Cornmeal Biscuits and Honey Butter

 

Hi, y’all. Sorry that it’s been a bit quiet around here for a while. I had company visiting and didn’t get around to getting up last week’s post. But things should be getting back to normal and on schedule now. I’ve got some recipes coming that I’m really excited to share in the coming week’s and today’s is one of them, so let’s just jump right into it.

Surprise!

Yet another biscuit post. You excited yet? You should be. Biscuits alone are exciting to me, but these especially since they feature one of my favorite ingredients to both bake and cook with: cornmeal.

I’ve said before that I have a mild obsession with cornmeal and the proof is in the amount of baked goods I’ve shared already on the blog. Take your pick, really. Cornbread. Yeast bread. Scones. Crackers. Some of it’s savory, some of it sweet. It’s a versatile ingredient and if you’re not familiar with it, allow me to strongly recommend you try to incorporate it into your baking routine. I think there are very few things that can’t be improved with a bit of cornmeal added to them.

I’ve shared a recipe for cornmeal biscuits on the blog before, but that one was also flavored with ginger and Chinese Five Spice to pair with some fried chicken that I also flavored with five spice. This time around, I decided to go with more ordinary, traditional flavors that would produce a biscuit that could go with any kind of meal.

So what’s the role that cornmeal plays in a biscuit? I’ve found that cornmeal (yellow cornmeal, that is) does two things to a biscuit: first it’s going to provide a contrast of texture that wouldn’t necessarily be in a biscuit made with just white flour. Don’t worry: it’s not at all going to be tough, but yellow cornmeal will make it slightly more grainy and chewy. Sounds weird, but I promise it’s marvelous. Second, yellow cornmeal has a natural savory flavor of its own. In the case of these biscuits, the cornmeal helps to further bring out the flavors of the salt and pepper in the dough.

Although these biscuits do lean on the savory side, I paired them with a smooth, honey butter spread that comes together in seconds. The butter brings a great balance between the savory & sweet of these biscuits as a dish and honestly, I could eat them all on their own without even needing to add them to a meal. If you try them yourself some time, you’ll understand why. Have a good week, everyone.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #241, co-hosted this week by Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

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Cornmeal Biscuits and Honey Butter

Recipe Adapted from Country Living

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Ingredients

For Biscuits

  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour, spooned and level
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For Honey Butter

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits, pressing and rolling the scraps together to make more biscuits two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place biscuits, slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. (You may have to cover the biscuits with foil if they begin to brown too quickly.

For the Honey Butter: Use a fork to briskly stir the honey into the butter until it’s smooth. Store in the fridge.

Glazed Yeast Doughnuts

One of the earliest food memories that I have is a love for glazed doughnuts. My mom’s taught Sunday School for practically my entire life and every Sunday morning on the drive to church I remember sitting in the back seat, still groggy, but also silently praying in my mind that she would stop by a cornerstore down the street from the church that sold the most delicious doughnuts for dirt cheap. My favorite one to get would be a plain glazed doughnut ring.

No sprinkles. No frills. No bells & whistles. A plain, glazed yeast doughnut was really all I would want. The Sundays when I got one were instantly brighter Sundays. Perfectly glazed doughnuts were delicious enough to do that all on their own–they still are.

I know there’s nothing quite like a glazed Krispy Kreme, especially when it comes hot off the belt. (Seriously, I’m drooling just thinking about it now), but I will also say that making glazed doughnuts at home can deliver the goods as well.

Last week, I gave my own personal definitions/differences between donuts and doughnuts: donuts are those made without using yeast as a leavening agent, much like these cake donuts. Doughnuts do use yeast as a leavening agent. In any case, that’s how I choose to define them.

I thought that a perfect glazed doughnut would be the perfect example to use for today’s post.

So aside from the inclusion of yeast, what makes yeast doughnuts different from cake donuts? The biggest difference is texture. Cake donuts are given that name for a reason: the texture is going to be soft, but dense. I think of it almost being like a coffee cake that gets deep fried, then dunked in cinnamon sugar. Yeast doughnuts are much more lighter and airier on the inside. See what I mean?

With yeast, there’s going to be a bit more time needed to set aside for the dough because unlike cake donuts, the yeast will need two rising times. The first is for the whole mass of dough, the second is for after you’ve shaped them into rings–OR, if you wanted to get creative with it, you can form them into cruller twists like you see in the pictures.

