Since the ShuTDowN, we have been enjoying Sunday Cocktail and Appetizer Hour with our neighbors, who also happen to be my brother and his wife. We gather (safely distanced) in our respective yards, maybe with a fire going, maybe not, to drink wine and have an appetizer together, before departing back home for dinner. (Sometimes dinner doesn’t happen but we plan for it anyway.) My sister-in-law is a very good cook, who likes to try new recipes, so having a Chef for a guest gives her quite an opportunity to experiment. She knows Kevin will try anything!
A couple of weeks ago she really raised the bar with a perfect campside snack of pizza dough mini-pies filled with hot dog, various condiments and tons of deliciousness. With that effort the bar was raised considerably, and Kevin was on the defensive. Then, last week, the bar went even higher as she threw down the biscuit gauntlet, serving us some of the flakiest little cocktail biscuits we’ve ever had, stuffed with ham salad. Oh my. It was all I could do to stop at two.
We were haunted by those biscuits. We had to attempt to make some for ourselves.
I tried twice, with 2 different recipes and methods. First, Monday night. The Joy of Cooking classic biscuit recipe calls for working the fat into the flour in the same way you make pie dough, creating dough-y clumps, which, upon the addition of the milk or buttermilk, come into a mass of dough with a little kneading at the end. I used lard, which I love for the flavor. Success was mixed – I think I overworked the (soft) lard into the dry ingredients, and then compounded the problem by rolling them out too thin. Some people don’t even want you to roll out the dough, just pat it out, for that very reason. Here’s the look:
You can see they are kind of flat, not flaky. Flavor wise they were fine, if a little “gummy”, maybe from less than desirable cooking time. Anyway, we’re going to try again.
Tuesday night – a new recipe from a cooking magazine. This recipe calls for grating frozen butter into your dry ingredients, tossing it together with a fork and then adding the milk/buttermilk. I got worn out grating the butter after just a few ounces, so Kevin had to take over that chore. Everything else remained the same, except I patted the dough out instead of using a rolling pin. Also, you may notice our biscuits are square – that’s because we cut them with a knife into blocks, rather than cut them in rounds with a biscuit cutter. Because, no matter what they say, re-rolled dough is never as tender as the original. Cutting them eliminates the leftover pieces and you can get some weird shapes to boot – like the “boats” below – if your “rectangle” is a little “rounded” on the edges:
A little taller and seemingly flakier, but in the taste test, they were still a tad underwhelming, a little of that “gummy” texture again. Still not competitively flaky in texture. We had to eat two each to figure that out.
So, the scale is not too friendly after two biscuit laden meals in a row – biscuits and butter! – so we skipped Wednesday for trials and went back to it on Thursday. This time Kevin got into the act and went through his method of biscuit making, using the same magazine recipe for proportions of ingredients:
(FYI – click on the first image to start a slideshow of events, if you’d like.)
The only ding is that they are kind of unevenly shaped. Chef says the reason they are sort of rounded on one end is he should have brushed the flour off before folding so the ends would have risen more evenly. Flavor – check plus. Texture – check plus. Ease of production – well, maybe a little more complicated, but not terrible.
Next time, we are adding a little extra sugar to the recipe and having ourselves some strawberry shortcake for our biscuit dinner!!