The biggest shock I received while working in the dairy section at Wal-Mart was just how little cooking we do as Americans. From TV dinners to frozen pizza, so much of what we eat is prepared for us. And no item brought that home to me as much as those Pillsbury biscuits.
I can understand why the crescent rolls are big sellers. I’ve looked up how to make them. They’re time consuming and difficult to prepare. But biscuits are supposed to be a staple of southern cooking, aren’t they? Don’t they come together so fast that your oven may not even have time to preheat? Well those things flew off the shelf. There’s even a local restaurant owner that stops by Wal-Mart and buys them out twice a week. Appalled, I decided to make some myself thinking that if I, a northeastern boy, can make biscuits, then anyone can.
And wouldn’t you know it, Alton made biscuits on Friday’s Good Eats rerun. So I got to see a master biscuit maker in action: Alton’s grandmother. And on Alton’s online recipe for biscuits she even comments that the recipe on the back of the bag of White Lily flour is hard to beat. I live in rural Pennsylvania so I can’t get White Lily flour. So I got this:
Gold Medal has their own recipe for biscuits on the back of their bag. Nicole from Pinch my Salt actually posted the recipe on the back of White Lily’s bag. She also did her homework and listed the protein content for all types of flours. That way I knew I wasn’t too far off with this flour. Way cool. (Go vote for her as the best food blog.) So should I use Alton’s recipe, White Lily’s or Gold Medal’s? Well since I’ve got Gold Medal flour I used their recipe.
Except I didn’t. I watched Good Eats and Alton said to replace some of the shortening with butter and it will taste better. I am fearless in the face of substitutions!
Looking around at the different recipes out there I must say that the one on the back of Gold Medal self-rising flour has twice the fat as all the others. I mean, EIGHT tablespoons of shortening? Really? I tried to use less, but it wouldn’t crumble the way the bag said it would. Oh, and another thing. Grocery stores here in Podunk don’t have all this low fat or fat free buttermilk. No, these biscuits were made with WHOLE buttermilk. Schedule my bypass for next Tuesday please. (UPDATE: Karen tells me that the local Wal-Mart sells low fat buttermilk, but I really haven’t been in there since I picked up my last paycheck.)
I apparently used a very large biscuit cutter because I only got eight biscuits out. That’s what, one tablespoon of fat per hockey puck, right? They may not have been much to look at,
but they browned up kind of nice. And with all that shortening in there my biscuits definitely had flaky layers. They didn’t all rise the same, though, because I made them in my 12 year old toaster oven.
Okay, so here’s the point. These weren’t a home run, but they were a hit. Even the kids ate them. If a self-proclaimed wannabe in the kitchen can do this well on his first try then anyone can do this. These turned out good and I’ll definitely do it again. Next time I’ll try a recipe with less fat.
See you at the gym.
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
5 Tbsp. shortening
3 Tbsp. butter
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, and baking soda. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk until the dough leaves the side of the bowl and rounds up into a ball.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 5 or 6 times or until smooth. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet so that they just touch.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter if desired.