This dough is admittedly, lightly sweetened. It’s main flavors are vanilla and nutmeg–they’re simple flavors that leave plenty of room for the real star of the show: that glaze. After you dunk the still warm doughnuts in the glaze,  you then allow them to sit for a few minutes so that they can drip off the excess and allow the residual glaze to set.

Don’t they look just divine? I promise you that they tasted even better than they look, which is why I encourage all of you to give them a shot yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #236, co-hosted this week by Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

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Glazed Yeast Doughnuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Doughnuts

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk, warmed to about 110° F
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1—2 tablespoons milk (or enough to make a smooth glaze)

Directions

In a small bowl pour the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a small bowl combine the beaten egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment combine the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt and ground nutmeg until just blended. Switch to the dough hook. Pour in the yeast mixture as well as the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough is formed. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until it’s smooth and soft. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn it over once, then cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and gently deflate. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out doughnuts with a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter, or form them into cruller twists that you pinch at the ends. Remove to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let the doughnuts rise for 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size.

Meanwhile heat 2 inches of oil in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot to 350°. Prepare 2 baking sheets; one lined with paper towels, another lined with foil on the bottom & a wire rack on top. In a shallow, wide dish mix together the powdered sugar & milk with a fork. Keep the dish nearby.

Carefully place the doughnuts in the oil, 2 or 3 at a time, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds per side. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on the baking sheet lined w/paper towels. Wait 1 minute or 2 until doughnuts are warm (but no longer piping hot), then dip the tops in the glaze. Gently turn over and dip the bottom in the glaze before removing to the foil lined baking sheet on top of the rack. Allow to sit until glaze has set on doughnuts. Eat immediately or keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake Donuts

I think that it’s pretty safe to say that all of us love donuts/doughnuts, right?

If you don’t then you may as well stop reading because this post (as well as next week’s) aren’t really for you. This is for all of us who love donuts/doughnuts.

Why did I give it two spellings? Is there a difference between donuts and doughnuts? I’m not sure if there’s an actual technical difference in the terms, but I do know how *I* personally distinguish the difference.

For me, it really just comes down to the method/ingredients. When I think of ‘Donuts’, I think about the method that does not include yeast. ‘Doughnuts’ do include the yeast in the dough. Don’t ask me why this is. Both donuts and doughnuts create ‘doughs’, but my mind just automatically associates the yeast with the ‘dough’, so there it is.

One big difference between donuts made without yeast and doughnuts that are made with yeast is the inner texture. The donuts made without yeast usually use baking powder/baking soda as their leavening and produce a denser, ‘cake-like’ texture. As a result, these are often called cake donuts. Donuts made with yeast have a lighter, airier texture.

A few weeks back, my niece was asking me if we could make doughnuts together. Because I like giving her what she wants and because it had been a while since I’d made doughnuts myself, I decided to make a day long project of it. She couldn’t decide which one she wanted, so we ended up making two different kinds–Cake Donuts AND Yeast Doughnuts. Cake Donuts will be today’s post. (Yeast Doughnuts will be next week’s, so stay tuned for that.)

Cake donuts are a tad bit easier than yeast doughnuts to make since you don’t have to worry about dealing with yeast and rising times. I already described the interior as dense and cakey, while the outside is rough and craggy–this is perfect for catching up whatever topping you choose to put on them, whether it’s icing or sugar. The dough itself for these is flavored with lemon and vanilla. The cinnamon sugar topping I flavored with both cinnamon and cardamom, just to give it an extra spicy note to complement the sweet. In short, these were great. The sugary topping gave a nice crunch to the soft inside and the flavors were spot on. I really wouldn’t change a thing.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #235Fiesta Friday #235, co-hosted this week by Mara @ Put on Your Cake Pants and Hilda @ Along the Grapevine.

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Cinnamon Cardamom Cake Donuts

Recipe Courtesy of “Glazed, Filled, Sugared & Dipped” by Stephen Collucci

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Ingredients

For Donuts

  • 3 cups cake flour (all purpose flour will work as well)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Cinnamon Cardamom Sugar

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a medium size bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla extract with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Add the beaten egg and mix on low for a few seconds. Add the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined into a stiffish dough.

