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Southern Biscuits Format Kindle
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I watched Nathalie Dupree's wonderful television program on PBS for many years so I was already familiar with her style of cooking. One of the foods I could never get the hang of was biscuits. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother make them using only their hands to mix the ingredients. I tried that and came away with rocks because I had no idea about ingredient proportions. This book will help you explore proportions and techniques that will ultimately lead to a biscuit which will make you say WOW! It happened today after batch #8. In a three week period. That's a lot of biscuits, but, luckily they freeze well so we are stocked up. I have had some bumpy rides along the way to that WOW batch. Here's what I've learned:
!. First three batches - Basic Southern Biscuits on pages 56-57. Followed the recipe exactly the first time and got heavy biscuits that didn't rise. Figured it was my fault so made them exactly the same another time but used a different oven, with the same unsatisfactory result. Even the *failures* were being eaten though. I then noticed that the White Lily Self-Rising flour sack had a biscuit recipe which was virtually identical to what I was using but with only half the fat. Made the batch using that recipe and it was really, really good. The lesson learned was that I wasn't compelled to follow the recipe exactly, but I needed to learn how and when to deviate.
2. Batches four, five, six - Busty Yogurt Biscuits on pages 44 and 45, where yogurt is the liquid and fat combination. Fabulous taste (a little tangy), not much of a rise but that was fine. Yogurt and Heavy Cream Biscuits on pages 46 and 47 where there is once again no fat except what is found naturally in the cream and yogurt. These were super easy to stir together and, although not as tender as biscuits made with a specific fat ingredient, still very tasty. Cynthia's Real Life Pantry Biscuits on pages 48 and 49 using half-and-half and yogurt. Again, great taste, not as tender, not much of a rise. These three batches were made without telling my husband what I was using in the biscuit. He's a purist and when he found out about the yogurt he would have liked to complain but it was a little hard when he had eaten four of the biscuits with nary a whimper.
3. Batches seven and eight - Fast-Food Biscuits on pages 78 and 79. These are what we think of as basic homemade biscuits. The first batch I followed the directions except I could not bring myself to put in an entire stick of butter with only two cups of flour. I did half the butter. The ingredient amount for the buttermilk made an exceedingly wet dough. I couldn't even pick them up to put on the pan with a bench scraper. I dumped them all back into a pile, sprinkled in more flour as I was folding and patting (kneading) until the dough was still moist but not wet. Excellent rise and taste, but I ended up using at least 1/2 cup of extra flour. The batch today was this biscuit again, but I put together everything I had learned so far: began with more flour, used part butter part vegetable shortening, and used less buttermilk. Resulting in a beautifully risen, flaky, tender, moist, brown, WOW biscuit.
There are still many, many recipes I want to try from this book but for me it was important to get the basic biscuit making skill down first. I now know how moist I want my dough to be, I am not worried about having to deviate from the ingredient measurements if I have to, and I have worked out in my head the science of what makes a biscuit light or dense, tangy, tender, or length of time for cooking in both of my ovens. This book is a starting point for anyone wanting to make biscuits. These are suggestions for the most part, not hard and fast rules. Experimentation will be necessary. If your first batch works out perfectly, then you have earned your Golden Biscuit Badge!
The book is written in such a way that any recipe may be tried by a cook as a first attempt - you can skip around and there is no absolute order of experimentation. Therefore, there is a whole lot of repeated information. Each and every recipe for biscuits repeats each step involved in making a batch. When I was reading through this book from cover to cover that almost drove me crazy. Ultimately I started looking for the anecdotal writing at the beginning of the recipe, the ingredient list itself, the oven temperature and then skimmed the instructions for any change from the norm. Recipes are included for what to do with leftover biscuits, how to embellish biscuits, things you can make from basic biscuit dough, desserts and other tasty sounding ideas. It is indeed a complete cookbook dedicated to the biscuit. Most of the recipes give the quantity of biscuits made based on a 2" biscuit cutter. My husband looked at those tiny biscuits and laughed. I tried a 2.5" cutter and a 3" cutter. He, of course, likes the 3" biscuit cutter best.
My husband is a Southern man from head to toe. For more years than I care to count I have endured comments about Miss Sammie's biscuits down at the diner. Well guess what, my WOW biscuits today put me right up there even with Miss Sammie. Folks, that's as good as it gets.
Added July 8, 2011 -- This book strongly recommends that you use a baking powder brand which does not contain aluminum. I never knew ANY baking powder contained aluminum. Believe the authors, it makes a huge difference in the resulting product you make. They suggest several different brands in the book and my local supermarket had one.
I made the buttermilk cranberry scones today and I'm thinking I will have to hide them or ask my daughters to come over and take them away from us....they are that good! Next time I'll mix them up in my food processor though. I thought my arm was going to give out before I got that very large batch of dough ready. 4 1/2 cups of flour and 1 cup of butter using a pastry cutter? Whew!
Natalie explains the effects of ingredients, technique, heat, placement in the pan .... incredibly useful and new information to me for the most part. Oh, I knew about the soft winter wheat requirement (Mama used Red Band) but I didn't realize how biscuits turn out differently based on whether they touch while baking or stand alone (I like mine uncrowded and crisp on the edges). And I learned much more.
I've always liked Natalie Dupree's cookbooks. They're among my favorite.
She has credibility .... not all cookbook authors do. I hope to get some credibility myself when it comes to making biscuits through this wonderful book.
First of all, I believe that whenever you buy a whole book dedicated to one specific subject, you are bound to get into the nitty-gritty of that subject... and I think it is those details and specifics that separate good results from great results!
This book has a whole myriad of different types of biscuits and scones to try out at home and each one has its own subtle little difference ranging from those that require many ingredients and relatively more time to prepare, to your quick biscuit fix recipes! I have to warn readers that when attempting the more complex (relatively speaking of course) recipes, don't cut corners like not brushing the biscuits with melted butter as it will seriously affect the moistness and taste of your biscuits. Granted, there is a lot of butter involved with biscuits and scones... but I guess readers already know that biscuits and scones are not the healthiest foods on earth.
I really found the introductory chapters really beneficial where the authors discuss the different materials that might be used and what affect each has on the finished product... I really think that this kind of information is the kind that adds to your understanding of the subject and makes you better in the field. I specifically found the information on low gluten flour especially beneficial as I have been primarily focusing on high gluten flour for baking breads... you wouldn't believe how much of a difference the gluten content of flour makes on the finished product! Also, I have always wondered why certain recipes used baking powder and others used bi-carb... the section on this really clears up any confusion as to why and how and when to use each! There are also some tips and recommendations on who to actually cut the biscuits using your cutter to help improve your results!
Overall, a very specific book for a specific audience who will undoubtedly find this book interesting to read and try the recipes in it... I'm sure everyone's technique and end results will benefit from this book.
There is over 10 pages explaining how to make biscuits. And many interesting recipes. The recipes are written so that a person who is a beginning cook can understand what to do.
My biscuits are now soft and flavorful instead of being hard enough to break a tooth on. Anyone looking for a cookbook for learning to make biscuits will want to check out this book.
I've been making them for years, but Jim told me yesterday that my batch was the best so far. I had used their shortening/butter mixing technique, moved the pan to the top shelf of the oven, and used their basic southern biscuit recipe.
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