It’s been a while! The holidays are near and things are getting busy; well, you know how it is. But I was able to take time to make these delicious biscuits for a potluck last weekend. Biscuits…from scratch? Absolutely.
While it does save time popping open that can of pre-made (and cut) biscuits, especially since you need enough for 20+ people (and including seconds), it will never taste as good as biscuits from scratch. But actually, they’re quite easy to make and really takes all of about 10-15 minutes to prep. A good buttery and flaky biscuit is more about technique. So I’ll give you my tips early on in this post.
As with all buttery and flaky baked things, such as biscuits and pie crusts, you want the butter to be cold, very cold. You want to see white dots of butter in the dough as you’re rolling out the crust or cutting the biscuits. This will give you that nice buttery and flaky texture. Basically, you want the dough to be as cold as possible when you’re working with it so that the butter doesn’t soften. In recipes that call for cold butter cut into pieces, I’ll cut the butter on a plate and then stick it in the freezer to harden until ready for use. If you’re making it by hand using knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour, stick those in the freezer too. If your bowl will fit, also put that in to cool it before use. And when you’re working with the dough, work quickly because your hands will start to melt the butter as you handle it.
When it comes to rolling out the dough, I prefer to pat it with my hands to roll/stretch it out. You want to disturb the gluten as little as possible so that the biscuit remains soft. Rolling it out with a pin is too disruptive.
If you can, stretch out the dough super thin and fold it over itself 2-3 times. These folds help create the layers in biscuits.
When cutting the biscuits out, if you don’t have a cookie cutter, use something with a slightly sharper edge. A dull cutter can compress the biscuit’s edge, causing it to not rise properly. I used the rim of a wine glass.
When placing them on a baking sheet, make sure that the biscuits are slightly touching each other. This will help them rise upwards, not outwards to the side.
- Preheat oven to 450F and grease or line with parchment paper or foil, a baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
- Using a food processor, or pastry knife if making by hand, cut the butter into the flour mixture.
- Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk.
- Add in the chives and cheddar.
- Stir until just incorporated and dough is loose.
- Knead dough for about 1 minute, as it then should become smooth.
- Pat the dough out until it becomes at most 1/4″ thick.
- Fold the dough in half.
- Cut out biscuits and place, slightly touching one another, onto the baking sheet.
- Bake 10-15 minutes, or until slightly browned
Cornbread and I have a complicated relationship. I really only eat it a few times a year, and when I do, it’s great. But, apologizing to my Southern friends in advance, it’s just not one of those foods that come top of mind when I want a bread to eat with soup or chili. I definitely wouldn’t mind eating it more often, I just need to remember.
A few days ago, Dan and I ordered barbecue for dinner which came with a side of cornbread. Upon the first bite, I instantly remembered what I’d been missing. It was buttery, slightly crumbly and deliciously moist. It cut the meatiness of the ribs and sweetness of the baked beans. I’ll admit, this cornbread does have a lot going on with the cheddar, scallions and jalapeño. I think the only thing that’s missing is crumbled bacon; and I’ll let you add that yourself. This recipe works just fine with none, any or all of the mix-ins. But you have to make this in a cast iron skillet. It’s classic. Plus, it gives you those nice toasty edges.
And if you want these flavors in biscuit format, A Kitchen Addiction has a great recipe for jalapeño cheddar biscuits.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Brush bottom of cast-iron skillet (no larger than 10″) or square baking pan with oil or some butter.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir in the jalapeños, scallions, and shredded cheddar.
- In another bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
- Stir in melted butter.
- Stir buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just moistened. Do not overmix.
- Spread batter into prepared pan in an even layer.
- Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden on top and when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
The jalapeño, cheddar and scallions are optional in this recipe. Omit these to bake a classic cornbread.
Aside from the great, local produce, the Union Square Greenmarket also has delicious bread and baked goods stands. One of my favorite stands is Our Daily Bread. I love scones and they have some great ones. Scones are one of my favorite breakfast/brunch baked goods. Its buttery flavor and crumbly texture pair well with a cup of tea or coffee. My favorite scone from Our Daily Bread is their cranberry cornmeal scone. I made my own version of this scone for a weekend brunch I hosted.
