Nothing beats an oven fresh biscuit. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

Nothing beats an oven-fresh biscuit. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Ages ago a reader requested a biscuit post and now, in something of a dreary February brain hibernation, I thought would be the perfect time. Donna shot this biscuit while I was writing Ratio and what I love about it is not the ratio itself (3 parts flour : 1 part fat : 2 parts liquid) but rather how the rolling technique results in layered flakiness.

It’s kind of a cross between a pie crust and puff pastry. A pie crust is flaky because random knots of butter separate layers of dough and puff when baked. With puff pastry, one sets out to create precise layers of dough and butter, hundreds of them, by successively folding and rolling out a single block of butter encased in dough (called turns) for a uniform puff dough. Here, we make a looser pie crust (compare the 3-2-1 pie dough ratio), purposefully allowing chunks of butter to spread out in the dough, then give the dough several “turns” to create multiple, though far from uniform, layers that puff when you bake them.

These buttery wonders are great for breakfasts and dinners, the dough made a day in advance if necessary, the biscuits baked and frozen for a week or more. For an amazing winter weekend breakfast, make a bechamel (cook butter and flour, add milk, heat till thick) then add sausage and onion to this and pour it over the biscuit for a classic biscuits and gravy breakfast.

Biscuits

  • 9 ounces flour (a scant 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces chilled butter, diced
  • 6 ounces milk
  1. Set a mixing bowl on a scale and pour out the flour. Add the baking powder (pressed through a strainer if it’s pebbly) and salt. Weigh out the butter. Rub and pinch the butter into the flour so that the butter is well distributed and in fragments and small chunks, the largest of which are not bigger than peas. Pour in 6 ounces of milk and combine just until a dough is formed (you will see distinct whole chunks of butter in the dough). Form into a 4-inch-by-6-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Unwrap the dough and dust it with flour. Roll out the dough to about three times its size on a floured counter, board, or plastic wrap, maintaining the rectangular shape. Fold it into thirds and roll it out again (it will be more resistant and springy now). Fold it in thirds again, press it down firmly, wrap it in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour or until thoroughly chilled. Repeat the procedure again. The dough is now ready to be rolled out to 1/2 inch thick and cut, or it can be folded in thirds, refrigerated, and rolled out again one more time for a total of six folds, or turns.
  3. Cut the dough into squares or, if you like, into rounds with a ring cutter or a glass. Bake at 350°F/177°C until done, 20 to 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 to 6 biscuits (can be doubled or tripled by weight)

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.