Thursday, January 9, 2014

Better-Than-Store-Bought Biscuits




Over the Christmas season, we were fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with my husband's high school friends, a group they call "The Core" (which always reminds me an '80s band or a trendy gym). Our friend Eric and his wife Christa were in town for the wedding of another Core member, and since they're the only ones who live out of state, it's always a good excuse to get everyone together when they're in town. During a little dinner party at our house, somehow Christa and I ended up talking about how you can never make homemade biscuits turn out quite as delicious as the store-bought ones that come in the tube you smack with a spoon. Seriously, they're never as good. What does Pillsbury put in those tubes that makes their biscuits come out all airy and fluffy and buttery? (Do I actually want to know?) Christa is from Alabama, which I figured meant she would have a slam-dunk biscuit recipe--don't they eat biscuits all the time in the South? But even she agreed that store-bought always turns out best.

A week or so later I was making a turkey soup that needed some kind of accompaniment and remembered my conversation with Christa. Thus far in my life I had never made a successful biscuit. They always come out more gluten-y doorstoppers than buttery showstoppers. This time I turned to Mark Bittman's trusty How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to see if his recipe could bring me out of my biscuit funk. And indeed it did! Any guesses for the secret ingredient that made the difference? More baking powder? The lately-super-popular coconut oil? Eye of newt?

Nope, the thing that made the difference was none other than that most versatile of dairy products: yogurt. (Wish I had known this when I wrote about unexpected uses for Greek yogurt.) Then again, the use of the food processor may have also made a difference--though even Mark Bittman says it's the yogurt. These came out light, buttery, and yes, even fluffy! With the addition of some fresh herbs, they made for a hearty sidekick to turkey soup--and from now on, I'm sure I'll be using them to accompany many other dishes, because they actually were... 

better than store-bought!


Better-Than-Store-Bought Biscuits
(Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose or cake flour
1 scant tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. dried herbs, such as rosemary or thyme (optional)
4 Tbsp. butter
7/8 c. yogurt
3 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and pulse it in the food processor until thoroughly blended.

3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt and milk and form dough into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 times.

4. Press the dough to a 3/4 inch thickness and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or open end of a glass. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Makes about 10 biscuits.

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