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Saturday, January 13, 2007

The San Francisco Full-Flavored Holiness Biscuit Church With Signs


Finally, I've gotten this biscuit thing down. I think I have finally mastered the art of biscuit making (I know what you're saying: "yeah, so have I – it's called popping open a can of Pillsbury").

No, I'm talking real biscuits. High-caloric, high carb, high fat and damn good biscuits – so good your tongue will slap your front teeth out!

The best part: you don't have to use shortening. But you do use butter – real butter. And believe it's butter, not any of that "I can't believe it's not" stuff. F*&k that! Once you've had these biscuits, you'll be saying "I can't believe these aren't illegal!"

"Well, why do I care about biscuits?", you might wonder.

Oh, excuse me, but can someone please let this fool know that properly made biscuits are the pinnacle of traditional American cuisine and that if you don't know biscuits and jam with lots of melted butter or slathered over with sausage gravy, you cannot call yourself a lover of life, food, culture, Little Baby Jesus in a Manger, the Jewish G-d, Allah, the Dalai Lama, and Oprah Winfrey?

To put it bluntly, if you want to live to see tomorrow, you better start making them biscuits a little bit better than what you've been making them. I'm tarred of eating sloppy, slimy biscuits!

Well, enough biscuit blabber. Let's get to biscuit making, shall we?

Here are the tools you'll need:

A pastry cutter, preferably one with a wooden handle – (forget the food processor, I've tried that)
A biscuit cutter
A sturdy wooden spoon
A large glass or ceramic mixing bowl
Measuring spoons and cups
A wire wisk
A cookie sheet
A microwavable dish
A basting brush
A Silpat
A saucer
A timer
An oven
A large work surface (or a large wooden cutting board)
An apron
A Bluegrass or Old Time music CD or MP3

And here are the ingredients you'll need:

2 cups of All-Purpose flour (plus a little extra on the side for dusting, etc.)
1 rounded (almost 1 ½) tablespoon of baking powder
1 stick of Sweet Cream butter
1 teaspoon of salt (small grain regular, plain, not kosher or from the sea or some fancy gift shop in Monterey)
1 cup of regular, full fat milk

Here are the tips you'll need:

Keep everything cold
Keep everything floured
Keep your oven hot

First of all, when making this recipe, there are no substitutions. If you want to substitute an ingredient, spend countless hours of your own time and your own money and own sweat perfecting your own goddamn recipe. This is not a "healthy" recipe and this is not a motherfuckin' buttermilk biscuit recipe, so look somewhere else if that's what you want. (Sorry, I think I must be channeling the Fruitcake Lady or Samuel L. Jackson.)

Do you know the trouble I've seen to get to this point? Don't modify my recipe, fool!

Are you ready? Do you have your apron on? Are you ready to rumble?

Start your oven. 500 F. Yes, I said 500. But before you do, set your rack to the middle/upper-middle position.

Start your CD or mp3 player. Play loud enough to scare or simply annoy genteel, Lite Rock neighbors.

Put your silpat onto your cookie sheet and put it somewhere handy.

Next, take your stick of butter and slice all but 1 tablespoon into thin slices, placing the slices on your saucer and then sticking the whole thing in the freezer.

Put that leftover butter in a microwaveable container and melt it (1 minute should be plenty).

Let's measure out our flour, shall we? 2 even cups, sifted. Next, sprinkle the baking powder over it, then the salt. Using a wire wisk, wisk the dry ingredients very well for a minute or so to ensure that they are evenly distributed.

Grab that pastry cutter I told you about. Most brand-new pastry cutters cost around 5 or 6 dollars, no matter whether you buy it at Bloodbath and Beyond, the Dented Chef, or Sur La Table. If you pay any more than that, you're a sucker. Here's what one looks like.

Take your pastry cutter and about half of the butter that's been in the freezer and "cut" the butter into the dry ingredients as a quickly as possible without making a mess (please, use common sense – don't go buckwild). Next, cut the rest of the butter in.

