A wooden spoon is helpful, but not necessary (except for beating)

Are y’all ready to learn how exciting my life is? Are you sitting on the edge of your seat to find out what crazy adventures I got into this weekend? Did I hunt Zebras in Namibia? Did I track down the lost gospel of the Bible, written by Jesus’ best friend, LeeRoy? Did I help Stephen Hawking with a soduko puzzle (he’s really bad at those! He’s always calling me and asking if I’ve finished mine yet, so he can steal my answers)?

Oh no, I made biscuits! From-scratch-handmade biscuits. On a Friday night.

God, I’m a loser. I blame this on my boyfriend, who lives 900 miles away and therefore cannot take me to see “hurricane on the bayou” on IMAX. Damn his eyes!

But biscuits!!

Do you want to know how I made them? Better yet, do you want to see how I made them? Well, I don’t really care what you want! I’m doing it no matter what. And I know that biscuits are one of those things that seems SO IMPRESSIVE and SO LAVISH, but seriously? They are criminally easy to make. Let’s try, shall we?

Fabulous Biscuits (adapted from a Hominy Grill recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading/dusting (You need to use a southern biscuit flour, like White Lily – which is what I used – or cake flour.  It’s what makes them all light and fluffy)
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder (and make sure this is fresh-ish.  Did y’all know baking powder only lasts about 6 months?  I just learned this.  If it is older than that, it is probably inactive, and you will end up with very tasty hockey pucks)
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter (and I mean real butter here.  If you use margarine, I will know, and God help you.  I will come to where ever you live and beat you within an inch of your life with a wooden spoon.)
  • 5 Tablespoons shortening (I know, I know.  It makes you a little squeamish doesn’t it?  But listen, I am actually doing you a favor, because the recipe actually calls for the use of pure, unadulterated lard, for heaven’s sake! [I couldn’t actually bring myself to buy lard, so this is where my mad adapting skills come in] A little Crisco isn’t going to kill you.) (And for the sake of honesty and full disclosure, I just realized, as I was writing this, that I actually misread the recipe when I was making these and only used 3 Tablespoons of shortening.  I’m not sure why.  But they were still quite delicious.  Now I’m going to have to make a whole ‘nother batch just to see how much of a difference it makes.  Damn!)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk (you could probably use regular milk, but if you do, please use whole milk.  You cannot effectively bake with skim milk.  Don’t even try it.  But seriously, the buttermilk is soooooo goooood.)
  • An oven preheated to 425F (I always forget this part, so I put temperatures in the ingredients section)

Step 1: Have your mom give you some awesome prep bowls from Williams-Sonoma, so you feel like a real chef! Seriously, y’all, confidence is everything here. (Thanks Mom!  Look!  I’m using them!)

 

Step 2: Sift together your dry ingredients (for those of you who don’t cook much, thats all the stuff that doesn’t leave a bunch of yucky residue in your bowls. In fact, you don’t even really have to wash them. But you didn’t hear that from me.) (Also, notice I’m not using one of those damn sifters where you turn the crank or something. Those suck. Just get one of the strainers. They are quicker and much easier to clean. And you can handle a lot more flour this way)

Step 3: Cut in butter and shortening. (OK, “cutting” is much easier than it seems. You can buy these nifty little tools called “pastry cutters” which are perfect for this job, of you can be a cheapo like me [except that I actually have one, I just can’t find it ANYWHERE. GAH!] and just use a fork. Just mush the butter against the side of the bowl and break it up as much as you can. Basically all you are doing here is cutting the butter and shortening into tiny little pieces which will get covered in flour. This is what give biscuits their flaky texture.)

It’s like a big, fluffy flour pillow.

 

Step 4: One you get your fats cut in, get in there with your hands and make sure you haven’t missed any big chunks.

 

You want your flour mixture to look like very coarse meal. Like so:

 

 

And look, this is no time to be squeamish! You will get dirty. Enjoy it.

 

Step 5: SLOWLY add your buttermilk. Don’t just slosh it all in at once. Biscuits don’t like it rough.

 

Step 6: Mix! (Now doesn’t that sound deceptively easy? If you’ve ever tried to make biscuits before and they turned out badly, this is probably where you messed up. You need to mix them gently and not very much. Overworking will kill your biscuits. It will KILL THEM DEAD. They will be tough and flat and very, very angry. They may just kill you in your sleep. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The trick is to mix the dough so that it is just barely coming together, where it is all incorporated but there are still little areas of wet and little areas of dry.)

