Biscuits…more like more biscuits

A while back, someone asked if I ever posted the recipes I use. I do sometimes, but most of the time, when I’m clicking pictures, it is on the fly in the kitchen while I’m actually doing an order, and I don’t have time to really do much more….but this morning I have a minute and want to chat about those biscuits down there.

Now, I’m a 51-year-old woman who grew up in the south and didn’t have a biscuit recipe until somewhat recently. Sure, I’d made biscuits over the years…and by biscuits, I mean pucks.

Pucks of bread that were certainly edible if you put enough butter and jelly on them…but also useful for chunking and holding paper down in a high wind.
To be fair, knowing what I know now, their density and allaround ugliness, had nothing to do with the recipe and everything to do with HOW I was making them.
First, let’s start with the recipe, which I found the same place everyone else finds recipes…on the internet. That said, when you apply this little lesson to your biscuit making, it won’t matter what recipe you use as long as it has…

BUTTER.

This is the one I use:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of buttermilk

Mix your dry ingredients then add some VERY COLD butter. I cut mine into little squares…And here is where the secret comes in.

Instead of using one of those “pastry cutters,” you’re going to need to get in there and run that butter through your fingers, squishing it into long, thin pieces instead of a zillion little chunks. Once you can feel that the butter is pretty well all attended to, add your buttermilk and incorporate it into the flour and butter mixture.
This does not mean put it in your kitchenaid and put it on 3.
No, better to get a nice spatula and introduce it all nicely together and when it begins to come together…stop.
Put the bowl in the freezer for about…5 or 7 minutes…while your oven preheats to 350.

Now, take your dough out and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and gently pat it out. Again, we want to be nice about this. Just pat pat pat it out and cut your biscuits and place them, sides just touching, on your baking sheet and bake for…12 minutes or so or just until the tops are delightfully perfect.
Here is what happens when you get things you bake with butter really cold before you bake them…when that butter begins to heat up in the oven, it melts and lets off steam that makes the biscuits rise up into those mile-high buttery layers. In the pictures you can see the layers.

Butter is magic.

A New Kitchen Tool

You know, I don’t even know how a proper Southern lady such as myself made it to the age of 50 years old without having a go-to recipe for a nice, fluffy biscuit that didn’t begin buying a box of Bicquick, but there it is. I didn’t…

Until a few weeks ago, at least, when I found this one at food dot com.  Now, I love a lot of things about the internet, but what I ADORE is that I can just google “best buttermilk biscuit” and POOFTHEREITIS or What is the word that comes after that word in that song and POOFTHEREITIS!

I never fail to wonder how exactly we existed before having that capability.

As I’ve probably mentioned, my Mom was a fantastic baker…a baker who

1. Didn’t have a recipe for anything she made

and

2. Wouldn’t have given it to you if she had…

BUT you were more than welcome to come sit in her kitchen and drink coffee and smoke and gossip and try desperately to estimate how much salt she was putting in and how long she was kneading and what temperature the oven was set on.  When Mother was baking, it was a process…more like a ritual really.  A delicate, wonderful ritual and at the end you got to eat yeast rolls as big as your head straight out of the oven, slathered with rich, creamy butter…and if you were her pupil for the day, you got to walk out with a tray or two of those head-sized yeast rolls for your family, PLUS sort of knowing how Elsie made her bread PLUS knowing who was PG (true story. my mother wouldn’t say pregnant. only PG. quietly under her breath).

Anyway, this is a recipe that I will definitely “hand down” to my kids so they don’t have to live the first half of their lives eating biscuits that either came out of a pop can or a Bisquick box.

OH, and the other part of not having a perfect biscuit is not having a perfect biscuit cutter.

But I do now!

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Yep. That would be a teeny can that used to hold baby peas, which, as it turns out, is the absolute perfect size for a biscuit cutter.  That right there is some southern ingenuity, folks!

Basically, what you are going to want to remember when you make these is that the dough is SUPPOSED TO BE SLOOPY.  Don’t add flour til the dough is tight…just let it be sloopy.

Sloopy: adj. – Wettish, not dry.

Just be sure that when you turn it out on the counter to have a good dusting of flour down and you’ll be fine. Promise.

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after reading 5746 blogs…

I have finally found it.

