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Monday, January 12, 2009

search for the holy grail of biscuits, part I

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits. Sounds delicious, no?

I have resolved, this year, to find the recipe for the perfect biscuit. I want to be able to make those fluffy, lightly browned biscuits that work with every meal in the South. And because I received three thorough bread cookbooks for Christmas, I have a plenty of possible recipes.

From The Bread Bible, I followed the recipe for the Touch-of-Grace biscuits. And I mean followed - I weighed the ingredients. With a scale. (How cool is that?) The only modification I made was using butter-flavored Crisco, because butter makes everything better.

Though they're not quite the biscuits I'm seaching for, I highly recommend these little guys. They'd be perfect at brunch.
(I served them with Black-Eyed Benedict - check out the next post)

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits

White Lily self-rising flour - 1.5 cups or 7.5 ounces
sugar - 3 Tablespoons or 1.3 ounces
salt - 1/4 teaspoon
vegetable shortening (cold) - 3 Tablespoons or 1.25 ounces
heavy cream - 1.25 cups or 10.2 ounces
all-purpose flour - roughly a cup, maybe less

Preheat the oven to 475 at least thirty minutes before baking the biscuits. Place a baking sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven as it preheats.

Whisk together the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the shortening in tiny pieces (about a teaspoon size). Use your fingers to press the shortening into the flour until it's pea-sized or smaller.

Stir in the cream. The dough will be about the same consistency as mashed potatoes. Let it sit and stiffen up for a couple minutes.

Spread the all-purpose flour in a cake pan or on a cutting board. Use a large spoon or a small ice cream scoop (2 Tbl) to scoop heaping spoonfuls and drop them, one at a time, into the flour. Sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough, roll it around, and shake the extra flour off. Shape the dough into rounds - mine were about 3/4 inch tall and 1.5 inches in diameter.

Put the biscuits into a lightly greased 8-inch cake pan. Pack them in close to each other; this will encourage them to rise up instead of spreading out.

Place the biscuits in the oven, on the baking sheet. Turn the heat up to 500. Bake five minutes. Turn the heat down to 475 and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes (mine were light brown in 8 or 9).

Let the biscuits cool in the pan for a couple minutes before dumping them out. Eat!

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