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Biscuits: You Know You Want Some

June 30, 2007

Originally uploaded by melynda.huskey

I calculate, conservatively, that I have made 39,600 biscuits since I was ten years old. Back in the day, I made at least one batch a week, and 6 dozen at a time (the boys could eat them some biscuit). Now I’ve handed the biscuit torch–and my secret recipe–to Little Sunshine, who is already a genius with a biscuit cutter. But 40,000 biscuits give a woman a certain authority, and I’m prepared to share everything I know about biscuits with you. But listen: I’m not joking about any of this. Follow the recipe. Biscuits are serious.

So here’s the secret: frozen butter. Butter. From a cow. Not margarine.  And for Heaven’s sake, not that malodorous obscenity, Butter-Flavored Crisco.

Frozen  butter. I keep 3 pounds of butter in the freezer at all times. Go put your butter in the freezer, and come back in 2 hours.

Welcome back! Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or put a Silpat on it.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups of unbleached flour, a tablespoon of Clabber Girl baking powder (you probably could use some other kind, but why take a chance?), and a teaspoon of Morton kosher salt. (It strikes me that I only use ingredients with cute little girls on the label. Make of that what you will.)

Measure a generous 3/4 cup of milk. (You pick what kind. No, really. Feel free to use whole milk, 2%, even skim.) Don’t pour it in yet!

Get a stick of butter out of the freezer. Grate it on the big hole side of your grater. I use a nifty little IKEA grater with a plastic bowl underneath, but you could grate the butter directly over the flour mixture, too. Move quickly, now! Toss the grated butter with the flour lightly, till it’s all mixed together. Pour the milk over this, and stir it with the handle of a wooden spoon (I got this trick from a Canadian cooking show, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes!) till you have a nice soft cold dough. Pat it out on a lightly floured counter, about an inch and a half thick. Cut it with your favorite biscuit cutter (or even a water glass). Put the rounds on the cookie sheet about 2″ apart, and get it in the oven as quickly as you can.

10 minutes later, they should be a lovely blistered golden brown, fragrant and flaky, breaking easily into steamy layers. Butter, strawberry jam, honey, apple butter . . . They won’t last long, but they’ll be a thing of beauty for the ten minutes you’ve got them.

Twenty minutes tops from ingredients to bliss: what are you waiting for?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. dragonsinger permalink
    July 1, 2007 1:42 am

    hmm – ok – these are scones (note that here in NZ there isn’t an “own” sound in the middle rather an “on” sound) and now i understand the confusion when i talk about biscuits …

  2. melyndahuskey permalink*
    July 1, 2007 10:00 am

    I thought of mentioning this. Your biscuits are our cookies, of course. Then we have scones, too, but they’re sort of halfway between our biscuits and your biscuits–sweetish, full of dried fruits. When you buy them in coffee shops, they tend to be huge, doughy, crumbly, and nasty–and sometime they have frosting, which is repulsive. Our biscuits are more like 19th-century scones–unsweetened, no fruit, and meant to serve as a bread, rather than a sweet. I have a recipe for plain drop scones that Queen Victoria was fond of–they’re quite good, but not at all like this recipe. I’ll post it one of these days.

  3. mrparallel permalink
    December 12, 2009 3:45 pm

    I’ma do this right now.

  4. mrparallel permalink
    December 12, 2009 6:06 pm

    Woah. Revelatory.

  5. melyndahuskey permalink*
    December 12, 2009 9:56 pm

    Told you. There can only be one, and this is it.

  6. mrparallel permalink
    January 13, 2010 7:49 pm

    Suppose that someone in your life keeps moving the butter from the freezer to the fridge: that’s no reason to wait 2 hours as the butter re-freezes. You can sgrate the butter at fridge temperature. Next put it on a plate and put the plate in the freezer. 10 minutes later you are good to go. Just sayin’.

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