The temperature outside has dropped into the sweater weather range and bakers all across the Midwest can now comfortably turn on their ovens without transforming their kitchen (or in my case, entire apartment) into the third circle of Hell. Bring on the casseroles, the soups and the gorgeous pies. I shan’t roast alive while making a pot roast!
Summer sings its swan song with these “Best-Ever Biscuits.” A bold naming choice from my grandma, but not one that I would argue. They are nice little multitaskers, serving happily on the sidelines or as a foundation for the main course (hello, chicken and gravy over biscuits, my old friend). As my grandma so wisely wrote, “Nothing is tastier than a biscuit hot from the oven. If a meal is not quite large enough, a pan of biscuits become a special treat.”
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (this is optional, depending on whether you’re going for a sweet or savory biscuit)
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Revel in the fact you can do this without turning the kitchen into a hot yoga studio. Sift together in a bowl the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and sugar (if added). Beat the egg in a separate bowl, adding the milk. Set aside.
Using a pastry blender (pictured above), cut in the shortening to the dry ingredients. PRO TIP: If you don’t have a pastry blender already, invest $5. It is the first line of defense in keeping your mitts from becoming butterfingers and we’ll use one for all of our upcoming pies (gasp, spoilers!). Mix the shortening and dry ingredients until you have a crumb-like texture.
Add the egg-milk mixture into the bowl, stirring until it’s just gathered together. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (I use a pastry cloth, available a most retail stores and not gas stations (if you were searching)). Very gently knead 12 times and 12 times only. Tender and flaky biscuits depend on you not manhandling them. Basically, pretend this is a first date and it’s all about eye contact and accidental brushes of the hand.
Roll or pat out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut out the circles of goodness with a biscuit cutter. Snuggle them up in a pan and bake for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Please be wiser than I and make sure you actually own a biscuit cutter before starting this entire process. A jam jar lid worked as a means to an end, but the biscuits featured are a wee bit pint-sized. No less tasty. A dab of butter or jam and you’re just a pot away from tea time. Cut up some of the last summer strawberries and its a rustic strawberries and cream. If the McDonald’s drive-through is longer than the line for the new iPhone (or if you’re saving for the new iPhone), you’re just an egg and cheese slice away from having a scrumptious breakfast biscuit. Hmmm, I’m loving it.