Hello from moving-land! I’m writing this from the floor of our living room, since two men from the Habitat for Humanity Re-build donation program just walked out our front door with the last remaining soft thing to sit on. I just binge-ate about five of the gingerbread graduation cookies my parents shipped our way while contemplating exactly how we might tetris the remaining miscellany into the upper reaches of our moving pod and Dennis’ car. It’s gonna be tight (the car) or precariously balanced (the pod) or both (eek). Regardless, it’s officially happening, and we’ll soon be in DC! We may still be homeless, but we’ll be there! Progress! We’ll probably also be in serious need of some comfort food (and some vegetables, but whatever) and we’ll be needing to bribe my brother and his lovely girlfriend so that they let us stay with them in their apartment as long as necessary, which is where these biscuits come in.
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with home-made biscuits, but the difference between average and excellent biscuits is pretty profound. The key to these superb specimens is using cold butter and mixing the dough by hand, leaving discrete, nickel-sized amounts of butter remaining in the dough. Once baked these chunks of butter melt, they create ‘buddles’ (butter puddles), and flaky layers. If a batch or two of these don’t soften the blow of a 1,000 mile move, I don’t know what will.
Richard Miscovich’s Baking Powder Biscuits
- All purpose flour 5C + 1T + 1t (600g)
- Baking powder 2T + 1 1/2 t (28g)
- Salt 2 1/4 t (12g)
- Sugar, granulated 2T (28g)
- Butter, unsalted, cold 2 sticks (210g)
- Milk, cold 1 3/4c (400g)
- Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a bowl.
- Cut or grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix in the butter with your hands until most of the butter is in large, flat shards about the size of a nickel. This can be accomplished using a pastry cutter or rubbing the dough between the heels of your hands. Do not overmix the dough – as mentioned above, the chunks of butter are critical to the texture of the final product.
- Add the milk and mix by hand until just incorporated – don’t worry if you still have a few spots of dry flour remaining. Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface and gently knead 6-8 times, until the dough just comes together.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1″ thick. Fold one third of the rectangle in towards the center, then fold the opposite side over, as if folding a letter. Press down gently, rotate the dough 90 degrees, then repeat the letter fold with the other two sides, creating a square. Roll the dough out again, this time to a rectangle ~9″x 12″ and about 5/8″ thick. Let the dough rest, covered, for about 20 minutes. To cut individual biscuits, make a 3 x4 grid on the surface of the dough, then use a long, sharp knife to cut along the grid-lines, producing 12 biscuits.
- Place the biscuits evenly spaced on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Eggwash the tops of the biscuits only, being careful not to let the wash drip down the sides (this would inhibit rising). Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.