RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

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RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Tue May 01, 2012 11:20 am

Lately I've put a little effort into learning more about Southern cooking. That is, a few weeks ago I bought Hugh Acheson's book, A New Turn in the South, to give me a northern convert modernist's contrast to the solid traditions documented in Scott Peacock's book on the cuisine of Edna Mae Lewis, the only other Southern cookbook I have. Now I just have to do some cooking.

Turns out my Los Angeles-based buddy Annabelle has been recently bit by the same bug. She and her partner John gained some exposure to Southern food while living in Houston for a number of years, and she had just acquired a copy of the Lee Brothers cookbook that's called something like Southern Cooking: Recipes and Stories for Southerners and Would-be Southerners. With Bob and I coming for the weekend with a whole fresh ham in tow, she decided to draw on that book for inspiration when stocking up on ingredients.

Annabelle loves to cook, but her partner John is major risk-averse so she tends not to experiment until she has company in the kitchen to make her brave. Always, some meals are planned and some are open for suggestions I might have about ways to use the ingredients she's gathered. This weekend, she planned to serve a short rib recipe from the Lee Bros. book and make her first ever cornbread, but she didn't know which kind of corn meal to use so she bought an organic fine ground as well as Bob's Red Mill coarser "Yellow Grits". She also bought black kale (aka Dinosaur, also Tuscan) and some fresh cod for which there were no plans. The ham I brought was destined for a Burgundian style terrine Jambon Persille, my contribution as a course for the wine dinner on Saturday night I'd come to help with. Like an episode of Chopped, it was pretty obvious that we should use the coarse grits in the cornbread to go with the ribs on Friday night, use the finer meal to coat the cod and serve it panfried over a raw kale and wild rice salad for Friday lunch, and serve ham and grits with red eye gravy for breakfast on Sunday with some buttermilk biscuits.

Which gets me around to the purpose of this post. We used the Lee Bros. recipe for the buttermilk biscuits, and used a super white and super fine Korean flour that Annabelle stocks which we both thought would be a lot like the cake flour called for. The result was the best biscuit I've ever tasted. The flavor was perfect, not too salty as many I've tasted have been nor vaguely bitter from the baking powder as were others. The exterior was delicately crunchy and the interior full of the tender layers that have eluded my own attempts at biscuitry in the past, and I've tried a lot of recipes that promised I'd need no other. They were always wrong. But here at last was the biscuit I've always believed was possible but have never been able to produce myself.

So I'm posting it.


Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
makes 10-12 2" biscuits

•2 1/4 cups cake flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
•1 Tbs baking powder
•1 Tbs plus 1 tsp sugar
•1 tsp salt
•6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
•3/4 cup cold buttermilk
•2 Tbs melted butter, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pulse several times to combine well. Add the butter and continue to pulse in 2-second increments, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized pieces (about 5 pulses). This can also be done using a pastry blender or 2 forks if you don't have a food processor.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, pour the buttermilk over it, and use a fork to mix for about 1 minute or until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead with floured hands, and pat into a rectangle about 6x10 inches and 1-inch thick.

Fold the dough like a business letter (the rightmost third over the center third, then the left third on top). Turn the dough a quarter of a turn, pat it into another 6x10 inch rectangle, and fold it upon itself in thirds again. Repeat one more time, then pat the dough into a 6x10 inch rectangle a final time.

Using a floured 2-3 inch biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits from the dough and place them about 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Pat the scraps into a 1-inch thick rectangle and cut more biscuits.

Brush the tops with half the melted butter, and bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are just beginning to brown. Brush the tops again with the remaining butter and serve warm.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Ted Richards » Tue May 01, 2012 1:28 pm

Jenise wrote:Add the butter and lard and continue to pulse in 2-second increments,.


