Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'll clean up the Flour Explosion later, OK?

Beware baking when you feel like you're in a rush.

Baking is one of those things that should be done with care.  You can cook and if you add an extra 1/2 cup of beef broth to something you usually won't notice.   If it is in the oven long enough, the water will boil off, or it will go from Medium to Medium Well.

Baking is a different tradition.   The recipes will say 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons for a reason.  Usually things are measured out precisely because it will be too dry or too flat or some such.   Many recipes are amazingly complex for most people and a walk down the aisles of a good supermarket will show you mixes to cut that sort of effort back.   Many are good, but most are merely mediocre.

The other side of that coin is that many recipes are complex because it is a macho thing.  Take Biscuits.  I've written about how I make my biscuits from home churned butter and buttermilk, sugar and self rising flour.  Biscuits are one of those recipes that will make a good baker at least give a pause.  You're supposed to make it with ice cold butter, ice cold buttermilk, and God Forbid If You Over Mix Your Batter!

This time I made them in a way that Lucille Ball would be proud and Paula Deen would drive down from Savannah GA to either learn my secret or slap sense into me.

I had warmed up the electric oven to something roughly like 450F and tossed in a sheet of fish and chips and then set about to make butter and then biscuits.  The Butter churned in about 5 minutes and while churning, I poured in the flour and sugar and then set the Kitchen Aid Mixer in place.   I then squeezed out most of the buttermilk, measured out a half cup of almost room temp butter then dumped that into the mixer along with a cup of buttermilk.

Here's where the fun happened...

The dog made a noise, turned around to see what was up and while turning I reached over to the switch and powered up the Kitchen Aid.

To Full Speed.

The Mixer immediately threw up a cloud of Flour, Butter, Buttermilk, and Sugar and I immediately threw up a massive curse.

Being stubborn, I eyeballed the liquid and turned the mixer back on low.  I ramped up the speed to full, Yes, Full, and let it mix.  The batter got nice and shiny, pumped full of air, and looked like thick pancake batter.

The thing was that what ever the proportions were, I decided to roll with it.   Not the biscuits, but the batter.   A quarter cup of batter per biscuit made a biscuit after twelve and a half minutes in that inaccurate oven that rose to more than double the volume or approximately the size of a small kaiser roll.

Yes, the mistake biscuits made by this New Jersey Yankee, turned out amazingly well.  I had warm butter and buttermilk at over 60F, batter pushing 70F in my warm Florida Kitchen, and ended up with eight fist sized creamy and fluffy biscuits.

So the next time someone tells you that the batter has to be ice cold and you have to watch over your batter like a hawk, tell them they're fools and point them here.   We can tell them together how to make a biscuit light and fluffy and creamy like they used to be made!

Icy Butter?  No Way!  Too much Effort!  Biscuits are EASY!!!!!

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