The Thursday Gourmet: Beaten Biscuits30 July, 2009
I know I haven’t been posting much. I’m on vacation this week, and writing my blog doesn’t rank at the top of my vacation list. I have, however, been cooking. And trying new recipes. And enjoying the (((Wife))). And cooking!
I asked (((Wife))) what she wanted with a brined sirloin roast done on the barbecue. She said she wanted biscuits.
Uh-oh. Bisquits are trouble. I am never gentle enough with the dough. I create hockey pucks. And I’m not even Canadian. Not good.
So I looked around in my cookbooks for biscuit recipes and found this one in Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads:
Well, obviously, if they are beaten, I don’t need to worry about being too gently, right? This is an old Southern recipe. And I’m neither old enough nor Southern enough to have ever had these before, so I decided to try something new, expand my horizons, widen my passing lane, and learn some new cliches.
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder (the recipe calls for one, but I never have good luck with baking powder so I doubled it)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 cup solid shortening (Crisco, for example) (the recipe calls for lard, but, having a vegetarian in the family. . .)
1 1/4 cup 2% milk
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir to combine. Add the solid shortening and work it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter (is it just me, or does that sound like a Coast Guard kitchen ship?) or your fingers until the largest pieces are smaller than a kernel of corn. Stir in the milk to make a thick dough and kneed with your hands for a few minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough relax for a half hour in the refrigerator.
Select a counter top or other surface are with is the right height to comfortably beat the dough. Make sure it is strongly constructed and isn’t too brittle (in case you miss the dough). Dump out the dough and begin beating it (I used a dough pin, but any long, solid, strong, smooth and easy to grip piece of wood will work). Working with a steady, strong tempo, beat the dough flat, then fold in half, rotate a quarter turn, and beat it flat again. Keep beating it, folding it, and rotating it for 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes. No, I am not kidding. Yes, you can ask for help while beating it. No, Michael Jackson is not involved (though you can wear one white glove if that floats your boat). It should become smooth and silky.
When you are done, place the dough back in the bowl, cover again with plastic wrap, place it in the refrigerator for a half an hour, pour yourself a beer and relax. You earned it.
Dump the dough out again and beat it. Again. Beat for 100 strokes, rotate a quarter turn, and beat it 100 more times. This loosens up the dough for the final phase and reminds the dough that it really is beaten. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of a generous 1/2 inch. (Don’t roll it too thin or they become oyster cracker biscuits). Cut into 1 1/2 in rounds (a highball glass works perfectly for this) and place on a lightly greased (or teflon) baking sheet. When the oven is hot, place them on a center rack and back for 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve warm. Enjoy. And rub some liniment on your beating arm.