What lard? There's none listed in the ingredients. Did you miss one, or is the 6 Tbsp a mixture of butter and lard?
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Robert Reynolds » Tue May 01, 2012 2:05 pm

This looks like a good recipe, and I'll have to give it a try. My biscuit-making skills never have equaled my Granny's, unfortunately. But as to this recipe: where in the ingredient list is this lard of which you mention in the directions? Not that lard ever graces my kitchen, given my cholesterol level. :(
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Tue May 01, 2012 2:23 pm

Ted Richards wrote:
Jenise wrote:Add the butter and lard and continue to pulse in 2-second increments,.


What lard? There's none listed in the ingredients. Did you miss one, or is the 6 Tbsp a mixture of butter and lard?


Oops! The original recipe listed 2 T lard and 4 T butter; we used all butter. I changed the ingredient list but my mind drifted when typing the directions.

Thanks for pointing it out, guys.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Wed May 02, 2012 12:52 am

Sounds like the flour you used was a lower protein, very fine flour like White Lily (which is a winter wheat product) or other cake flour.

Now I want biscuits. :D
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Wed May 02, 2012 8:40 am

Agreed, Cynthia. Though we can't tell from the package which is written entirely in Korean. Annabelle learned of it because word got out in the Hawaiian-Chinese community that this flour makes superior bao.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Frank Deis » Wed May 02, 2012 5:40 pm

I wonder if you can post a photo or scan of the Korean label? I can probably find any Korean product I want here in central NJ, but I need to know what to look for. Perhaps I can tell you what it says.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Wed May 02, 2012 7:05 pm

Frank Deis wrote:I wonder if you can post a photo or scan of the Korean label? I can probably find any Korean product I want here in central NJ, but I need to know what to look for. Perhaps I can tell you what it says.


I don't have it, Frank, it's at Annabelle's house in Los Angeles. All I can tell you is that it was a plastic type bag that was pale pale yellow with a lot of big red Korean words on it. :)
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Carl Eppig » Wed May 02, 2012 7:08 pm

We only put sugar into biscuits when we want to make into shortcakes for dessert. We also use all lard and no butter; as it is no worse for you (albeit you have to kill a pig to get it) as it really adds to the flavor.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Wed May 02, 2012 7:12 pm

Carl Eppig wrote:We only put sugar into biscuits when we want to make into shortcakes for dessert.


I get what you're saying, but one tablespoon did not a sweet biscuit make. It just made the whole experience more balanced, the way an eighth teaspoon of sugar doesn't sweeten my iced tea but manages to make the aroma and the taste seem more closely matched.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Frank Deis » Wed May 02, 2012 7:21 pm

??

Not a plastic bag, probably not this.

Image
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Thu May 03, 2012 2:17 pm

Frank Deis wrote:??

Not a plastic bag, probably not this.

Image


Absolutely the right colors, but Annabelle's bag was definitely plastic. Wonder if its the same product, different package? Annabelle's might have been purchased in Hawaii, where humidity-protected packaging would be essential.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Frank Deis » Thu May 03, 2012 3:35 pm

I can't read the big red letters but the white letters say

밀가루 "milgalu" (or "mirgaru") wheat flour

밀 "mil" = wheat, 가루 "galu" = flour

When I was Googling around I did see a shiny version of that package. Bet I could get it at H-Mart.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Matilda L » Fri May 04, 2012 2:27 am

I opened this thinking "biscuits". I see it's "scones". :)
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Robert Reynolds » Fri May 04, 2012 8:00 am

Matilda L wrote:I opened this thinking "biscuits". I see it's "scones". :)

That's where you Aussies and Brits are off in your terminology. Biscuits are thick and soft, usually savory, and are absolutely perfect with cream gravy (try that with a scone!) or butter and honey (but can be sweet and glazed). Scones are somewhat thick, sweet, and dry as sawdust (at least those I've ever had at coffeeshops and cafes), Crackers are thin, crispy and savory. Cookies are sweet. Lesson concluded. Pop quiz may follow. :P
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Frank Deis » Fri May 04, 2012 3:38 pm