Take your milk out of the fridge, measure out a cup, and dump it all into the mixing bowl while stirring everything with your wooden spoon. Keep stiring until the liquid has been absorbed (it might look a little wet, but that's okay – we're not making bread, we're making biscuits).

Flour your work surface, your biscuit cutter, and especially your hands very well. Leave a small mound of flour nearby in case you need it.

Dump the dough from the mixing bowl onto the work surface and pat out. Next fold over one or two times and then pat out again, but only pat out so that the dough is roughly 3/4" thick. Cut your biscuits by pressing down quickly and then pulling straight up. At no time do you EVER twist!

I use the large round biscuit cutters. You could use smaller, you could use square, you could use an old soup can – probably. Personally, I thought the investment of buying real, basic, round biscuit cutters (came in a set of different sizes, actually) was a good one for me. You may consider the same one day, if you haven't already.

Drop your cut biscuits onto your cookie sheet/silpat. It's okay to re-pat the dough until you've cut all the biscuits you can, plus I usually throw the little leftover piece on the sheet as well. Next, brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter (remember? That stuff still in the microwave?) and set them in the oven.

Next, set the temperature of the oven down to 450F and set your timer for 15 minutes.

Get out your jam, your conserves, preserves, jellies, butter, country ham, or whathaveyou. The biscuits should be ready to take out of the oven when your timer goes off. When the biscuits are golden brown and ready to take out, don't bother putting them in a pretty basket - just dig right in!

Eat these while they're hot because they're not as good cold. Don't burn yourself!

When you get good at this, it should only take about 30 minutes to make and the people you make them for will worship the ground you walk on.

I'm actually trying to get a few more worshippers myself. I have this idea of starting my own snake-handling church here in San Francisco, only we're going to add large dogs, sea lions, stray bullets and Muni drivers to our list of deadly things God can shield us from. We're going to baptize people in the Vaillancourt Fountain (after we've spray-painted some stupid shit on it first) and then cast out demons in the picturesque, victorian Garden Court of the Palace Hotel. Don't worry – we'll be a gay-affirming church. Just think of us as freakier Unitarian Universalists with a death wish and insatiable appetite for High Tea.

San Francisco is very much a cult-loving town, so I should have no trouble getting up a congregation, especially if they're enticed through my temple doors by the smell of freshly baked biscuits.

Repeat after me:

The biscuit is Righteous.

The biscuit is Knowledge.

The biscuit is Truth.

The biscuit is Salvation.

The biscuit is Supreme.

So say we all.


PS: I'm still getting the hang of this message moderating thing, so I apologize if you left a message and it didn't get posted right away. I just discovered where on Blogger they're located to approve/reject. Oh, and I'll probably just turn off the moderation thing and deal with the spam eventually - but I thought I would test it out to see if it was a pain or if it helped.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If those biscuits are your wafers, you have a convert waiting in line right now. My husband is a major biscuit eater, so I'm sure he'd come too.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about buttermilk biscuit but I found a key with baking powder biscuit super poofy/fluffy/light and airy with wispy layers...then once you have the made, cut and placed on a cookie sheet but the whole thing in the fridge to keep them cool until you are ready to pop them in the oven.

This tip (passed to me by my Mother-who I think discovered this by accident recently after many decades of biscuit making) has caused much celebration of the bp biscuits eaters in this abode.

I will be bookmarking for my food blog file.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahah! Success! I finally MADE your recipe today (I halved it since I was the only one home)and they were SO good I had to take some to the neighbors. They ARE perfect and finally, after years and YEARS of "trying" to make biscuits....you got me over the hump. THANKS a MILLION and a half. I'll send you pic to e-mail. I LOVED these melt in your mouth biscuits. /Cousin Marko

12:55 PM  
Blogger Dive said...


I'm glad they worked out for you!


1:04 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

Just reading this wore me out. I'm sticking to Pillsbury Flaky Grands. Eating in just 12 minutes with no clean up. Yep!

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A trick: Take the frozen stick of butter and shred it with a cheese grater. It then cuts into the flower very evenly and you have no big chunks.

They came out perfect! Even though I did use skim milk. It's all I had in the house.

3:21 PM  

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