Place a piece of parchment paper on clean work surface and sprinkle it with flour. Flour your hands or a spatula and scrape out the dough onto the piece of parchment paper. Flour a second sheet of parchment paper and place it on top of the top. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out until it’s 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. Place the dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate it for 45 minutes to an hour (it’s ready when it no longer sticks to the parchment paper when you peel it away).

Towards the end of the refrigeration, heat 1 1/2-2 inches of oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 350°. Prepare 2 sheet pans; one lined with paper towels and the other with a piece of foil on the bottom and a baking rack on top. In a shallow dish, combine all the ingredients for the cinnamon cardamom sugar together with a fork. Keep the dish near your frying station.

Peel off the top sheet of parchment paper and flip the dough over onto your clean work surface that you’ve dusted with flour. Peel off the second sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the dough with more flour. Flour your cookie/donut cutter and cut the dough into 2 1/2-3 inch rounds.

Fry the donuts in batches (don’t crowd the pot, no more than 3 at a time) until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on the paper towel lined baking sheet. While the donuts are still warm (but not piping hot) toss them in the cinnamon cardamom sugar and place them on the baking rack lined sheet pan. Eat immediately, or store for up to 2 days.

Orange Spice Babka Ring

It’s been quite a week.

First, our A/C had a malfunction. Broken air conditioning + tiny apartment + upper floor = stuffy, hot misery. Plus, turning on the oven to cook or bake anything just wasn’t an option. Which, wasn’t fun.

Fortunately after 3 days, it was fixed and now things can get back to normal.

Orange Spice Babka Ring5

There’s a story behind today’s recipe. Ready to hear it?

I really needed to wash/condition my hair, but I also really wanted to bake. So I decided to do both. I made the dough, then left it for it’s first rise. I went away to wash/condition my hair. I came back, shaped it, then left it for it’s second rise. I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair. I came back and put the bread in the oven to bake. I blow-dried my hair. The bread finished baking.

And that’s it. That’s the whole story. I was multi-tasking. Pretty exciting, huh?

The ‘how’ may not be too enthralling, but I promise you everything else about this babka certainly is.

Babka’s made an appearance before on this blog a few years ago during the 12 Days of Christmas with this Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka Loaf. The word ‘Babka’ itself derives from Bábovka, a yeast based cake from Eastern Europe that manifests in German, Jewish and Polish baking. The dough is usually very enriched, buttery, eggy and spiced. There are countless variations out there and this time I decided to put a little different spin on it from the one I did before.

The last babka was flavored with cinnamon brown sugar and pecans. This one’s filling has a bit more: there’s brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger inside, along with some orange zest. If you’re fond of them, I did include an option to include golden raisins and walnuts to that mixture (I left them out of this loaf, but please do include them in yours in you’re a fan). As you can see, the filling forms a lovely ribbon on the inside once it’s baked, which brings me to the next step.

The method starts out the same as before: the babka dough is rolled out into a large rectangle after the first rise, the filling is sprinkled on top, then the whole thing gets rolled tightly into a thick cylinder. Then, you take a pair of kitchen shears or a very sharp knife and cut down the middle of the cylinder to create two halves. Those two halves get braided together.

Now, whereas before I arranged the braid straight into a loaf pan, this time I laid the braid into my tube pan and smushed the two ends together to form a ring. After you let the ring rise and bake it off, you get…this.

It’s perfectly fine on its own, but if you’re feeling naughty you can go ahead and add the orange flavored icing on top that literally takes under 5 minutes to throw together and drizzle on top.

I’m telling y’all: the extra effort that comes with baking babka is SO WORTH IT. You won’t regret a single step. I never do–not even when I’m multi-tasking with other things to do around the house. And you certainly won’t regret one single bite of this rich, spiced bread that smells and tastes like pure Heaven.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #234, co-hosted this week by Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

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Orange Spice Babka Ring

Recipe Adapted from Tyler Florence

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Ingredients

For Babka

  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For Filling

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of orange juice

Directions

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Add the remaining sugar, melted butter,  eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl and use the paddle attachment to mix well until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating switching to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all 4 cups, this varies according to location & time of year). Continue to mix until the dough holds together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl; the dough should still be very soft.

Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and use your hands to knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.  Grease the standing mixer bowl with the vegetable oil, place dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap and a damp clean cloth. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Grease and flour a 16 cup tube pan. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, orange zest together in a bowl. Sprinkle the work surface with a bit more flour and roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 10 by 18-inches. Brush it down with the melted butter, then sprinkle the sugar mixture on top. (You can use a spatula to help you spread it into a even paste if you like). If you’re using the raisins and nuts, sprinkle those on top of the sugar mixture.

Starting from the short end, roll the rectangle up tightly into a log. Pinch the dough ends firmly into the log to seal. Either use a very sharp knife you’ve dipped in water, or a pair of kitchen shears to gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers. Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral braid. Press the halves together again at the bottom. Gently lift the braid into the tube pan, arranging into a ring with the layers facing up, and tucking one end of the braid under the other. Cover with plastic wrap & a damp cloth and allow to rise for another 50-60 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour until your babka is golden brown (covering with foil if browning too quickly if need be). Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For Glaze: Mix the sugar and OJ together in a bowl, until the sugar dissolves. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps; drizzle it over the top of the babka and allow to set until hardened.

Vanilla French Toast

When it comes to the great breakfast carb debate, there are usually three major camps of people:

Team Pancakes, Team Waffles, and Team French Toast.

I’ve said already a few times that pancakes are my one true love, so if I had to pick a team, I would be on Team Pancakes. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have love for the other ones though. I like ’em all. I’m planning on getting a waffle iron pretty soon, so I should be able to start sharing waffles recipes on the blog then. But there really is no excuse for my not having any French Toast on the blog yet. So, I’m fixing that today.

Good French Toast starts with a great loaf of bread. You want to make sure it’s got a good outer crust, a dense inner crumb and can be sliced very thick. If your bread slices are too thin, then it’ll absorb too much liquid and the finished product will be flat like pancakes. No good. A few months ago I shared a recipe for what I’m pretty positive is the easiest loaf of bread that I’ve ever made. It was called English Muffin Toasting Bread and it produced a sturdy loaf with a coarse, close-textured crumb. I said back then that it would make excellent toast and it did…I also said that it would make perfect French Toast.

Turns out, I was right about that too.

The cream in the egg mix makes the toast cook up rich and fluffy on the inside. Before you even ask if the nutmeg is *really* necessary, I’m going to just stop you  right there and say a firm ‘yes’. It gives just enough spice to compliment the sweet of the vanilla and you DO need it.

Now I just said that good French Toast starts with a good loaf of bread and I’m going to say it again: good French Toast starts with a good loaf of bread. If you don’t feel like baking the English Muffin Toasting bread, I do know that Trader Joe’s sells a challah loaf that will also work well. As will store-bought Texas Toast. Keep in mind that because this is a very simple recipe with simple flavors, they’ll taste at their best when they’re given the best foundation–in this case, bread. So go with the good stuff.

Sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday #232, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

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Vanilla French Toast

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons rum (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 slices thick sliced bread (like Challah, Texas Toast, or English Muffin Toasting Bread)
  • Powdered sugar and maple syrup, for serving

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 285°. Place a rack on top of a sheet pan that you’ve lined with foil or parchment paper. Arrange the sliced bread on the rack, then place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. (This is just to dry out the top/bottom of the bread enough so that it isn’t overly soaked by the cream-egg mix).

Once the bread is done drying out, lower the oven temp to 250°.

In a shallow dish (large enough to fit about 2 slices) whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, rum and vanilla until smooth but not foamy.

Place the butter and oil in a heavy skillet and set it over medium heat. Don’t let it get too hot; if it starts to smoke, it means that it’s too hot and your toast will cook too quickly.

Place 2 pieces of the bread in the soaking dish, turn them over, and turn them over once more. It should take about 15 seconds, total; you want the bread to absorb the liquid, but not be too soaked/saturated.

Place the bread in the preheated skillet and fry it for 3 minutes before turning. It should be golden brown before you turn it—if it isn’t, you can SLIGHTLY raise the heat. Fry on the second side for about 2 minutes. Transfer it to the rack rimmed baking sheet and keep it in the oven while you finish frying the rest of the bread.

Once it’s all done, dust it with powdered sugar and serve with syrup.

 

Mile High Biscuits

So, a few days ago on social media, I saw some talk about their being a National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. I had no idea such a thing existed. I randomly Googled it and there are conflicting opinions on when exactly it is; some folks say May 14th. Others seem to think it’s May 29th. Personally, I don’t know and couldn’t care less what day it is–any day that’s set aside to celebrate the buttermilk biscuit is a-okay with me. I may be a little late to the celebration, but better late than never. The Biscuit Holiday Spirit is kept alive in my heart (and my belly) all year round, I assure you.

