I also have a confession: I love the feeling of super soft dough in my hands. The step where you shaping the wet dough into mounds with flour is probably my favorite part of this method; the blobs of dough are so soft and pliant in my hands -- love it!
The before and after shots:
It's like night and day, isn't it? Who knew this ugly duckling could turn into such a beautiful swan? :-)
The resulting biscuits aren't uniform, but that's what gives them their charm, in my opinion. They'd look awesome nestled in a napkin that's been tucked into a basket. (Note to self: Buy a basket.)
Biscuits have so many uses: slather them with butter and jam (what I did the night these were baked). Eat them plain. Drizzle honey or syrup on them. Use them to sop up juice from your steak. Or eat them for breakfast, smothered with cream gravy (what I did the next morning). The sky's the limit!
Mile-High Biscuits (recipe slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
For the dough
- 2 cups (10oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk cold, preferably low-fat
To Form and Finish Biscuits
- 1 cup (5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, distributed in rimmed baking sheet
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.
- For the dough: In food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda to combine, about six 1-second pulses. Scatter butter cubes evenly over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture resembles pebbly, coarse cornmeal, eight to ten 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated (dough will be very wet and slightly lumpy).
- To form and bake biscuits: Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet (if dough sticks to cup, use small spoon to pull it free). Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 evenly sized mounds. Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour from baking sheet. With floured hands, gently pick up piece of dough and coat with flour; gently shape dough into rough ball, shake off excess flour, and place in prepared cake pan. Repeat with remaining dough, arranging 9 rounds around perimeter of cake pan and 3 in center. Brush rounds with hot melted butter, taking care not to flatten them.
- Bake 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees; continue to bake until biscuits are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan 2 minutes, then invert biscuits from pan onto clean kitchen towel; turn biscuits right-side up and break apart. Cool 5 minutes longer and serve.
(Shown here with Julia Child's 20-second French omelette.)