biscuit tower.

I know — I’ve been in serious biscuit mode lately. I kind of adore them.

Who wouldn’t, though? They’re fluffy, buttery and very adept at becoming something else, like a sandwich or a jam/jelly holder. Sometimes they make great pie doughs or cobblers.

cutting the biscuits.

biscuit dough.

Sometimes they just make my belly full. And that’s fine with me.

After coming home from a week-long vacation in Florida with the family, I was ready for a little R&R (you know, a vacation from vacation), some fall weather and some warm, fluffy biscuits. I found this recipe for baking powder biscuits on the back of my Rumford Baking Powder, tweaked it a bit, and the rest is history.

savory wheat biscuits.

I don’t own a fancy contraption like a biscuit cutter, so I used the rim of a glass and that worked just as well to shape the biscuits. They are a little smaller in diameter than I would’ve liked, however, so I think next time I’ll use a wider-rimmed object. But there was nothing wrong with smallish biscuits. Just more biscuits to go around, then.

mmm. biscuits & butter.

Mostly for me.

Debrief: Nothing much. Just as mentioned above, if you want bigger biscuits, use a wider biscuit cutter. Otherwise, this dough is a dream to work with, and very easy to adapt to whatever your biscuit craving. Herbs? Great. Cheese? Sure. Anchovies? Eh, weird, but whatever. These babies can probably handle it.

Baking Powder Biscuits
Adapted from the recipe found on the back of my Rumford Baking Powder container

Yields 8 to 12 biscuits

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Italian seasoning herbs or dried parsley, to taste (I used about 2 tsp)
6 tbsp chilled butter or shortening, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2/3 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flours, baking powder, salt and herbs. Cut in butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add milk and mix until dough is soft and starts to pull away from the sides. Pour out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds. Roll out dough, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to a 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter and place on baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly brown; serve warm.

2

apple cobbler, numero dos.

I have to apologize for these photos. I know, they’re terrible. Let me reassure you though; I have plenty of excuses.

reading.

One: I was watching Glee while making this cobbler. It was the Britney Spears episode. My eyes were glued. It’s understandable, right? Right.

butter.

Two: It was nighttime. Duh. And I had a random, overpowering hankering for apple cobbler (mostly because I just worked out and had a raging appetite/sweet tooth attack, and we had about five pounds’ worth of fresh apples from the orchard that were begging to be covered in buttery goodness).

apples.

Three: I was so impatient to eat the cobbler/biscuit combination that the last thing I wanted to do was pause to take photos. But I didn’t want to be selfish and not share this with you, so… all that to say, this cobbler tastes loads better than it looks.

fluffy biscuit dough.

My week has been a lot like this. Hectic, erratic, speckled with cobbler and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Peanut Butter Cup, oh my) and buttery monkey bread and a cruel apple pie that I can look at forever but can’t eat until Thanksgiving. Hmph.

apple cobbler.

So, I apologize for you having to see the results of my craziness. But hey, at least I shared, right? Right.

Debrief: If using apples for this recipe (you can use 3 cups of any cobbler-appropriate fruit), make sure to use tart apples, like Granny Smith or McIntosh. I accidentally added in a Gala, and it was mushy and overly sweet.

Apple Cobbler (with a Fluffy Biscuits foundation)
Courtesy of The Joy of Cooking

Yields one 8×8-inch pan of cobbler

Ingredients:
3 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 the recipe for Fluffy Biscuits (below)
2 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Turn on the TV; it’s Glee time. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Sit for five minutes watching Glee and wishing that Mr. Schuster would just let the kids sing Britney Spears! In a medium saucepan, heat apples, sugar and flour until boiling. Do not walk away from the kitchen at this point just because you hear “I’m a Slave 4 U.” Have ready half the recipe for Fluffy Biscuit Dough (below). Spread the dough on the bottom of a greased 8×8-inch square pan and cover closely with the hot fruit. Take a second to watch Glee cover another Britney song. Dot the fruit with the butter and sprinkle the cinnamon over the cobbler. Bake about a half hour. At this point, get a good chunk of Glee-watching in (though the Britney cameos could have been omitted, in my opinion. Just saying). Then, watch the sex riot ensue while enjoying a hefty plateful of this amazing cobbler. Repeat next week.

