In a November post, I noted the “long shadows of 2:30pm”. It’s only fair that I show what it’s like as summer approaches. This photo was taken at 8:15pm on June 7th, 2012. This is the view from our driveway, looking seaward (the Irish Sea is just over the rise).
And all this daylight makes one feel energetic, and in my case, hungry. Which brings me to biscuits. Buttermilk biscuits are a genetic addiction of mine and I have spent a significant portion of my adult life trying (unsuccessfully) to make a decent biscuit.
For Lisa’s birthday, I found a recipe from Alton Brown that nailed the perfect buttermilk biscuit. She said it was maybe the best biscuit she’d ever eaten. I decided to whip up a second batch, mostly to prove to myself that the first try wasn’t a fluke. I don’t think they were quite as good as the first time out, but they were certainly delicious and would be recognized by any southerner as the real deal. Here are the key factors as I see them:
- Make sure the oven is good and hot before you start baking.
- His recipe calls for butter and shortening. I couldn’t bring myself to use Crisco or (!) goose fat (which is right there next to the cream cheese in the Manx grocery store). I just substituted more butter. Some foodies say to use extra butter when replacing shortening, but I didn’t and still got great results. I did cut the salt by 1/8 tsp (per foodie advice).
- Don’t over-handle the dough. Brown’s recipe makes this clear but I’d never gotten that message. Turn it out of the mixing bowl the moment you think you can do so. Literally just fold it on itself 5-6 times then cut the biscuits. Do not roll the dough. Work fast and get them into the oven.
- Cut them thick. He says 3/4″ – 1″, which you should look at before cutting – that’s a lot of depth. It’s the thickness that keeps the inside soft and flaky, with a just a touch of “doughy”. Obviously the exact consistency is very much a matter of personal preference, but I like to know where my biscuits came from.
Then you bake ‘em and they look like this:
Now you spread them with homemade preserves and you’re good to go.