October 15, 2009
Beginning the biscuit quest.

biscuits-3

Seeing as I am from the south and love to bake, you’d assume that I’d have an awesome biscuit recipe that is flaky, delicious and full of win. And you would be wrong.

Although I am from Georgia, and have lived here my entire life, I have learned precious little about southern cooking. My family was displaced from California and my grandmother took great pains to not learn recipes from the lowly southern folk. I had a childhood devoid of confections such as cobbler, and events such as potlucks.

Most of the time, not knowing the first thing about southern cooking doesn’t bother me, as I know it’s basically just an excuse to deep fry things and fill then with lard. However, I really really like biscuits and gravy and have a burning desire to know how to cook this dish.

I’m focusing on the biscuits first, as I’ve tried to make milk gravy (also known as sausage gravy or white gravy depending on your locale) and failed miserably. I thought I’d have more luck with biscuits and that culinary win would keep me from falling into despair as I spend my Saturdays scraping clumpy gravy into the garbage.

When I think of terribly healthy southern cooking, I think of Paula Deen. I figured my search to find an authentic southern biscuit recipe should begin with her. I found this recipe from The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and thought that it sounded promising, although it yields between 2 and 3 dozen biscuits and that’s insane.

Paula Deen’s Basic Biscuits

1/2 c water
1 package yeast
2 c buttermilk
3/4 c shortening
5 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder

Preheat the oven to 400. Heat the water to luke warm and dissolve the yeast to let it bloom. I’d recommend using a thermometer so you can be sure it’s between 100 and 110F, but the water is the right temperature if it feels slightly warm to your fingertip, and neutral to your wrist.

Mix all the dry ingredients (that’d be the flour, soda, salt, and powder) into the largest bowl you can find. Then cut in the shortening. I’d recommend using a pastry cutter as they make life so much better, but a fork works if you’re a glutton for punishment.

When the shortening is fully incorporated, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk and yeast. Beat until the batter becomes a sticky tragedy. You will now need to somehow roll this mass flat enough to cut with a biscuit cutter without adding additional flour. Obviously, you’ll need to flour your hands, the surface, and the rolling pin, but try to be as sparing as you can be. The biscuits will not rise well if you incorporate too much additional flour in at this stage. Do not make my mistake.

After the biscuits are cut and placed into greased pans, I’d recommend letting them sit for a few minutes to rise a bit before popping them into the oven for 10-12 mins.

Overall, this is a decent biscuit recipe. Mine came out a little bready, but I also made the mistake of incorporating too much flour. In a month when this batch is finally eaten, I’m planning on giving it another try with less flour. I’d like more flake and moisture overall, and i think the overabundance of flour is what killed me this time.

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4 Responses to “Beginning the biscuit quest.”

  1. Argent says:

    My mother, a true southern cook through and through, had several biscuit recipes, but she always defaulted back to the standard Bisquick biscuit. And she did so with reason – try them, you'll see what I mean.

    The only place they failboat is where you need something more bread-like texture wise, as Bisquick biscuits are very crumbly.

    • fuzzdecay says:

      I've used bisquick and they do make a very tasty biscuit. I'd really like to find something that will be as good with minimal processing. I've yet to get a good biscuit out of my attempts. :(

  2. Dorothy says:

    I have made biscuits with Bisquick many times and they have always risen. Today I
    made them and they were flat as hockey pucks! What may have happened? Should I
    have added some baking powder? I keep the mix in the fridge.

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