Monday, January 11, 2010
1/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 to 2 cups milk
5 cups flour (I use 3 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large measuring cup with a pouring spout. Let it sit while you stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. When the yeast and water looks creamy, stir in the milk. Now back to the dry ingredients, mix in the butter with your hands, or a pastry mixer if you don't like to get messy, I use my hands and crumble/rub the butter into the flour.
You are trying to get a coarse crumb texture. When it's there, quickly and gently stir in the yeast/milk mixture adding only as much as you need to get the dough to come together. As soon as it starts to come together into a rough ball, dump it out onto a floured surface and knead quickly 5 or 6 times.
The goal is to get it fairly smooth without overworking it. Always err on the side of underworked if you are unsure how much to mix it. Biscuit dough needs to be handled as little and as gently as possible to keep it tender. Too much handling will activate the gluten in the dough and you will have the dreaded hockey puck biscuit problem.
Next you want to pat it out so it's about 3/4 of an inch thick. I like thicker biscuits so if you want thinner ones, aim for 1/2 an inch. Cut them out with a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass and arrange them on your baking sheet.
If you like softer biscuits place them so they are touching each other and for crispier ones, set them a bit apart. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rise for 30 minutes to an hour. Slide the sheet into a preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. They should be brown and crusty and everyone will be standing there with their plates. These are seriously good biscuits folks!