But brunch? Did I wake up hours in advance to prepare all this freshly baked goodness? Definitely not. I try to prepare what I can ahead of time. Here are the components of my brunch and how I usually prepare them:
Fruit: I usually make a fruit salad or offer a bowl of fruit – like strawberries or grapes. This is quick and easy to prepare the morning of.
Baked Good: This is usually a muffin, scone, or some type of quick bread, like banana bread. This can be made the night before and kept moist wrapped in saran wrap.
Entree: This is made the morning of. However, if I am serving Belgian waffels or pancakes, the batter can be made the day before.
Side: This I make the morning of. It’s usually something like sausages, which is quick to prepare, or home fries, which I bake – put it in the oven and it’s done in about 20 minutes. Quick and simple.
For the baked good, I make it right before I got to bed the night before. I let it cool, put it on a plate, and cover it tightly with saran wrap so it stays moist for the next morning. I tried one of these scones right when it came out and also the next morning – they both tasted great!
- Move oven rack so that the scones will bake in the top third of the oven.
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Add the butter pieces.
- Using a pastry cutter, or two dinner knives, or food processor, cut butter pieces into the flour mixture. You want to achieve a crumbly consistency.
- Mix in cranberries and orange zest.
- With a fork, stir in the egg and buttermilk. You want the dough to become just moistened. Don’t over-mix.
- Dust a clean surface with some flour, form the dough into a soft ball and pat into a large round, about 1/3″ thick.
- If the dough becomes too soft to handle because of the butter, refrigerate it for about 5 minutes.
- Using a round cookie cutter or cup, cut out circles about 2 1/2″ in diameter.
- Gather the dough scraps together, pat into a large round and repeat cutting out circles.
- Place the scones onto a cookie sheet, either greased or lined with foil or parchment paper.
- Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
I love baked goods. Doughnuts, scones, muffins, brownies, cookies…everything! But they’re not great for you considering all the butter and sugar that go into them. And now since food establishments are required to post calorie counts, that little Blueberry Streusel Muffin at Starbucks has 360 calories, 30% saturated fat, and 33 grams of sugar. If you want the same caloric intake, with less sugar and fat, 360 calories equals about 2 medium bananas and 2 of those Dannon Light & Fit 80 calorie yogurt packs. While the latter option sounds pretty good, especially mixed together and with a drizzle of honey, if you really want blueberry muffins, try this healthy and low fat version.
You’ll notice that healthy muffins, including these, are less crumbly than regular full fat ones and a bit more spongy. This is due to the omission of butter and the substitution of applesauce. But while (I’ll even admit) healthy muffins don’t taste as sinfully good as regular ones, they’re good enough and (most importantly!) I won’t have run an extra mile at the gym for it.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Dip a napkin in the canola oil and lightly grease a muffin tin, enough for 12 muffins.
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients of flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the wet ingredients of applesauce, buttermilk, oil and egg.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Stir together so everything is just incorporated.
- Stir in blueberries.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, dividing the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.
- Bake 15 – 18 minutes.
Buttermilk always comes in large cartons. Since this recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, I knew I wouldn’t really use the rest of the carton. A (low fat) substitution for buttermilk is a 50/50 mixture of plain yogurt and milk. So for the 1/2 cup buttermilk, I mixed 1/4 cup of nonfat plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of unsweetened soy milk.
I don’t think the temperature measurement on ovens is 100% accurate. Like microwaves, the power varies from oven to oven. It might say 400F, but it’ll probably be either a few degrees colder or hotter. For baked goods, I always set the timer a couple of minutes short of what the recipe calls for. Then I check for doneness and adjust the baking time accordingly.
To test for doneness, stick a wooden skewer or knife into a muffin. The muffins are done when the skewer or knife can be cleanly pulled out.