits.  Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens! Audax Artifex hails from the land down under, and what they call scones are what us Southerners call biscuits.

I was happy to begin the challenge because while I do love biscuits, I've never really been good at making them.  So,  I made several variations.

Yes, I could have cut these a little smaller...

Inside view of a fresh baked biscuit
 Batch 1: I followed the challenge recipe and instructions. The biscuits had a nice texture, but I thought there was something of a weird aftertaste.

Batch 2: Cinnamon raisin biscuits -- based on "soda biscuits" -- A while back, I found a recipe on Pinterest described as tasting like biscuits from Popeye's fried chicken. That was the hook. Reading the ingredients, I was curious how Bisquick, 7-Up (or Sprite) and sour cream played out in a biscuit. Consider that the line and the sinker. I made them for the first time in December, and they were absolutely the best biscuits I'd ever had. Light, fluffy, moist, buttery...MMMM!!  Adding some raisins, a pinch of cinnamon, and a vanilla glaze turned breakfast biscuits into dessert. These were like what you'd get at Hardee's or Bojangles (if you're in the South), but better.


I know you don't actually SEE any raisins in this picture, but they're in there.

Batch 3: Modified soda biscuits. I used the standard recipe and used sour cream and Sprite instead of milk. Better than batch 1, but still not as good as the original soda biscuits. 

See what a litte sour cream can do?

Batch 4: Cheddar biscuits -- These obviously were meant to imitate what you'd get at a certain seafood restaurant chain.  But these didn't spend any time under a heat lamp waiting for your server to bring them out.  They didn't spend much time on the table, either!

Batch 5: Whole wheat biscuits -- by the end of the month, I finally ran out of Bisquick!  So....back to the original recipe.  After measuring out half my flour, I found myself scraping the bag.  I had an unopened bag, but decided to go for one last experiment, and use half whole wheat flour.  You may be thinking they would be hard and inedible.  WRONG.  Just as light and fluffy as before, with a nice flavor from whole wheat.

Servings: about eight 2-inch or five 3-inch biscuits

Can be doubled


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons frozen grated butter
Approximately ½ cup cold milk
Optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Rub the frozen grated butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. Knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick.  Using a well-floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out without twisting six 2-inch rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch and cut two more scones.  Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

7-Up Biscuits (Yields 9 biscuits)
2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup lemon lime soda (Sprite, 7-up, etc).
1/2 stick butter

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Stir sour cream into baking mix with a fork.
3.  Add soda to bowl and stir until just mixed.  Do not overmix!  Dough will be very wet and sticky.  Don't add more flour.
3.  Turn out onto floured work surface and knead a few times with floured hands. 
4.  Use a well floured biscuit cutter to cut out.  You should get about 9 biscuits.
5.  Melt butter in 8" square baking pan. 
6.  Place biscuits in pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Notes:  If you'd like, you can skip the kneading in step 3 and make drop biscuits.  OR, dump it all into your buttered pan and it'll be like cake.  That worked well for the cinnamon raising biscuits.
Cinnamon raisin variation: Stir in a cup or so of raisins and a teaspoon of cinnamon before kneading.  Top with a quick vanilla glaze: Mix togerther 1 tablespoon softened butter or margarine, with about 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar to make a smooth frosting like mixture.  Stir in a teaspoon or two of milk to thin to a glaze. Spread the glaze over warm but not hot biscuits.

Cheese variation: Add a good sized handful of cheese and a stalks worth of chopped green onions before kneading.  You can also add a little garlic powder.

Enjoy!  See you next time.

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