Saturday, June 13, 2009

Alton Brown: Southern Biscuits

This whole week in New Jersey has been raining and miserable, which seems to be a pretty accurate reflection of my job and life at the moment, so I really needed something amazing and homey and rich and flaky and warm to make me feel like it was really going to be okay. What I needed were biscuits. Not just any biscuits. Light as air, soft as silk, and tender at the heart. I am what I eat.

Southern Biscuits
Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown and his grandmother Ma Mae

1½ cups all-purpose flour*
½ cup cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
2 tablespoons lard or Crisco shortening, chilled
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter and lard until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Pour in buttermilk, and stir with a spoon until just mixed.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and pat with floured hands just until dough comes together. Handle the dough as little as possible. Pat into a 1-inch high round, and use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut straight down, then twist slightly to pop the biscuit round loose of the surrounding dough. Combine scraps, repat into a round, and cut additional biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a thick aluminum baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat to avoid burning the bottoms. Arrange in rows, with biscuits just touching. Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

*If you're lucky enough to have a source for White Lily flour, you can use 2 cups of it and eliminate the cake flour.

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