Monday, February 18, 2013

The Granddaddy of All Biscuits

I think I've mentioned before that I grew up in Missouri.  It's not actually part of the American "South" but a lot of our food is heavily influenced by Southern cooking.  An example of that is our love of biscuits.  Honestly, I can't think of any meal I grew up eating, that wasn't made better by the addition of a good biscuit.  I can remember sitting at my Grandma Roberts' table, eating piping hot biscuits with homemade jelly.  Let me tell you, it doesn't get much better than that.  Unfortunately, I never got the recipe from Grandma before she passed away so I have spent a lot of years in search of the perfect one.  I have tried many but have loved none.  Either they were too small, not fluffy enough or just didn't have the right taste and texture.  However, in my quest, I have come across a few biscuits-making truths:  1.  Bite the bullet and use real lard and/or butter.  2.  Use cold ingredients, even flour from the freezer.  3.  Do NOT overhandle the dough.  This will make your biscuits flat and tough.  4.  If you want fat, fluffy biscuits, do not spread them out.  Smoosh 'em all close together.  Let 'em feel the love.  All the closeness and love makes happy biscuits, and when biscuits are happy, you get the Granddaddy of All Biscuits!  Cue tonight's recipe, which I only recently found.  It seemed like a good recipe, but I had to change two things right off the bat.  The original called for shortening and kneading the dough 15 - 20 times.  From watching my grandma, I know that one key to good pastry is lard, but I like to add part butter, for the flavor aspect.  And, as for the kneading, I refer back to biscuit-making truth number 3.  It's very important.  After those two changes were made, and I tried the first biscuit, I knew I had a keeper.

Here's your Cast of Characters:


Nothing fancy-schmancy in these beauties!

4 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 Teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/3 Cup, each, lard and unsalted butter
2 Cups milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a larg bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.  (If you don't have a sifter, simply use a whisk.)


The main thing is to see the flour become super fine and light.


I realize it's hard to see because of the white bowl, but trust me, it's super fine!

Cut in the butter and lard until the mixture resembles tiny, little pebbles.



Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Don't overstir.


Split the dough into two equal pieces, and turn one out onto a floured surface.  Work the dough briefly with your hands.  Basically, you are just trying to get rid of any big pieces of lard or butter that might be lingering.

 


Pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thickness.


Now, here's where the "Granddaddy" part comes in.  I want big, ole biscuits.  Ones that you can use to make a breakfast sandwich, if that's what you desire.  Not itty, bitty, little things, so I use a large drinking glass to cut my biscuits.  If you don't want them this big, you can use a regular biscuit cutter.  I promise I won't call you chicken.


See how nice these look?


Continue cutting biscuits until you have used all the dough.  The scraps can be re-formed once, and rolled back out for an additional biscuit, but only once or it gets too tough.

Repeat with the second batch of dough. 

Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.  Remember to bunch them close together.  Use a pastry brush to spread a little melted butter across the tops.


Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until they are puffed up, golden brown on top and the edges are just beginning to get browned.


Are you ready?  These are some seriously awesome biscuits!


Use a fork to split these babies open, and stare in awe at the light, fluffy texture!


Top with your favorite toppings.  I still love strawberry preserves, but my all-time favorite is honey butter.


My husband loves his topped with country sausage gravy.


It really doesn't matter what you put on them, I guarantee you will love these biscuits!

Enjoy!

*Note:  Store any leftovers in an airtight container.  To reheat, wrap a dampened paper towel loosely around the biscuit and microwave for 15 - 20 seconds.  This keeps them soft.