Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Touch of Grace Biscuits

I've made a lot of biscuits. I've added flavors, cut them into rounds or squares or other shapes. I've baked them squished together and I've baked them spaced apart.

But I've never baked biscuits like this before.

This recipe is from Food52 Genius Recipes, and was created by Shirley Corriher. You might know her as the cooking expert who sometimes appeared on Good Eats. She really is a cooking expert, so I felt confident the recipe would work, even though it's pretty strange.

I've made some biscuit recipes where the dough was pretty wet. But this dough is much wetter than any of those. The book describes the dough as looking like cottage cheese, and that's exactly what it's like - lumpy bits with a thinner "sauce."

But it totally works. Totally. And not only does it work, but the biscuits are amazingly good. Not only were they good, but they were good the next day, and the day after that. Most biscuits get stale pretty quickly, but these stayed good for a few days - which was all the time it took them to disappear. They were particularly amazing when I heated them for a few seconds in the microwave.

Yup. Biscuits re-warmed in the microwave.

I've made these biscuits three times so far, and the first two times I didn't have exactly the ingredients I needed, but they held up well to the adaptations.

The first time, I didn't have the required buttermilk, so I substituted milk mixed with Greek yogurt. The biscuits were delicious.

The second time, I didn't have enough heavy cream - and I still didn't have buttermilk. And I was out of yogurt that I used in the first substitution, So I substituted milk for the missing cream, and I substituted milk mixed with sour cream for the buttermilk. The biscuits worked out perfectly.

I highly recommend this recipe. And I urge you to NOT be worried about how wet the dough is.

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits
Adapted from Food52 Genius Recipes
Recipe by Shirley Corriher

2 cups (9 ounces) self-rising flour
2 tablespoons* sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk (or enough for the dough to resemble cottage cheese - you might need more or less, depending on the flour you use.)
1 cup all purpose flour, for shaping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing

Heat the oven to 425 degrees with the right slightly below the center of the oven. Spray an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray. You could also use butter, but I always have that spray on hand because it's always so handy to have.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingertips until you don't have any large lumps. Don't get carried away.

Gently stir in the cream, then add the buttermilk until the dough resembles cottage cheese - you might need more or less than 1 cup, depending on the flour you use.

Put the all-purpose flour in a plate, shallow bowl, or pie plate. You don't want to use self-rising flour here, or it will be bitter. Use a medium ice cream scoop (about 2 inches in diameter) start portioning the dough and plopping them into the flour. You can make one at a time, or do 2 or 3, as long as you have space to keep them well separated in the flour.

Sprinkle flour on top of the blobs, then flour your hands and grab a blob and gently shape it into a ball, shaking off extra flour as you go. as you finish each biscuit, place it in the prepared pan, scrunched up next to its neighbors. Continue shaping and placing the biscuits until they're all in the pan.

Bake at 425 degrees until they are lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Brush with the melted butter.

Turn the biscuits out onto a plate, then flip again so they're right-side up on another plate. Cut along the seams to separate the biscuits before serving - they don't really pull apart.

*The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar, but I didn't want them that sweet, so cut back a bit.

About the book: I've cooked a number of recipes from this book, including Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar, Potato Scallion Cakes, Spiced Red Wine, Caesar Salad Dressing, Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic, Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Cooked Forever, and Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese.

Out of all of those, the only one I might not make again is the Chickpea Stew. Or, more accurately, I might make it again, but unlike other recipes that I might tweak a little, I might tweak that one a lot.

Although I like chickpeas, I didn't like them in the soup. But I might make the broth again with something like carrots. Someone else might love it as-is. It wasn't bad in any sense, it just wasn't my taste.

The Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar tasted really good, and I might add a splash of vinegar to eggs next time I fry them. As the recipe said, the vinegar cuts the richness of the yolks. My only small quibble with the recipe was that the red of the wine vinegar wasn't hugely appealing. Next time, I might use a white wine vinegar, or perhaps just ass a splash of balsamic. But that's not really a critique of the recipe itself. Just a personal quirk.

But hey, don't we all tweak recipes when we make them. The difference about the recipes in this book is that they really are different from other recipes of their sort. I don't think I've ever seen a recipe that suggested putting vinegar on eggs, and for sure I've never seen a biscuit dough as wet as this. The Broccoli Cooked Forever was also way different from usual.

And then there are recipes we're probably familiar with, like Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce and Jim Lahey's no-knead bread. We know them now, but they were certainly unique with the first showed up.

What I'm trying to say is that pretty much every recipe was a winner, and I've got more recipes that I want to make in the book. The book is a real winner.