Build a better biscuit

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by IveofIone, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    I have been baking biscuits for over 50 years but I always have my ear to the ground for better recipes. Over the years I have used Bisquick and other mixes (no flavor) and also baked canned biscuits (dry and tasteless) before learning how to make baking powder biscuits. By now I can make a decent version practically in my sleep but at times just want to up my game from good to great.

    So here is what I do for the extra good stuff. I am using Shepherds Grain flour from right here in Washington. I get it in 50# bags at a restaurant supply store. Salt is the grey French sea salt from Penzy's. Very expensive as salt goes but a pound goes a helluva long ways a teaspoon at a time. Other salt just can't compete for flavor. Use baking powder with no aluminum and always use fresh baking soda. Soda is just pennies for a small box and it is to be changed often. Baking soda is often kept for months and by then you might just as well omit it entirely. It's dead. I mix my dry ingredients the night before and store them in the fridge overnight. Be sure they are sealed as not to pick up any off odors.

    In the morning the dry stuff is placed in a food processor while still cold and 6 tablespoons of cold butter added. Pulse briefly to form a course meal then add butter milk and pulse until the dough just comes together in a shaggy wet ball. Turn out onto a floured board and pat into about a 1'' thick circle. Fold 3 or 4 times but don't overwork the dough. A rolling pin will make for tough biscuits that don't rise and too much handwork will warm the dough and reduce the oven spring. Biscuits that touch will rise more than ones that are separated. Bake 10 to 12 minutes but don't over bake. Don't skimp on ingredients, buy quality buttermilk and good butter. I prefer Darigold to the others. Bake on a black cookie sheet if possible.

    2 cups ( 9 oz) unbleached flour
    1 tbls baking powder
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    6 tbls unsalted butter
    1 cup buttermilk

    Bake 10-12 min in 450 degree oven until just golden

    Add honey or jam and enjoy.

    Just a caveat about honey: Be careful what you buy and try to find a pure domestic honey if possible. Unfortunately honey is being laundered around the world much like drug money and the result is you probably are not getting the pure stuff. It goes from one country to another where it is cut-often with corn syrup and what you end up with is a honey flavored syrup instead of the real thing. Even Costco honey which used to be real good now says it is a product of Brazil or Argentina even though it says on the label it is Organic 100% US Grade A. Whatever they call it, it ain't what it used to be. Be prepared to spend real money for real honey.

  2. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    I need to research it a bit. I just hate doing internet searches, because there's so much crap out there.

    But my Grandma used to use lard (aka snow white) in her biscuits. I remember her kneading it by hand. Can't remember all she put in it. But remember them having an amazing flavor.

    I am going to try above. Baking has always been an achiles heal for me. Dutch oven desserts is one thing, but most scratch breads, rolls, etc have always failed. Thanks, I'm gonna have to try these. Thinking my baking powder and soda could be the problems in all cases.
  3. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Thanks, Ive. I, too will try this out. How's the recovery coming along?
  4. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    Jerry, my grandmother also used lard-she made it herself. And she also made her own butter. She cut the lard into the dry mix with 2 table knives so as not to warm it too much. I'll never equal what she did in her primitive kitchen but I know she wouldn't be embarrassed to eat my best efforts at biscuit making. I made this very recipe this morning and cut the biscuits with the cutter she used when she was first married back in the 1890's. Today's batch were just perfect-slightly crisp and golden outside and melt in your mouth tender inside. I'm not sure I can do any better. What I didn't eat this morning will find their way into strawberry shortcake later today.

    The honey I am currently using is from the Dakotas where they are supposed to have the best clover fields on earth. The second you smell it you know it is the real thing, incredibly aromatic and delicious .

    I hope you guys try and like this recipe. Just remember to keep human contact with the dough to a bare minimum hence the advice on just a few pulses in a processor. If you don't have a processor cut the butter in with a hand pastry blender then mix in the buttermilk with a spoon. Handle the dough as delicately as possible for maximum tenderness.

    Jim, my recovery is coming along well. The Physical Therapist is whipping my ass and she's proud of it. I have been busy building furniture for the canopy of my new truck. Soon it will be better outfitted than the old one and I hope to leave here the morning of Sept 18 on a modest fishing trip to check out the arm and the new rig. I am pee my pants excited to get this project done and go try out the arm and my new fly rods. It won't be long now.