The Best White Cake Recipe

Now, granted, the white cakes I have tried to this point have been absolutely edible, but for the most part have tasted not unlike a nice, sweet cornbread…but with a lovely swoopy swirl of a delicious cream cheese buttercream.

and let’s just be honest…I’d eat a mudcake if it had delicious cream cheese buttercream.

Anyway, thank you, Google, for directing me to Add a Pinch when I googled “the best white cake recipe,” because she is surely not lying when she calls it that.  Aside from the name clearly telling me my search was over, I have to say that the simplicity of the recipe was what grabbed me.  So many of the ones I looked at called for cake flour, which I never have (but tried making myself one time [flour + corn starch = cake flour] and wound up with the flattest, densest red velvet cake EVER), so when I ran down the list and determined that I had all of the things, I knew I had to try it.

So many white cakes are dry and crumbly…like cornbread…but this cake is sweet and moist and the crumb is perfection.  I can’t wait to try it with just a little almond extract for a more wedding-y white cake flavor.  I topped my cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream, but actually left about six for the boys without frosting at all because these don’t even need it…

 

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And that, my friends, is high praise for a white cake cupcake.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby cheesecakes!

Let me start by saying that it is a mighty rare occurrence when I have ALL THE THINGS to make something…ANYTHING…without someone having to go to the grocery store first.  And by rare I mean never.

So imagine my delight when I realized that some bizarre thing was happening in the Kitchen yesterday after work when, as I was googling something to do with lemons, lo and behold, I came across a recipe for baby cheesecakes. Now I’m a sucker for cheesecake. It is, bar none, my favorite dessert…the New York kind…not all marbled with chocolate and raspberries and Reese’s pieces and Butterfingers. Not that there is anything wrong with those cheesecakes, but I’m just a cheesecake purist, which is probably because the only cheesecake I ever had growing up was the one my Mom would bake out of her Ladies’ Home Journal Cookbook. Back in those days your kids were your food processor, so it was always my job to crunch up the zweiback toast to make the crust, which was this rye toast that was hard as concrete that people used to give to their kids to teeth with before anyone was afraid of their kids breaking off a big chunk of rye toast and choking to death.

ANYWAY. As I looked at the recipe for these little Mini New York Cheesecakes, I got sort of excited because LOOKIT I HAVE ALL THESE THINGS

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and really…if you have all the things to make cheesecake, just do it already.

The thing I remember most about the cheesecake of my childhood was that it took FOREVER…which is why these are so FANTASTIC. I’ll bet it didn’t take me 10 minutes to throw everything together, including making the graham cracker crust…and only 15 minutes in the oven. The recipe said to let them chill in the frig for four hours, but let’s be honest.

That didn’t happen.

I found the recipe here, but here it is.  And here are my instructions: Put whatever you are going to put on the bottom on the bottom of the cupcake liner and mix all the other things and dump it in.  That easy.

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 Nilla wafers (or other small cookies)

now, she made a delicious-looking sauce with brown sugar and sour cream, but I made mine with sour cream and sugar and vanilla, but like she says, there is no end to what you could put on top of these.  even fruit.

Of course, because there are THREE of us, I doubled the recipe and had enough filling for NINE mini cakes! THE JOY!

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cheesecake is breakfast food, right?

 

Back before you were a baker…

First, let me say that I think it is absolutely hysterical that I am launching this new blog with a post about cheddar biscuits when 95% of the things I bake are sweet and slathered with some sort of decadent, cream cheese-laden frosting, but here’s the thing…

Yesterday, The Boy, aka my 15-year-old son, asked casually as he strolled through the living room, “hey, do you remember those cheddar biscuits you used to make, you know back before you were a baker? They were really good.”

Remember?!?! More like how could I forget them? (actually what I remember most is the Mr’s face when he took a big ol’ bite of one that he had slathered with apricot preserves…not realizing it was a GARLIC biscuit)

Anyway, you know how it is when someone plants an idea in your head.  From that point on, ALL I could think about was those cheddar biscuits and how light and fluffy and buttery and cheesy they were.  Clearly, there was going to be no getting around making a batch…which is exactly what I did today after church…for The Boy 😉

Almost every copycat recipe I found online called for Bisquick, which is not something I ever have here in the Kitchen, but I finally found a scratch recipe here, made a few alternations, and voila

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Since I was fresh out of lobster, we ate these cheesy, garlic-y puffs of heaven with some deli ham.

As my old buddy Emeril would say…

BAM.