Friday, April 25, 2008

Biscuits for Beginners

I'm not really in a talkative mood today, been feeling very tired recently due to being ill and creating a delicious (but multi-stepped) dessert for some house guests that my mom and stepfather are having over this Sunday, and I'm in a mopey mood now that Andrew's off in Ottawa for a long-weekend grad party (though I am glad you went, honey!). So, I figure that I'll just pass along this pre-typed, nicely formatted lesson-style recipe that I have had tucked in my back pocket for a while after writing it to help out a fellow baker who was slightly nervous about biscuit making and baking in general. It's written for children, which I did on purpose, because I intend to pass it on to the Home Ec class at my old elementary school and keep the delicious tradition that is the buttermilk biscuit alive. Enjoy!

Beginner's Biscuits
Makes 20
Don't sell yourself short on your cooking abilities, even if you’ve never made Tea Biscuits before... if you have access to a few ingredients as a base (and I mean literally 5 ingredients), a working oven, a bowl and a cookie sheet these biscuits will be fine. I learned these when I was young, straight from the book, without my mom's help (only my dad was home, and he doesn't bake all that much!), and they're hard to destroy unless you forget one of the 5 ingredients. You don't even have to grease the sheets! They even freeze well, which is good because this recipe makes about 20 biscuits. Just remember that the measurements are important (including the oven temperature), so do make sure they are correct. Also, give yourself lots of time and relax! This should be enjoyable... and you will get your hands dirty. No getting around that!

OK so first things first - your equipment. You will need:
  • 1 big mixing bowl
  • 1 half-cup measuring cup
  • 1 full-cup measuring cup
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 mixing spoon
  • 1 rolling pin
  • 1 large-mouthed drinking glass or round cookie cutter
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • 1 oven
  • oven mitts
  • 1 wire cooling rack
  • hungry people!

Get all this out first. Make sure you have everything!
Now, preheat your oven by turning it on to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 220 degrees Celsius.
Get out all your ingredients now (if you like, measure them all into separate bowls, but that means more dishes). They are:

  • 4 cups of plain, white flour (not self rising)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (bi carb)
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (AKA Crisco)
  • 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
  1. Using your mixing spoon, blend the flour, the baking powder, and the baking soda together in the big bowl.
  2. Dump in the shortening.
  3. Now, using your fingers, work the shortening into the dry ingredients. The goal is to get the shortening into about the size of small green peas, and to have all those bits covered in the flour blend. It will look like a fine gravel, but don't work it to a paste. Good photos are here.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Pour the buttermilk right into the shortening and flour mixture.
  6. Now, using your mixing spoon, stir the buttermilk into the mixture, but just until a soft dough comes together. Don't beat it, you just want everything to come together.
  7. Take some extra flour and sprinkle it on your countertop.
  8. Dump out the biscuit dough and make sure everything is in one lump (you can knead it a bit to work in the last of the flour from the bowl).
  9. Using your rolling pin, roll out the dough so that it's about 1" (2 cm) high, and even all the way through (make sure you're not squishing down the edges).
  10. Take the glass or the cookie cutter and cut out as many circles from the dough as you can at one time.
  11. Move the dough circles to the cookie sheets, about a finger space between them.
  12. Squish the dough bits together back into one piece and roll it out again like you did before.
  13. Depending on how much dough is left, either cut out more circles or divide it in 2-3 equal pieces about the size of the circles you cut before.
  14. Put those on the cookie sheets too.
  15. Put the sheets in the hot oven. Set your timer for 12 minutes.
  16. When the timer rings, take the sheets out of the oven and carefully move all the hot biscuits to the wire rack.
  17. Let them cool about 10 minutes before taking a bite of your handiwork!
  18. If you need to freeze them for later, make sure they are cooled completely (at least 2 hours). Place them all into a Ziploc bag and freeze them. They will reheat in about 30 seconds in the microwave.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 142.4
Total Fat: 5.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.7 mg
Sodium: 19.8 mg
Total Carbs: 20.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 3.2 g