Recipe Week: Buttermilk Biscuits

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Campus columnist Keerthi has yet another yummy recipe for you to try making yourself.

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It’s been a rough month. We’re making biscuits. Grab an apron, first, because you’re already underestimating the havoc that this flour will wreak. That’s 300g of flour, whisked together with a tablespoon each of sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add a hefty pinch of salt, ¾ tsp baking soda (yes, it’s different, no, you can’t just substitute one for the other, I promise I’m speaking from personal experience.) This is also the stage where you can throw in that really sad lone rosemary sprig in the back of your fridge, or any other fresh herb you’d like, diced fine and tossed in with the flour.

Combine and let it hang out while you cube 125g of butter--that’s half a standard butter block, so you don’t even need a scale for this part--and then drop it into your flour mixture. Smush each butter cube between your fingers and incorporate it into the flour until it kind of looks like couscous; this’ll take a while, but it’ll be incredibly therapeutic. Bonus points for all of these steps if you’ve got a 9am lecture going on in the background, even more bonus points if you work up the bravery to keep your camera on and calmly inform your professor that you’re making breakfast. You’re a braver man than I.

Once you’ve reached couscous stage, shake up your buttermilk carton and pour 175ml of it into the bowl. Reach your hands in and bring it together. Most biscuit recipes warn against overworking the dough, but you can afford to be a little firm with this one; if there are a ton of floury crumbs flying everywhere, you haven’t kneaded it enough. Once it’s a mostly-cohesive ball, roll it out into a rectangle on a well-floured counter (or chopping board, for the student-kitchen-bakers among us--you don’t know what’s touched that counter.)

Now, for the crucial part: grab a sharp knife, and divide your dough into four rectangles. Stack each one on top of the other, and roll out again. Now you’ve got four times the layers, and your biscuits are ready to be cut out. Grab a cookie cutter, jar lid, or any other vaguely mould-like item and press into the dough, straight down--you won’t get as much lift if you twist them around. Once you’ve gotten as many shapes out of the dough as you can, you can reroll the scraps, but don’t do this more than once. Place your biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush them with milk (you can do this with the back of a spoon if you don’t have a pastry brush), and bake them for 13 minutes at 200C. I’d recommend watching them rise, for no reason other than that it’s fun and they get really tall, and it’s an excuse to sit still for nearly a quarter of an hour. I don’t have much of a story for you today, but promise me you’ll make these--they’ll make you feel a million times better, I promise.

P.S. You can make your own buttermilk by adding two tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of whole milk and letting it sit for 5min. Measure out the 175ml you need, and either discard the rest or use it to make even more buttermilk -- maybe for pancakes!

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