Southern Biscuits

As I search out the truths of culinary alchemy, I find that sometimes I get further and further from my roots. I feel like I am losing contact with my Southern alchemical philosophies. In these moments I return to my roots the best way I know how. With from scratch Southern Biscuits!

Biscuits aren’t nearly as hard to make as tv, media, and family members often try to convince you. In my opinion, the biggest stumbling block is kneading. Because cooking as a family is slowly disappearing, the techniques that individuals should learn aren’t being taught. This creates the illusion of difficulty. *mike drop*

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The purpose of kneading is to allow the proteins gliadin and glutenin in the flour to combine. For this combination to be successful gliadin attaches to one end of the water molecule (replacing the hydrogen) and the glutenin combines to the other end of the water molecule. This forms a long ester compound known as gluten, which combines the sticky properties of gliadin with the elastic properties of glutenin.

Okay, so that may have been a bit technical, so I’m going to zoom out for the synopsis. Basically, water + flour= gluten. For ideal biscuits, the key is to knead very little to allow some gluten formation, but not an excessive amount. If the dough is kneaded too much, then the biscuits will be tough. Well developed gluten networks should be saved for rolls and breads.

The recipe I use creates a very wet dough. This makes traditional kneading nearly impossible. To compensate for this I use Alton Brown’s technique of flouring wax paper then using the wax paper to fold the dough. The key is to fold the right end of the wax paper over the dough then to gently pat down the dough. Then bring the right end of the wax paper back down to the table and do the same folding and patting step with the left side of the wax paper. DO NOT LET THE DOUGH COME OFF THE WAX PAPER. If the dough starts to go over the edges use a rubber spatula to scrape it back to the center. Repeat this step 3 to 5 times.

Also I like to use a spoon to separate all of the finished dough into dollops. Then I place these dollops on the baking pan. I am not a fan of using biscuit cutters on this dough because it will get messy anyway. But if you want to use a biscuit cutter then use the spatula and the wax paper to manipulate the dough to the desired thickness then cut it. I’d also recommend using at least ¼ cup more flour in the dough to make it easier to handle.

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Ingredients

Dry
AP flour- 2 cups
Baking Powder- 4 tsp
Baking soda- ½ tsp
Salt-1 tsp

The Fat
Butter- 4 tbs

The Liquid
Whole Milk- 1 cup (If you use buttermilk, omit the lemon juice)
Greek Yogurt-1/3 cup
Lemon Juice- 1 tbs
Eggs- 1 large

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Place butter in freezer to harden.
  3. Sift dry ingredients
  4. Remove butter from freezer and grate into flour mixture.
  5. Use finger tips to rub the butter into flour mixture. The goal is to incorporate about half of the butter into the flour. You want to see the rest in the form of bits and bumps that are pea sized.
  6. Stick butter and flour mixture in the freezer.
  7. Combine wet ingredients and beat well.
  8. Remove dry ingredients from freezer then dump wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula to stir
  9. Drop the dough onto floured wax paper about15 inch long.
  10. Knead using wax paper to fold, pat, and lightly press the dough as described above.
  11. Cut the dough and put on ungreased pan.
  12. Bake about 15-17 minutes. When the biscuits are about 5 minutes from being done, use a pastry brush to brush butter on top of each biscuit.