Continuing with my plan to learn to bake delicious biscuits this summer, last night I decided to try Alton Brown’s recipe. (If you’re not following him on Twitter yet, you should… @altonbrown is pretty entertaining). Alton would never lead us astray with a recipe, although he might take us down some convoluted roads that involve jumping through flaming hoops and battling fire-breathing dragons to get to our destination. Surprisingly, though, his biscuit technique wasn’t difficult.
The more I thought about his recipe, the more I realized that it’s basically the same as the White Lily recipe, with minor adjustments. The main differences are the amount and type of leavening agents (he includes baking soda as well as baking powder), and an increased amount of liquid (I also went for the buttermilk as he recommended, which means I have to find a way to use up the remaining half gallon in my fridge, which means next week I will be attempting fried chicken). He also uses a half butter/half shortening fat mix, while the White Lily recipe just wants you to use shortening.
The verdict? Well, they look the same as the last batch. They rose just as well as the White Lily version. And they tasted just as good, especially warm, right out of the oven, slathered with more butter than I will admit here in public.
Despite the similarities, I was somewhat disappointed. I’m getting the same results with different recipes, which isn’t a good thing in the kitchen. I know I’m rolling out my dough too thick, because the biscuits are a bit too tall for my taste – I want a biscuit that’s about half the height. Not that I don’t want my biscuit to rise, mind you, but I want them a more manageable portion size. I also want more flavor, which tells me I should start adjusting the other ingredients (especially salt and butter).
As I pondered this last night, I just so happened to flip through my latest summer book purchase: Artisan Breads Every Day. I bought it so I could figure out how to make a decent set of yeast breads, and I’ve realized after reading the introduction that this is going to be an essential cookbook in the LBDelicious kitchen. It has a recipe for all kinds of breads, with special instructions and rationale about each technique. One of the recipes in the book is for “The Best Biscuits Ever.” I’m guessing if Peter Reinhart says they’re the best biscuits ever, they probably are. So, that will be my next attempt. The formula is vastly different than the White Lily and Alton Brown ones. Heavy cream is involved (like B’s mom’s recipe, which is also on my list) as is sugar (a new one, but most good Southern recipes involve some amount of sugar – except cornbread – so I’m not knocking it until I try it). More to come.
By the way, feel free to tell me your mama’s and grandmama’s recipes either in the comments or via email. I’m on the search for the best, after all, and need your help.