Tuesday, October 15, 2013

buttermilk biscuits and my constant struggle with southern classics

I can not make biscuits. My cornbread always fails. Like it or not, this Italian girl can not get these southern classics down.

Truth be told, I haven't been trying for ages. And to be fair to myself, when I make these things they are never terrible--and certainly not inedible. But I know a good biscuit when I have one, and mine do not rise, they don't get as fluffy and the whole thing just frustrates me.

Surprisingly, a good and easy biscuit recipe is hard to find, but I researched tips and tricks. Such as: do not twist your biscuit cutter or it will interfere with the layers and flakiness. A dough cutter is not necessary. Simple is best.

You may recall my admittance to biscuit failure recently, which made me even more determined to try again. As I scoured the internet & tweeted at Alton Brown for his recipe (to no avail), I remembered my favorite cooking muse. Smitten kitchen to the rescue (I hoped!)

As usual, Deb breaks it down in an uncomplicated way and I followed her recipe exactly. I stopped just short of grabbing a ruler to measure how thick I rolled out my dough (she doesn't suggest that, but I wanted to get to that 1/2 inch thickness perfectly.)

Sunday morning bowl of biscuits

The biscuits tasted delicious. I woke Mike up on a Sunday morning with some fresh strawberry jam and these babies and he was as happy as a clam. But my perfectionist self was still not happy. They didn't rise enough--why? My flour was brand new.

Of course I spent the day musing out loud as to what I could do differently, and Mike probably just wanted to eat more biscuits. Maybe I need fresh baking soda. And fresh baking powder. Maybe I kneaded them too much? I may never know.

The bottom line is that I made it happen, and next time they will be even better. You can find Debs recipe here, and below is my quick strawberry jam.

strawberry jam (not for canning)
6 strawberries, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water (added slowly)
  • add strawberries, sugar and half of the water to a pot on low heat
  • stir frequently, add salt, flour and butter once sugar is dissolved
  • if mixture is thick, add remaining water, otherwise leave it out
  • if mixture is too thin, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time
  • bring up to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool
  • serve and enjoy!

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