Welcome to the 400th Metamorphosis Monday!
Wowza! Where have these last 400 weeks gone? I’ve enjoyed every single one of them with you! Here’s to the next 100! We’ll have to plan something fun for when we hit 500 around two years from now. 🙂
Best Biscuits (A recipe from the book, Heart of the Home, by Susan Branch)
So you know those recipe blog posts you see in Blogland where the food looks absolutely amazing in the finished photos, like something right out of a magazine or a Martha Stewart book? This is not one of those posts! lol
I’ve been hoping to try a recipe from Susan Branch’s Heart of the Home book ever since I read her book, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, and learned that Heart of the Home was the very first book she ever wrote.
The recipe I decided to try first was her “Best Biscuits” recipe. I’ve been hoping to find a home-made biscuit recipe that was easy because I really dislike the taste and texture of store-bought biscuits, canned or frozen.
Here’s a close-up of the recipe in case you would like to give it a try. (Hit Ctrl + on your keyboard a few times for a closer view, then Ctrl 0 (zero) when you’re done.)
Just as Susan has done in all her books, she hand-wrote and hand-illustrated this delightful book. Oh, and when you see my biscuits, don’t judge the recipe by how mine look! lol Fluffy–they’re not, tasty–they are!
These were the ingredients needed for this recipe: Unbleached Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, heavy cream and butter. I was surprised to discover that the butter doesn’t actually go in the biscuits, you just use it for brushing on the bottoms and tops.
This is such an easy recipe! You start by dumping all the ingredients (except the cream and butter) into a bowl and stirring them with a fork. Below are the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in their pre-stirred state.
Next, you add the 1 to 1-1/2 cups of cream a little at the time “stirring constantly” per the directions. This part made me a tad anxious since there’s a pretty big difference between 1 cup of cream and 1-1/2 cups of cream.
I instantly thought to myself, this is one of those “eyeball it” recipes where you add the ingredients a little at the time, eyeballing it as you go looking for that magic moment when you’ve hit the perfect consistency. Uh-oh. Since I’ve only made biscuits from scratch maybe once before a gazillion years ago, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to spot that perfect moment when it arrived.
I decided to not use my mixer since the recipe never mentioned a mixer (only a fork) and I was concerned a mixer would over-stir it. I quickly found I couldn’t really add the cream at the same time I was “stirring constantly,” so I settled for adding a little cream, sitting the cream down, stirring, adding a little more cream, sitting the cream back down, then stirring some more. Ummm, maybe I should use my dough-hook thingy that came with my mixer next time and add the milk as it stirs the dough for me.
Eventually the dough became way too thick for stirring, but still looked too dry to my neophyte, biscuit-making eyes. At that point I used my clean-hands to “stir” in the cream until the dough looked like this.
This is how much cream I had left over in the end, having started with 1-1/2 cups. So I used a little shy of 1-1/4 cups of cream.
I placed the dough on a floured-cutting board and kneaded it for approximately one minute, as stated in the directions. I added flour occasionally to the cutting board whenever the dough began to stick to the board.
Next, I patted the dough flat to about 3/4 inches thick. I was super tempted to get out my rolling-pin for this part but the directions said to pat, so I stuck with that. That’s one of the things I had liked about this recipe: besides having so few and such simple everyday ingredients, you didn’t need much of anything to make it, not even a mixer or a rolling-pin.
I think I may have left the dough a bit too tall in some places. The next time I make this recipe, I’ll probably break out the rolling-pin since the height of my biscuits varied quite a bit. A talented “patter,” I’m not! 😉
Update: Just read online that you’re never supposed to use a rolling pin…scratch that idea!
The first biscuits I cut out looked pretty uniform, but after squishing the left-over dough back together and patting it down once again, the next biscuits I cut out looked very uneven. I thought the unevenness would sort itself out during the baking process. Uhh–nope! That turned out to be a false hope as you’ll see in just a sec. That little guy on the top row was my left-over dough in the end.
I brushed melted butter on both sides of each biscuit and popped them into my preheated 425° oven.
Okay, I know they look a little funny, but they taste delicious! I have a feeling I did something wrong though because “fluffy” isn’t an adjective I would use to describe these. My flour was brand new and my baking powder was nowhere near its expiration date. So, all of you way-more-experienced, biscuit-making bakers out there: what did I do wrong? Did I knead a little too long? Use a little too much cream?
These biscuits are really good so don’t let my funny-looking results deter you from trying this recipe. I will definitely be making them again!
You’ll find Susan’s beautifully illustrated, hand-written book available here: Heart of the Home: Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen
Since I plan to make these biscuits again, I’ll be experimenting with how much cream I use, how long I knead, etc… so appreciate any suggestions. I’ll share a photo each time I make these because I’m hoping they’ll get both prettier and fluffier as I work to decipher the art of biscuit making. 🙂
Update: A 30th anniversary edition of Heart of the Home, has been released recently and you’ll find it here: Heart of the Home, Notes From a Vineyard Kitchen
Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters for this Met Monday!
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