Saturday, December 4, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits with Rosemary and Thyme

I love how the name of this recipe just rolls off the tongue: buttermilk biscuits.

I probably sound like a broken record now, always calling my recipes versatile and easy to make, but this one definitely is.

Why do I keep stressing this idea of simplicity? Because I recognize that the reason why a lot of people don't develop a love of cooking is because of this idea that cooking is a long and complicated process that involves special kitchenware or tools. This isn't true though.

I bake all the time, and yet I don't keep yeast in my kitchen, ever, and I don't own biscuit cutters. I try to only buy things that I use often. My kitchen has one kind of flour: all purpose flour. I have a food processor and a mixer and that's about as fancy as I get with my kitchen gadgets. I love to cook, but I never see any reason to go out and buy special ingredients or tools/gadgets. So I try to keep things simple. For my sake and yours.

These biscuits are great free form biscuits. meaning they require no rolling out of the dough, and you don't need to run out and purchase biscuits cutters. The recipe is also very novice-friendly and forgiving.

It's great to make if you have friends over, and especially good for children. One key thing that I think helps make this recipe fairly difficult to mess up is this: freezing the butter. I know that sounds weird, but really if you take your butter and cut it into fairly small chunks you can handle the dough for a long period of time without worrying about any negative consequences (e.g. cakey or tough biscuits). Freezing butter when making biscuits and pie doughs is important because it keeps the butter cold and the cold pieces of butter distributed throughout your biscuit dough are what helps to make your biscuit flaky during baking.

This biscuit recipe is also a great recipe for anyone who wants biscuits but doesn't want to have to plan a special trip to the grocery store just to make some biscuits.

You don't even need to have buttermilk on hand! (I've actually never bought buttermilk) Just get some milk and some lemon juice (or lime juice) following the ratio below, combine, and allow to sit at room temperature and you've got beautiful buttermilk. And yes, don't worry, there are suppose to be those curds forming.

As for flavoring of the biscuits, you can really mix things up. I used rosemary and thyme, but you could make oregano biscuits, tarragon biscuits, cheese biscuits (although you'll want to decrease the salt in the recipe then), ham biscuits, onion and sage biscuits, whatever floats your boat.

So, without further ado, a biscuit recipe from me to you.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Rosemary and Thyme
adapted from Dot’s Diner

275g all purpose flour (scant 3 cups)
2 tsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 cup buttermilk (scant cup milk + juice from ½ lemon)
2 tbsp melted butter (optional)

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Finely chop rosemary and thyme and mix to combine.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Using fingertips, rub the chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened.

Form biscuits using approximately 1/4 cup dough for each. Biscuits don’t spread too much in the oven, so 1-2 inches of space between biscuits should be fine.

Optional: decorate with a small bunch of rosemary. Brush with butter.

Bake until biscuits are golden, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 12-13 biscuits.

Note: If freezing your butter, you only need to toss it in the freezer about 15-20 minutes ahead of time.

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