This months Daring Baker’s challenge took us back to the basics. Right back to one of the first things that I ever learned to bake- biscuits. Well, to be more accurate, the challenge was actually to make “scones”. But! That was to make “scones” of the British variety which are what we American’s call biscuits.
Making biscuits is such an easy task. I wish that I wasn’t traveling when I prepared this so that I could have taken some photos of the process for you. It starts off very much the same as pie, cutting the cold fat into the flour. The flour mixture for biscuits usually includes baking powder (pie does not). Some biscuits use shortening, other use butter, and here is a favorite of mine that actually includes both. This recipe uses just butter. That is actually my preference. It’s much easier to worry about only one fat and I don’t miss the taste or different texture the shortening gives it. I also made a drop biscuit recipe that uses just butter too. An even simpler solution. Anyways, once the fat is cut in, the wet ingredients are introduced. With biscuits, this is usually buttermilk. Very rarely is it milk, but it does happen. The biscuit dough won’t come together very quickly, it tends to need some work. I find the best way to do this is to just dump the mixture onto the counter and knead it a few times until it comes together. But you’re not making yeast bread here! You only need to knead it a dozen times TOPS. Any more than that and the dough gets tough and gummy instead of fluffy and tender. Also, the more you work the dough, the warmer the butter gets, the less steam is made in the oven, the fewer layers of flakiness are made. So long story short, work with the biscuit dough as little as possible.
I just realized that this is going to be my third biscuit recipe on here! Hmm, think I’m a bit partial to biscuits much? Just a smidge ha I don’t know what it is. I’m from Upstate NY, no where near a home where biscuits were a tradition or a staple. Anytime that we had biscuits they were made by a dough boy and delivered in a tube from the refrigerated section of the grocery store… nothing authentic for my family. Since I’ve been making them for myself though, they make a regular appearance on our table. They are fairly quick to throw together, not like yeast rolls. And they are so satisfying. I just love biscuits.
I decided to give you two-for-one with this post. Kind of because I am thrifty, but mostly because I love you : )
I knew that I had to make biscuits this month for my blog, but since I already have two biscuit posts, I didn’t want to make another of the same thing. I thought I would try to use the new biscuit recipe as an element of a new recipe. That’s when I came up with the sausage gravy with biscuits thing. I have never had it outside of a few days ago when I whipped it together for this post. Honestly… it always kind of grossed me out. But I know that it is a big thing in the South so there must be something to it. And there was. This is coming from somebody that doesn’t really eat meat. My favorite way to eat biscuits is to slop up sauce from a dish so this was a match made in heaven. Plus it was SO quick to throw together. Or at least the gravy was. The biscuits are a learned art. I can throw together a batch in less than 15 minutes now, but my first few times ran me at least 30 minutes before they hit the oven. Even if it does take you a miunte to make the biscuits (or hell, you could even buy them!) this was pretty delicious. I can see why they like this so much down South.
- For the Biscuits:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ¾ cups cold buttermilk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- For the Gravy:
- 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- Salt and pepper
- For the Biscuits: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to distribute the ingredients evenly. Scatter the butter over the top of the flour mixture and pulse 4 or 5 times or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and pulse until the mixture just begins to come together.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Pat the dough into a ¾-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round cutter to make biscuits then place them on the prepared baking sheet. Press together the scraps of dough, and repeat process. Place the biscuits on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper; brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with black pepper. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter.
- For the Gravy: Cook sausage in a cast iron skillet or large saute pan. When done, remove sausage from pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Whisk flour into the fat and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally while the gravy comes to a simmer and thickens. (Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan, that’s where the flavor is.) Check seasoning, add crumbled sausage and serve over toast or biscuits