Biscuits: You Know You Want Some
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?