Here's a critical question: which is better for making biscuits--cream or lard? This question--the great debate, so to say--is the focus of biscuit-palooza. The challenge: find a great biscuit recipe that isn't too complicated, and produces biscuits that taste buttery, salty, flaky, and yummy in my tummy. To find the answer, my friend Jeff and I embarked on an epic journey. We tested three different recipes: one with cream, one with Crisco and butter, and one with butter and cream. All of these recipes had different prep difficulty ratings, which I will discuss. There's no time to waste. Let's get started.
PART 1. BISCUITS MADE WITH CREAM
Cream Biscuits - America's Test Kitchen / Cooks Illustrated
|2||cups unbleached all-purpose flour|
|2||teaspoons granulated sugar|
|2||teaspoons baking powder|
|1/2||teaspoon table salt|
|2||tablespoons minced fresh herbs|
|1 1/2||cups heavy cream|
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and herbs in medium bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups cream and stir with wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer dough from bowl to counter top, leaving all dry, floury bits behind in bowl. In 1 tablespoon increments, add up to 1/4 cup cream to dry bits in bowl, mixing with wooden spoon after each addition, until moistened. Add these moistened bits to rest of dough and knead by hand just until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Shape the dough into a round, 3/4-inch thick. Following the photos below, cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or cut into wedges with knife. Place rounds or wedges on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.
Mix all the ingredients (per the instructions above). Very easy.
Knead like bread until smooth. (These are Jeff's man hands, not mine). We hesitated a little here because we didn't want to over knead the dough. The recipe calls for 30 seconds of kneading. Use a timer, people!
Press into a pan. Easy, easy, easy. (These are my man hands).
Cut out biscuits.
Line 'em up.
Bake. The hardest part about this step is resisting the urge to stick my head in the oven every two minutes.
Open and slather with butter. Hey, that's me in the background!
And those are Anne's hands. (No comment). Thanks to Marcus for taking the photos!
The Verdict: these biscuits were TOTALLY EASY to make. No rolling or complicated techniques. The biscuits were creamy; though they were not flaky. I would say their texture compared to biscuits from Popeyes; they were hearty in a stick to your ribs way, but not as buttery as the biscuits at Popeyes (um, because there's no butter in the recipe). Despite this, they tasted great. And for the amount of work--about ten minutes prep--this recipe produces a biscuit that I would be happy to eat every day, if we lived in a world without calories and heart attacks.
Stay tuned for part 2 of biscuit-palooza. We'll be testing a Crisco and butter recipe.
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