Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 263: Best Biscuits

I had some great responses to my query yesterday about making a Dutch Oven Madness Cook Book.  Thanks to everyone who chimed in.  I think I'll take every one's advice and have the cook book available in January.  As soon as I know the cost I'll let everyone know and I'll set up a Paypal link for pre-orders.  I think it will be a great resource--and not just for outdoor cooking since any of the recipes can be made indoors as well!  I'm open to suggestions, so let me know what you think!

I'm not sure where I ran across today's recipe.  I found it handwritten in the back of one of my menu planners.  It comes from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday.  I'll warn you, this recipe is a little fussy.  It's something I'd expect to see Martha Stewart make.  I'll also tell you, its worth the fuss.  Don't be intimidated by how long the instructions are, its really very easy.

Best Biscuits
12" dutch oven

1 cup (8 oz) buttermilk
1/2 cup (4 oz) frozen unsalted butter (needs to be in the freezer for at least 30 minutes)
1 cup  all purpose flour
3/4 cup pastry flour (you can use all purpose flour)
1 tablespoon  sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons  baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt or 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

Place a cheese grater over the bowl of dry ingredients. Remove butter from freezer, unwrap it, and grate it through the large holes into the dry ingredients.  Use your fingertips to separate and distribute the butter pieces evenly, breaking up any clumps but not working the butter so much it disappears or melts into the flour. Add the buttermilk and stir with a large spoon until all of the flour is hydrated and the dough forms a coarse ball. Add a tiny bit more buttermilk if necessary to bring the dough together.

Transfer the dough to a generously floured surface, then dust the top of the dough with flour. Working with floured hands, use your palms to press the dough into a rectangle or square about 3/4 inch thick. Use a metal pastry scraper to lift the dough and dust more flour underneath. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well, then roll it out into a rectangle or square about 1/2 inch thick. Then, using the pastry scraper to help lift the dough, fold it over on itself into three sections as if folding a letter.

Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then once again lift the dough and dust more flour underneath. Dust the top with flour as well, the once again roll it out into a square or rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and fold into thirds. Give the dough another quarter turn and repeat procedure again. Then, repeat one final time (four roll outs in all).

After the fourth rolling, dust under and on top of the dough one more time, then roll the dough out to just under 1/2 inch thick, in either a rectangle or an oval. Use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface.

Cut the biscuits with a floured pizza cutter. Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased sheet pan (lined with parchment paper) placing them about 1/2 inch apart.

Let the biscuits rest for 15-30 minutes before baking. Even better, place the pan in the refrigerator to chill.

Preheat the dutch oven to 500 degrees.  I just started my coals and dumped all of them on the lid to preheat it.

Transfer the biscuits to the dutch oven.  Properly distribute the coals  to bake at 450° with 2 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pot and bake for another 6-10 minutes. until both the tops and bottoms of the biscuit are a rich golden brown.  The biscuits should rise about 1 1/2 times in height.

The Finished Product

This picture just doesn't do these justice!

The Review

The name accurately describes these biscuits.  They are buttery, light and flaky!  I think if I worked with this recipe I could easily turn it into a restaurant quality biscuit.  These are that good.  Even with all the rolling and folding these were really easy and not time consuming.  I'll warn you, the dough is VERY soft and a little bit hard to handle the first few times you roll them out.  But its a small price to pay for biscuits this good.  As far as my favorite biscuits go, these rank right up there with the cream biscuits we loved so much!  Grade A.

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