Fluffy Biscuit Dough recipe

Yields 24 1 1/2-inch biscuits (if just making biscuits) or 12 1 1/2-inch biscuits (if using the other half for the cobbler)

**Note: I didn’t make these biscuits this time. See above, Glee watching. Thus the lack of biscuit photos. Sorry, ya’ll. Next time.

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp double-acting baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
4 to 6 tbsp chilled butter or shortening, or a combo of both
3/4 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Add butter and make a well in the center. Add milk and stir until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead quickly, in about 8 to 10 folds. Roll out with a floured rolling pin to a desired thickness, and cut with a biscuit cutter dipped in flour. Brush the tops with milk or melted butter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2

buttermilk parsley biscuit pie crust.

Nothing like making a confusing title, huh? Sorry about that. I just didn’t want to leave anyone out.

slicing tomatoes.

buttermilk parsley biscuit crust.

This here post is a little different. You see, I was making a tomato pie from this Web site the other day, and thought, “Hey! I like the sound of this pie crust recipe!” As it turns out, the pie crust isn’t naturally a pie crust at all, but Buttermilk Parsley Biscuits masquerading as pie crust.

tomatoes in the pie.

tomato pie, pre-bake.

So really, it’s a bread that served as a pie crust that served as the bottom of our delicious dinner. If that makes sense.

tomato pie.

I have to say, the crust was probably the best part of this whole party of food. (Of course, mayo and cheddar cheese baked to a browned, gooey finish isn’t so bad either. And neither are the homegrown heirloom tomatoes hiding underneath. But even then, the crust steals the show.) It’s thick and fluffy, unlike normal pie crusts that are often thin and crunchy and rather boring. The savoriness of the parsley/oregano/basil mixture combined with flakes of sweet butter made the dough taste even more wonderful. And with juicy, ripe tomatoes from my mother’s now-rampant garden, it was a meal to die for.

slice o' tomato pie.

So long as there’s tomato pie in heaven.

Debrief: As far as the pie crust/parsley biscuit dough goes, I don’t have much to say. It did its job well. As far as the tomato pie itself, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mayo (and in fact only used 1/2 cup of the 1 1/2 cups it originally calls for). I might use something less overpowering and fattening, like yogurt or low-fat sour cream, in place of the mayo next time I make this bad boy. We also only needed four large tomatoes for the whole pie, not five or even six as the recipe indicates.

Tomato Pie Crust/Buttermilk Parsley Biscuits

Courtesy of Ruth Reichl

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
A “flurry” of chopped parsley (or Italian seasoning, as I used)
3/4 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl fixed with the paddle attachment. Add in cold butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Add the parsley and buttermilk and mix until dough pulls completely from the sides. Pour dough onto counter and knead for a couple minutes, then press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

James Beard’s Tomato Pie

Courtesy of Ruth Reichl

4 to 6 thickly-sliced ripe tomatoes
Sprinkling of salt
Sprinkling of pepper
Sprinkling of shredded basil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or 1 1/2 cups, as original recipe suggests)

Cover the biscuit dough with tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Mix cheddar and mayo together and spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Stuff into face.

12

parker house rolls.

Gosh, I know, I know, it’s been a while.

I’m sorry.

I have so much to tell you. I could tell you about one of my dearest friend’s weddings I was in a few weeks ago (oh, I already told you about that?). I could also tell you about going to the county fair and seeing the OMG-adorable piglets and yummy funnel cake (or you could just take a gander for yourself). I could also tell you that my wrists have decided to go numb randomly and feel tingly, and how my very sympathetic, physician-assistant-studying husband comforted me by telling me I might. Have. Carpal. Tunnel.

What.

But I won’t tell you about that.

yeast.buttah.
foamy.shaggy dough.

What I will tell you about are these amazing rolls I made last night. Finally, after a long couple of weeks of running to this, that and the other thing (which, unfortunately, is still not done, but I just couldn’t hold out on you any longer!) I was able to find a few hours in my schedule to make these rolls. I found them on Joy The Baker (naturally) the other day and knew they had to be made — mostly because she mentions wearing an apron and “Mad Men,” and I’ve been pining for/watching both lately.

bench scraper, holla!

parker house rolls, pre-oven.