  5. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Great news, Ive! Take extra pants on the 18th, lol . . .
  6. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    I'm way ahead of ya' bud-I just ordered a new Little Buddy heater for the Crusin' Casa!:)
  7. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    You're a prudent man . . .
  8. splett

    splett Member

    Been using same recipe for years.What is new is this whole keeping ingrediants cold before baking.I just work it to gether loosly with my hands.What is the science?
  9. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    The science is knowledge IMHO. Just not put down on paper as "fact". Funny mentioning cold. Both Grandma's and my Mom chill a lot of their dough. Just with some people, the science is having the ingredients and the routine written down whereas a lot of our parents/grandparents just knew how to do the concoction by memory. Was routine enough to just do it.

    Ive, I unfortunately had a Grandma who believed boys didn't bake. They cooked, but didn't bake. That was a woman's job. Mind you, my Grandma would've been my Great Grandma (almost my Great Great Grandma actually) on my Mom's side of the family. Family was huge and spread out on my Dad's side. Youngest of 8 boys, who weren't born back to back to back. Spread out like 2-3 years apart. So she was very old fashioned. Similar to your Mom, she did a lot of stuff herself. Mind you though, she didn't do the butter. But did the lard. They were part of a Co op in their part of Nebraska. My Great Grandfather build the water mill that process the wheat into flour. So there was a lot of trading. I do know they pretty much traded feeder corn for beef, flour for pork (which in turn gave them the pig fat they rendered into lard), etc. But back then (late 1800's/early 1900's) they were on their own in that part of Nebraska. I do remember my Dad telling stories about being a kid (this was early 40's, he was the baby of the 8) and there was a special treat my Grandma always made every snow day. She always made homemade bread (My Grandpa never ate store bread until she passed away in the mid 1970's). Then she'd make pudding from scratch (pre Jello mind you). She'd used Knox blox or home made gelatin, warm it up, then add hershey bars to it (and not sure what else) to make chocolate pudding. Then they'd put fresh butter on the warm bread and dip it into the chocolate pudding. I still do this traditionally to this day. In fact, used to be a treat my Dad would always make midweek of our salmon camp.

    Sorry, ran rampant on that one. Just wish my Grandma would let the boys sit in on the baking. I was almost too little when she passed. But know even my Dad would've loved to learn to make her rolls. They were phenominal.
    speyfisher likes this.
  10. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

    This is becomeing a sad reality of life in the U.S. Today. Old family traditions & recipes are being lost because the kids don't care or have the " we don't buy what we can make or do for our selfs" additude our grandparents had. My dad wouldn't pay to have the house roofed or tires mounted, if we could do it and save a buck we did. I hated the extra work as a kid but later in life I've been glad many times to have the skill set I was forced to learn as a kid..
  11. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Those are damn good, Ive (and I blew my pre-bird-season diet, only with Huckleberry Honey from the homeland.). But, I still thank you!
  12. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    UGH, sorry. I think I read it wrong. Science of mixing without using your hands I think you were saying. I know for biscuits, the cold butter will make the biscuits flakier. At least from personal experience. Think if you use room temp butter you get those harder, smaller biscuits instead of the fluffier/flakier ones. I know my Grandma never mixed by hand either. She used a wooden spoon (was one that looked more like a pan scraper, was fatter on one end and tapered out to a flat edge like a knife). She'd cut the butter in that way. Hard to descripe, never seen a wooden spoon like it since. Hell, my Grandpa could've made it for her.
  13. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    My Grandma use a similar wooden spoon, Jerry both on biscuit dough and my butt (and at five-foot-nothing, she was a) effective, and b) deadly-accurate. I deserved every swat I ever got . . . but the biscuits were divine. As was the povitica (still have the recipe I charmed out of her. Recipes back in the day weren't written-down; they were just "known." Maybe Grandma felt bad when she dictated it to me, God Bless her (in Yugoslavian no less, lol, but I understood enough to capture it, thank God.).
  14. Steve Call

    Steve Call Active Member

    Great thread Ive! My grandmother was a great cook. Born in 1888 I think, in Nebraska. Lived to be 96. Raised my Dad in Lewiston, ID. I have vivid memories of great bread, biscuits, and pies. Unfortunately, my mom wasn't much of a cook. I cook, but don't bake. But this thread brought back some great memories. Thanks and glad your recovery is going well.
  15. Preston

    Preston Active Member

    Sounds like you might be describing the Scottish "spirtle" (imagine that being pronounced spear'-tl, with a slightly rolled "r"). It was originally developed for cooking oatmeal.
  16. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    Preston, I believe you are describing a spurtle, not a "spirtle". I have spurtles and they are cool tools.
  17. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    Not sure what they're called. I do know they still make them. Saw them the other day at the store in a pack of wooden spoons.