I don’t blow my horn about too many things, but one thing that I will not only blow, but blast from the rooftops about, are my biscuit making skills. They’re solid. I make excellent biscuits. It’s just a fact. This wasn’t always the case. I’ve mentioned many times before that my very first foray into baking, EVER, was an attempt to make angel biscuits. As I’ve also mentioned many times before, this was a tragic mistake. As I found out, making excellent biscuits isn’t an exercise for baking beginners. It just isn’t. There’s both a science and art form to it. Even after I became a decent baker, my biscuits still just ‘ok’ and not great, and I knew they were just ok and not great.  It bothered me. So, I started doing some research as to how to get the results I wanted: tender biscuits with LOTS of layers that rose high.

After nearly four years of baking, lots of practice, and even more ‘just ok but not great biscuits’, I think I can finally say that I’ve found the perfect method to making tender biscuits with lots of layers that rise high (and that last part was very important to me). I’ll go ahead and share all the tips I’ve learned to achieve them in celebration of National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. Some of them are ones I’ve mentioned before in other biscuit recipes I’ve shared on the blog–others are new. Regardless, pay attention and bookmark/save/pin this post so that you can go back to it later.

The first is an oldie but an essential goodie: freeze your butter. PLEASE. If you don’t follow any other piece of advice I give you, make sure that you follow this one. The use of frozen butter changed my biscuit making baking life. Why? Because great biscuits start with VERY cold fats–the colder the fats, the better they will be. The butter won’t melt/dissolve if it’s frozen. Now, frozen butter IS kinda difficult to cut, especially into even pieces. This brings me to the second tip: use a box grater to cut the frozen butter. Why? You want to make sure the butter is evenly distributed into the dough so that all of the biscuits have layers and are evenly buttery. The large holes on a box grater will cut the butter into the pea sized pieces you want that will evenly distribute into the flour without you having to rub them with your fingers–which may cause them to melt.

This third one I only recently started applying myself and it too was a game changer for me: use cake flour. Why? Cake flour is just flour that has a lower protein content than all purpose flour. It’s also been sifted many times, which results in a product with a much finer crumb. Cake flour will make your biscuits SO MUCH MORE tender and fluffy on the inside. I had read about using cake flour to make biscuits a long time ago, but for a while I just resisted trying it because it’s more expensive than all purpose. However, there is a DIY method to ‘making’ it yourself without having to splurge the special stuff.

Measure out 1 cup of flour. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour. Now add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift it together through a strainer about 5-6 times.

Boom. You have now made 1 cup of DIY, work in a pinch CF. Repeat the process for however many cups of CF you need for your recipe; I’ll usually do 4 at a time.

Fourth: place a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven while it preheats and keep it there while the biscuits bake. Why? Water and high heat create steam when they meet. Steam makes the layers in the biscuits expand and rise. Fifth: cut the edges off of your rectangle of dough before you cut the biscuits. I’ve found that the edges of the dough tend to be tough and compressed together after being rolled out and layered several times. The biscuits’ll rise higher if you get rid of them. Sixth: Don’t twist the biscuit cutter when you cut. Why? It collapses the edges, seals off the layers and the biscuits won’t rise. Cut straight down, then quickly lift it up and keep it moving.

Seventh: place the biscuits close together on the pan. Why? The closer they are together while baking, the more steam pockets that will form between them. Remember what I just said about steam? Mmhm. This is what will make them rise upwards and form tall biscuits rather than spreading outwards and cause them to be wide and flat. Eighth: Freeze them for 10 minutes before baking. Why? This is just to ensure that the butter in the biscuits is as cold as possible before it meets the very hot, steamy oven. The ‘shock’ of that cold-meets-hot ingredients will help the biscuits to rise higher and have more layers.