While making these rolls, however, I discovered that I really didn’t have as much flour left in the apartment as I thought, so after scooping out the very last smidgens of bread flour and all-purpose flour and even whole wheat flour I had around, I officially ran out of flour. I would be shocked that I, one who bakes bread often, let my kitchen go without a speck of flour, but then again, it’s been one of those weeks. All this to say that my dough was slightly stickier than I would have liked, but no less workable in the long run.

parker house rolls, close up.

These rolls definitely evoke that 1950s housewife where’s-my-lung-blackening-cigarette-and-old-fashioned-on-the-rocks kind of feeling, and suddenly you think you should be donning pearls and curling your hair and putting on bright red lipstick and walking around in heels in the kitchen. Yeah, that won’t happen. But it sure is a nice thought (minus the cigarette, ick).

Debrief: Um, I don’t know, just that these are insanely easy to make? Be careful when pulling apart the dough into 20 equal pieces — if you keep reworking it, your rolls will turn out bumpy like mine. But they’ll still taste just as good. And just make sure you have enough flour in your kitchen — but, like I said, it worked out anyway.

Parker House Rolls
Courtesy of Joy The Baker

Makes 20 rolls

Ingredients:

3 tbsp warm water
3 tbsp sugar, divided
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup milk
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4-1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together 1 tbsp sugar, yeast and warm water until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy.
Melt 3/4 of a stick of butter in a small saucepan. Add milk and heat until lukewarm. Pour mixture into a large bowl and add yeast mixture, remaining sugar, bread flour and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Add and stir in 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, and dump dough onto counter. Knead and keeping adding flour a tablespoon at a time until dough is smooth and just slightly sticky, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Divide dough into 20 pieces and roll into balls. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet and cover with a towel until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
When rolls are risen, use a floured chopstick or edge of a ruler to make a deep crease down the center of each roll. Let rolls rise, covered, about 15 more minutes.
Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and brush the tops of the rolls with the butter. Place rolls in the oven 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool rolls in the pan 5 minutes, then remove and serve warm.

4

yummy scones.

It’s dang hot outside.

Can I just say that? I know how we all love to talk about the weather (it is, after all, the most common — pause. My husband is rapping about scientific terms behind me. What a NERD. — topic of conversation among strangers). But we’re not strangers here, are we? I hope not.

But if you are a stranger, these scones will make us instant friends. I promise you that.

holy butter.the usual suspects.
golden raisins.caraway seeds.

I was searching for the perfect scone recipe the other day. I write perfect because, well, I’m mighty picky when it comes to my scones. I’m a scone snob, I admit it. I don’t like scones that are extra crumbly. Fact. I also dislike scones with sweet fruits in them, like raspberries or blueberries. Also a fact. I’m also partial to their shape — if they aren’t in triangle form, I may or may not turn up my nose in disapproval. They’re just not the same.

That being said, I took a bit of a gamble when I decided to make this recipe. I found it on the North Fork Table & Inn’s Web site by way of Smitten Kitchen by way of Whisk The Pantry. After all this adventure, I finally settled on what appeared to be an acceptable scone recipe — a triangular, sweet (but not too sweet!) and savory, less crumbly creation. But I was still skeptical.

slab o' scone.

scones pre-oven.

You see, I’m trying to find my way around the chemistry of baking. Like, how does bread rise (or not)? Or, how do you make your own ingredients from things you already have tucked away in the pantry? In this case, I’m learning that the more sugar you add to a recipe, the more cake-like it will become. Or at least I think so. Still haven’t aced this class yet.

golden raisin & caraway scones.

What is so absolutely perfect — yes, perfect — about this recipe is that it yields the most delicate balance between a flaky, buttery consistency and that loaf-like sponginess. Not too crumbly, but not too cakey. And with the genius combination of sweet, golden raisins and hearty caraway seeds, they go perfectly with a tall glass of iced tea on one dang hot summer day. But a perfect day, nonetheless.

Debrief: This recipe originally states that it yields 12 to 16 scones, but I got a little overzealous with the bench scraper and managed to cut around 20 triangles in all. It worked out — I had a lovely mix of mini scones and regular-sized ones. That said, take the “yield” with a grain of salt — you can make as many scones as you darn well please, thankyouverymuch.

