Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Butter Biscuits....good for shortcakes

Butter Biscuits - made March 30, 2011 from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum (#73)

My cousin Abby is visiting from the Philippines and splitting her time this week between the relatives on her dad's side (my parents and me) and relatives on her mom's side (her aunt and other cousins) before heading back to her sister's and her new nephew.  During her time with me, my joke to her was to fill up on rice when she was at my parents and when we went out to eat because I didn't have any rice at home.  I've been Westernized enough to not eat rice that often or that much and, given a choice, usually go for bread as my carb of choice.  (Yes, sometimes I'm a failure as an Asian.)  So it was even funnier when my mom sent Abby over to my house loaded with food, including rice.  Okay, I did plan to feed her on my own but her packed bag of leftovers made that moot, lol.

This morning though, I did rustle up some biscuits to go with our breakfast as even I can manage scrambled eggs and (pre-cooked) steak strips.  This recipe is in several of Rose's cookbooks, including the Bread Bible which I had made the Touch of Grace Biscuits from.  But since it's also in the Pie & Pastry Bible, that made it fair game to count in my baking challenge.  I'll take any boost I can get as I don't think I'm even at the halfway mark yet.

The biscuit dough was firmer than the Touch of Grace biscuits and easier to manage as a more traditional biscuit dough.  What made it unusual was mashing hard-boiled egg yolks into it.  I wasn't sure how that was going to turn out but it was different enough that I wanted to try it.  My first sticking point was the yolks didn't go through a fine-mesh sieve that well.  In trying to push them through the sieve, they ended up crumbling into a powder anyway so I gave up on the sieve and added the yolk powder to the dry ingredients.  I used about 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup heavy cream for the liquid and the dough was fairly easy to work with to pat out and cut into rounds.

I crowded them into an 8" round cake pan as I wanted biscuits with soft sides.  There wasn't enough room for all the biscuits so I baked about 6 separately in another pan.  These biscuits didn't spring up as high as I expected, considering how much baking powder was in them.  Instead, they only rose slightly.  Even though I brushed the tops with melted butter, they also didn't brown a deep golden brown like the Touch of Grace biscuits and I baked them longer than the 15-20 minutes the recipe called for, more like 25 minutes.  I finally took them out because the bottoms looked done even if the tops still looked pale.

But I'm glad I made these as they turned out to be pretty good.  Instead of traditional biscuits, these are more like the biscuits used for shortcakes.  In fact, this is what Rose says she uses when making strawberry shortcake.  The texture was light and delicate, more cakey than bread-y.  I loved the flavor.  You can't taste the egg yolks and they weren't a deep yellow color like Rose intimated they would be so I'm not sure if I did something wrong or not.  But taste-wise, these biscuits are great.  So far, Rose Levy Berenbaum is 2 for 2 on awesome-tasting biscuits.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, hard cooked, yolks only
¾ cup heavy cream or buttermilk or a combination of the two

1 tablespoon melted butter, cooled

1.    Cut the butter into small bits.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or freeze for 10 minutes.
2.    Preheat the oven to 400F for 20 minutes before baking.  Have an oven rack at the middle level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
3.    In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add the butter and, with your fingertips, press into the flour to make small pieces that resemble coarse meal.
4.    Press the egg yolks through a fine strainer into the flour mixture, and whisk to distribute them evenly.  Stir in the cream and/or buttermilk, just until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to come together so you can form it into a ball with your hands.  Empty it onto a lightly floured counter and knead it a few times until it develops a little elasticity and feels smooth.  Dust the dough lightly with flour if it feels a little sticky and pat or roll it ¾” thick.
5.    Have a small dish of flour for dipping the cutter.  Dip the cutter into the flour before each cut and cut cleanly through the dough, lifting out the cutter without twisting it so that the edges are straight, for the maximum rise, kneading the dough scraps briefly so they won’t get tough, pat or roll out, and cut out more biscuits.
6.    For biscuits with soft sides, place the biscuits almost touching (about ¼” apart) on the baking sheet.  For crisp sides, place them 1 inch apart.  Brush off any excess flour.  For a crisp top, brush with the melted butter and sprinkle lightly with the sugar.
7.    Place the biscuits in the oven on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.
8.    Split the biscuits in half, preferably using a three-tined fork to keep them from compressing and to create a rustic rough split.
Tita Cely, Abby and me

1 comment:

  1. They look wonderful. I do love some biscuits and it's been too long since I've had some strawberry shortcake.