I found the flour, shiny bag and all, at H Mart. At first I thought they just had Gold Medal and American brands -- but then I realized I should look with the Korean products, and it was there. If you want to know how spicy Korean food is -- near the five pound bags of flour, there are five pound bags of ground red hot pepper. I like hot food but that would be a lifetime supply for me, I think. Also five pound bags of ground sesame.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Fri May 04, 2012 8:24 pm

Robert Reynolds wrote: Scones are somewhat thick, sweet, and dry as sawdust


That's 'cause you've never had my scones. :D Flaky, tender, not too sweet. (I also make savory scones.)
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sat May 05, 2012 12:27 pm

Cynthia Wenslow wrote:Sounds like the flour you used was a lower protein, very fine flour like White Lily (which is a winter wheat product) or other cake flour.

Now I want biscuits. :D



So Cyn and Jenise - would you recommend using a standard cake flour for this over AP?

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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Sat May 05, 2012 1:49 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:So Cyn and Jenise - would you recommend using a standard cake flour for this over AP?


I absolutely would. I generally have pastry and cake flours - which contain different levels of protein, cake being lower - for just these sorts of applications. The protein content in all-purpose is quite high by comparison.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sat May 05, 2012 3:41 pm

Cynthia Wenslow wrote:
Mike Filigenzi wrote:So Cyn and Jenise - would you recommend using a standard cake flour for this over AP?


I absolutely would. I generally have pastry and cake flours - which contain different levels of protein, cake being lower - for just these sorts of applications. The protein content in all-purpose is quite high by comparison.



Thanks! My wife keeps cake flour around at all times as well, but I'm not as familiar with its applications as she is.

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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Mark Willstatter » Sat May 05, 2012 5:35 pm

Robert Reynolds wrote:
Matilda L wrote:I opened this thinking "biscuits". I see it's "scones". :)

That's where you Aussies and Brits are off in your terminology. Biscuits are thick and soft, usually savory, and are absolutely perfect with cream gravy (try that with a scone!) or butter and honey (but can be sweet and glazed). Scones are somewhat thick, sweet, and dry as sawdust (at least those I've ever had at coffeeshops and cafes), Crackers are thin, crispy and savory. Cookies are sweet. Lesson concluded. Pop quiz may follow. :P


I imagine Mathilda is probably too polite to dispute whose terminology is "off" :wink: . In Britain and places that have been colonies more recently than the US, what Americans would call "cookies" go by "biscuits" instead and I'm sure it was that linguistic difference Mathilda was :) ing about. Beyond that, scones run the gamut in terms of sweetness and cover pretty much the same ground as biscuits in terms of thickness and dryness.
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Matilda L » Tue May 08, 2012 12:16 am

Robert, it sounds like you've had some fairly poor experiences with scones!

My scones, on a good day, are thick, fluffy and not sweet at all. (On a bad day, you could break windows with them!)
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Jenise » Tue May 08, 2012 9:17 am

Mike Filigenzi wrote:
Cynthia Wenslow wrote:Sounds like the flour you used was a lower protein, very fine flour like White Lily (which is a winter wheat product) or other cake flour.

Now I want biscuits. :D


So Cyn and Jenise - would you recommend using a standard cake flour for this over AP?


Cynthia answered that for you. The Korean flour is also a low protein flour for a lot less money than cake flour usually costs. Frank, what did you pay?
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Re: RCP: Finally, a go-to biscuit recipe

Postby Frank Deis » Tue May 08, 2012 12:52 pm

I don't remember, I think it cost $4 or $5. It DID occur to me that I could probably supply the entire WineLovers Discussion Group but shipping is gonna make it double in price...

And until I get around to trying it, I'm not sure it has the fine texture and low protein that you're talking about. There could be similar packages and different flour. Of course I =think= this is the stuff, there wasn't a choice in the Korean flour aisle.
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