Golden Raisin & Caraway Scones
Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen from North Fork Table & Inn

Yields 12 to 16 triangular scones (or, as said above, up to 24 miniature scones)

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cup pastry or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
6 oz. butter (about 1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 cup buttermilk (or just under a cup of regular milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice and refrigerated for 5 minutes)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put cubed butter in freezer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, place flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix, using paddle attachment, in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add butter to stand mixer bowl and mix until butter and flour mixture are the texture of coarse cornmeal. Add buttermilk, raisins and caraway seeds, mixing on the lowest speed until dough just comes together.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 2 minutes until dough mostly sticks together. Roll out dough using hands or a rolling pin, into a rectangle slab about 1 inch thick. Cut into squares, and then cut squares on a diagonal to form triangles.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Extra punches: If you are partial to a fruit scone, you can substitute 1 cup of any chopped fresh fruit for the raisins and caraway seeds, and use only 3/4 cup of buttermilk. If using fruit, also make sure you use aluminum-free baking powder, or your scones may result in a blueish tint and a slight tinny flavor.

3

cheddar bay biscuits a la red lobster.

As promised, mama’s back on her home turf. And it feels good to be home. No, I didn’t kiss the hypothetical ground of my blog, but I did celebrate. With lard.

holy butter.vegetable shortening. rad.
whoa, a little full!cheddah.

OK, not lard, literally, but essentially its relatives. Shortening, anyone? Cheddar cheese? Butter? You bet, baby — all three in one fluffy biscuit. Butter inside and butter on top. Gooey yellow cheddar and garlicky goodness. I’m not promoting a diet strictly of the biscuit kind, but you may want to cut out whatever else you were planning to eat today once you bite into one of these biscuits. Though you’ve had them before.

cheddar, shortening and buttah.

scoop n' dough.

“What do you mean, I’ve had them before?” you ask. Ever been to Red Lobster (if not, get thee out from under that rock!)? If you have, you’ve undoubtedly scarfed down a Cheddar Bay Biscuit (or two, or three… my my, save some room for your Admiral’s Feast!). I was planning to make a side dish to lasagna for a co-worker who’s recovering from surgery, and after sifting through the pages of my heap of Food Network magazines, I found this little copycat, gasped, and thought, “These must be made.” And the rest is history (as seen below).

biscuits pre-oven.

mmm. garlic butter and parsley.

The saddest part about this whole operation is, I don’t know what these taste like, as I was infantile enough to buy only enough ingredients for one batch. Which goes to said family. Leaving none for me. I guess that’s the point of doing someone a favor. Sigh. But not to worry, I’ll be making these for myself in no time, as they certainly smell and look delicious. And maybe you can let me know how they taste, too? Here’s hoping I don’t send off these pretty little numbers only to find they taste like lard. And only lard. What a pity that would be.

cheddar biscuits.

Debrief: Though I decided to keep it simple for the sake of sparing my co-worker and his family my crazy experimental adaptations of this recipe, I wouldn’t doubt switching out the parsley and cheddar for blue cheese and scallions tastes great (as shown in this variation). Also, as I am a sucker for whole-wheat flour, replacing half of the all-purpose flour for it might not be such a bad idea either.

Cheddar Biscuits
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Yields 12 to 14 biscuits

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable shortening, room temperature
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (plus more for greasing baking sheet)
1 1/4 cups grated yellow cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk (they suggest whole, I used 2 percent)

For the garlic butter:

3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with butter.
Make the biscuits: In a large food processor or stand mixer (as you can see my food processor wasn’t big enough, thus the switch to the stand mixer), pulse the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and pulse until combined. Add the butter; pulse 4 or 5 times, or until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times. Pour in the milk and pulse just until the mixture is moistened and forms a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a clean surface and gently knead until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.
Drop the dough onto the baking sheet in scant 1/4-cup portions (I used an ice cream scoop for this), 2 inches apart, and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the garlic butter: Melt the butter with the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Brush the biscuits with the garlic butter and serve warm.

Extra punches: Watch the biscuits carefully, checking every few minutes after 10 minutes in the oven to ensure they don’t burn. They can very easily go from golden brown to burnt in a short amount of time.

3