Aaaaand, that’s about it. It sounds like a lot of info, but in practice it’s not complicated. Just follow the recipe and apply the tips and you’ll be fine. Have a good weekend guys.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #226, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Mile High Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from CountryLiving.com

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups cake flour, spooned and level
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place biscuits, slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. (You may have to cover the biscuits with foil if they begin to brown too quickly.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Sometimes, I’ll mess something up in the kitchen. Happens to the best of us. But inevitably each time that I do, after I’ve tossed out the evidence and cleaned up the kitchen and sat down and given myself time to stew/pout/feel sorry for myself, I get this irrepressible urge to get back into the kitchen and make something else–y’know, just to ‘prove’ that the bad dish was just a fluke and that I do in fact have cooking/baking chops.

I know there are at least a few of y’all who can relate to that. It’s okay to admit it. This is a safe space.

Although there are days where things go left, I also have days in the kitchen that turn out the complete opposite, where I make something that is SO GOOD I want to cook and bake again just to replicate all of the deliciousness all over again. That’s kinda why this post is happening today. Something not only went well, it went so fantastic that I just had to have another go at it. That ‘something’ was last week’s recipe of this Chocolate-Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread. That stuff was legit, one of the best loaves of bread I’ve ever made in my life.

Clearly by the post stats, y’all thought it was pretty good too, so thanks for the love.

So, what are we doing here again you might ask? Well, first of all, I just really enjoyed the method of putting it together. Second, maybe chocolate and cinnamon aren’t to your liking (poor unfortunate soul that you are) and you need something a little bit different–here it is. Third, the method is easy and flexible enough to where any number of flavor combinations and ingredients could go into a pull apart loaf. This is just my second attempt at the method to see if this combination was a good one.

Spoiler alert: it is.

Just as I did before, I’m using my go-to Challah recipe for this, as it’s easy to put together with minimal ingredients, and also sturdy enough to stand up to the layering of the dough in the pan later. If you have another recipe for Challah or an enriched bread to use, that’s fine–you COULD also use frozen pre-made bread dough that you thaw for a real shortcut. Just make sure it’s a brand you trust and that you’ve got enough to fill two loaf pans.

Whereas the loaves from last week were spread with softened butter, chocolate and cinnamon, these loaves are spread with a combination of cream cheese, lemon zest, blueberries and white sugar. Just like before, the dough is cut into squares that are stacked together, than layered into a loaf pan. They don’t have to be perfectly arranged. The more imperfect that they are, the more they’ll make pieces good for ‘pulling’ the bread apart into portions.

Like the butter from last week, the cream cheese isn’t here to give the bread a ‘gooey-ness’ on the inside–it’s main function is to keep it nice and soft and fluffy. I love when blueberries bleed through baking–it gives the food a beautiful color as well as the flavor that works so well with the freshness of the lemon zest. I also sprinkled some white sugar on top of the loaf just to give it a layer of crunchy texture.

I knew this was a winner before I even sliced into it. It proofed up HUGE, and browned beautifully in the oven. The smells were divine. And the taste? No words. I wish I could bottle them up and send them through the screen to all of you.

Also, you notice how it seems like photo overkill this week? That’s because during the photoshoot I was so impressed with how gorgeous this thing looked that I couldn’t put my camera down. It was love at first sight. I’m trying to help all of y’all capture that same magical feeling I had. I’m trying to make you drop everything to go and bake this bread. Is it working? Good. Now get to it.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #224, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For Filling

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • White sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Use the paddle attachment to beat in honey, oil, eggs, and salt. Mix until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating switching to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all 8 cups, this varies according to location and time of year)

Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and use your hands to knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.  Grease the standing mixer bowl, place dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap and a damp clean cloth. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the cream cheese with the lemon zest and nutmeg in a small bowl.

When the dough has finished rising, turn out onto your floured work surface and punch down the risen dough. Divide in half and keep one half covered in the bowl while you work with the other.

Roll the half out into a 12 inch square. Use a spatula to spread HALF of the cream cheese mixture over the dough. Sprinkle HALF of the white sugar on top of that, then HALF of the blueberries on the sugar, using your fingers to press the blueberries down into the dough. Use a pizza wheel, bench scraper or sharp knife to cut the square into 16 small squares. Make 4 stacks of 4 squares each. Place each stack on its side into one of the greased loaf pans. Gently separate the dough layers so the dough fills the pan (it doesn’t have to be neat). Repeat this step with the other half of dough and the other half of the cream cheese mixture, blueberries and sugar.

Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels and allow to rise in warm places until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle the tops with the white sugar. Bake until loaves are browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then loosen with a knife around the sides. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for about 30 more minutes before serving.