 

Step 7: Once your dough is just mixed, you want to turn it out of the bowl. Lightly flour a good, flat surface (I usually put wax paper down, because if I didn’t do that, there would be flour on the counter for the rest of my life. I’m uh…HORRIBLE at cleaning.) and then just dump your dough out. It will be very gooey and difficult to handle. Which is fine, because you don’t really want to handle it. Cover your hands with flour, and give it a few light kneads, just to pull everything together. Then pat it down to 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.

And why yes, I am doing this on top of my WASHING MACHINE because I have no counter space in my kitchen. Seriously none. I improvise.

 

Step 8: Cut your dough. (Here’s another trick to make sure your biscuits rise- use a sharp dough cutter. I used to always use glasses or aluminum cans, but the sides aren’t sharp enough. Go out a buy a real biscuit cutter. You’ll be amazed at the difference.)

After you make your first round of cuts, push all the extra dough together lightly and try to get a few more biscuits out of it. These probably won’t looks as pretty, but I promise they will still taste really, really good.

 

Step 9: Put them on an ungreased baking sheet and toss them in the oven.  Let them bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Mine cooked for exactly 12 1/2 minutes.

(But Taylor! Now I have 12 1/2 minutes. What should I do with myself?)

Some people would tell you to clean up the kitchen in this moment, so the dishes won’t sit there and get all hard and crusty. They are liars. You are much too pretty to be cleaning. Here’s what you should do instead:

1. Have your roommate make fun of you for being the messiest person in the world. You will now be covered with flour. Observe:

(and I would just like to point out that thing hanging on the baking rack just over my left shoulder. What is that? Oh yeah, a FUCKING APRON, MORON. If you have one of those, and you aren’t supremely stupid like I am, wear it. Otherwise:

I don’t know how it got there, your guess is as good as mine.

or, Option #2:

It was Friday, after all.

AND THEN!

Step 10: Congratulate yourself for being fabulous, and eat you some damn biscuits.

Mmmmm…biscuity goodness. Doesn’t this make you hungry?

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7 responses to this post.

  1. your biscuits look so delicious and so southern! i love a girl who bakes on a friday evening, especially when wine is involved.

    i was going to ask if that was your washing machine, that is hilarious.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Chuck Boyd on May 17, 2007 at 11:30 am

    WARNING! If you have a front-loading washing machine that spins at about 10,000 RPMs at the end of the cycle and it is running as you do this, the vibration will toss your biscuits – and anything else sitting on top – onto the floor.

    However, this type of washer IS a good source for mixing a pitcher of martinis (hold on tightly to the cocktail shaker though).

    This is a kitchen safety tip.

    Reply

  3. YUMMMY!!! But can I give you a secret that my 83 year old VERY SOUTHERN Mom passed on to me? Pillsbury now has a frozen package of biscuits that taste EXACTLY like homemade! No kidding… they are DELICIOUS!!! But every Southerner needs to go through the process of making biscuits from scratch!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Sandrita on May 17, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Okay, that’s it! I’m stopping by KFC on my way home–their biscuits might not be Taylor-made but they are still damn good!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Ezra on May 17, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Your blog has introduced me to so many new aspects of Taylor. I knew your parents had a boat, but didn’t know it was a sailboat. And I had no idea how much you like sailing. And cooking? Really? I had no idea. We have the same set of mixing bowls in all different sizes. Get married before you are thirty, and people will buy you everything you could ever need in the kitchen. (Including a Williams-Sonoma battery powered pepper mill and automatic soap dispenser. Both of which are ridiculous and fantastic.) If you wait longer than that people will assume you already have everything, and you will get towels. F that.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Elizabeth on May 18, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Sad to say that I too stay t home Friday nights making biscuits. And I don’t even have the excuse that my boyfriend is 900 miles away. I just don’t have one. and OH!! I want to see Hurricane on the Bayou too!!

    Reply

  7. Posted by Teresa on May 18, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Oooooh!…wow, you just reminded me that I haven’t made biscuits *at all* since I moved into my new apartment (must be because this fridge actually has enough room TO HOLD REAL FOOD, so I don’t have to subsist for entire days on just homemade baked goods–I know, real rough, huh? :-P) And I’m moving again in a week, so there may never be any real baking in this apartment. *tear*
    And seriously, can someone explain to me why on earth I love to make biscuits? I’m not Southern, no one in my family is Southern (they’re all born in raised in California!)…in fact, the farthest South I’ve ever been was Richmond, VA! 😀

    Reply

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