Scratch Biscuits

Scratch Biscuits

I tried making biscuits maybe 25 or so years ago and they never came out right, kinda like Ellie Mae Clampett's for those who remember watching The Beverly Hillbillies.  So, I gave up and never really thought about making them from scratch until a few weeks ago.  I gave it another shot and I guess some things do get better with age.  Thought I would share my recipe for those who want to give it a try.

I took the recipe off a bag of White Lily flour and changed it up just a bit.  The first time I made them with this recipe, I used it exactly as written.  Here is the recipe exactly how it appears on the bag.  (I'll share my changes at the end).

2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup veg. shortening
2/3 cup-3/4 cup milk

I don't normally keep buttermilk in my refrigerator unless I buy it specifically for biscuits or my homemade buttermilk cake.  So, what to do when I want to make biscuits with no buttermilk (we really don't even buy regular dairy milk).  Here is one way you can still make this recipe without buttermilk or milk.

2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
almost 1 teaspoon salt (I thought 1 whole teaspoon made them too salty)
2 1/2 Tablespoons dried buttermilk powder *
4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)-chilled*
2/3 (or a little more) milk or half n half

*you can find buttermilk powder on the baking aisle of the grocery where they carry canned evaporated milk and stuff like that
*You can also add a little vegetable shortening (Crisco) for flakiness

Preheat your oven at 500 degrees (yep...that's 500).  Preheating is very important.  Measure out your flour, baking powder, salt and buttermilk powder into a bowl and blend it with a fork to get it mixed together.  I like to use White Lily flour for biscuits because it is milled from soft southern wheat which is better for making biscuits.  For more on different types of flour, see my post Flour Power.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator and cut into about 10-12 pieces. Put those into the dry mix and blend with a pastry cutter or 2 knives.  I use a pastry cutter and it makes this step very easy.  It is important that your butter is very cold.  I don't take mine out of the frig until I am ready to put it in the dry mix.  I mash it with the cutter a few times and then scrape the cutter off and repeat 4-5 times.  The butter should be about the size of peas when you are done (there are usually some bigger chunks that don't get mixed up as well).

Next, I add the 2/3 cup half n half (or milk or even water) and mix with a fork.  The goal is to get the mixture to "come together" and pull away from the sides of the bowl.  I usually end up adding a little more liquid to get all the flour incorporated in the mix.  You don't want it to be liquid but you don't want it real dry either.  It is going to be sticky but more flour will be added at the rolling-out step.  This is what it looks like when I put it on the counter to start kneading it.

It's kind of a sticky mess and you will have dough stuck on your fingers.  Make sure you throw some flour out on your rolling surface (I use my counter top) before you turn out your dough.  Add a dusting of flour on the top and flour your hands.  Gently knead the dough for 3-4 times.

Unlike bread dough, biscuit dough should be kneaded very gently.  Kneading bread dough will make you break out in a sweat and give your arms a good workout.  Biscuit dough kneading should be gentle and only done a few times to produce a rollable dough.

Take your rolling pin and roll to about 1/2-inch thickness.  I may have rolled mine out a little thin this morning.  I cut out as many as I can, then re-roll the scraps left over after I pick up the first biscuit cuttings.  Each time you have to re-roll, your dough will get a little tougher.

Cut your biscuits out with a cutter, inverted glass, what ever you have to cut them out with and place on nonstick pan or cookie sheet.  I like to use a silpat for biscuits.  The bottoms never get too brown and they never stick.  They aren't cheap but last a very long time.  I have had this one for years.  You can also use parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

I have made these with skim milk in place of the buttermilk powder/water mix.  Just use 2/3+ cup of milk for the liquid.  I have also used a milk/half-n-half blend.  I originally bought the buttermilk powder for a cake I was making because we don't drink buttermilk at my house and if I buy fresh buttermilk, it will just get thrown out.  You keep the powder in the frig and it will stay fresh for quite a while.  There are directions on the back for using it in recipes as a substitute for fresh buttermilk.

Give these a try sometime.  They are really quite easy and turn out great.

P.S.   In case you are wondering about the blue coffee container in some of the pictures, that is my flour canister.  I searched for quite a while for a suitable canister that had a mouth wide enough to get my 1-cup scoop in easily.  Never found one but this coffee container works great.

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