Now, there’s no easy way to say this. Biscuits should taste like God made them. And for that, you cannot unroll some package from the refrigerator section of your supermarket. God does not live next to the whipping cream. Neither does he live next to the yellow box of “all-in-one-mix-for-biscuits-waffles-or-pancakes.” No, if God spends a night in the supermarket it’s next to the best flour He can find.
Biscuits are a Southern tradition because they have flour there, such as White Lily, that yields astronomically, gastronomically wonderful biscuits. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, it’s not easy to get a great biscuit flour.
And that is why this recipe, from the new Sarabeth’s Bakery by Sarabeth Levine, is so important. Using standard north-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line-flour, this recipe produces that light, tender biscuit that you could only experience way, way down South. The secret here is buttermilk plus very careful instructions. It’s actually an easy recipe to do and the yield is, well, life changing. You won’t be satisfied with “regular” biscuits again. Not when these addicting, light, fluffy, subtle pillows of flavor are so simple to prepare.
For a football party, a batch these is a wonderful starting point. People can enjoy them with butter and jam, or you can top them with ham and cheese, or … You get the idea: these are wonderful on their own and the perfect launching pad for your imagination.
Yield: 16 biscuits
- 3 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Add the butter. Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter. Add the buttermilk, mixing just until the dough barely comes together.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out a little more than ¾ inch thick. Using a 2 ¼-inch fluted biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts, cut out the biscuits and place 1 inch apart on the pan. Gently press the scraps together (do not overhandle the dough). Repeat rolling and cutting.
Bake until the biscuits are well risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or way. To reheat the biscuits, wrap them in aluminum foil in bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.
Suzen made these and meticulously followed the recipe. That “1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder” was done precisely that way. No rounding off to an even 2 tablespoons. Sarabeth Levine has one of the outstanding bakeries and restaurants in New York City. With her years of experience, you can trust that she has perfected this recipe down to that last teaspoon.
Source: Sarabeth’s Bakery by Sarabeth Levine
The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan
Every holiday season, I scour the bookstore shelves looking for the new, the intriguing. I seek the next great book, one that has recipes that can become “tradition” in our house. Sure, Suzen and I already have a few thousand recipes, but there’s always room for more. Holidays are emotionally important and we look for exceptional food to share with our friends and family.
So just before Thanksgiving I found The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan. It was published in 2008, but I never saw it on the shelves last year. I’m most thankful I found it this year. It’s a perfect holiday book, not just for Thanksgiving but for this winter’s special days and very special meals.