My friend Kayte and I have been Twitterbaking from Nick Malgieri’s newest book, Bake!, for a month or so now. Margaret has joined us a time or two, and she eventually decided to buy the book. Once she got the book, we let her choose the next recipe, and she picked the buttermilk biscuits on pages 180-81.
I was excited to try this recipe, as I’ve never been particularly successful with biscuits. I’m not sure why, but pastry crust and biscuits are two things that have eluded me in my baking endeavors. Unless I cheat and use Bisquick or those Pillsbury biscuits that come in a can, my biscuits always seem to come out flat. Having seen good results from Nick’s other recipes, I was hopeful that these biscuits would help me break the curse of the hockey pucks and make a biscuit baker out of me.
The recipe is similar to Nick’s pastry dough recipes — the dry ingredients are combined in the food processor, then cold butter is cut in, and finally the liquid is added to bring the dough together. And as with pastry doughs, Nick warns that overworking this dough will result in tough biscuits.
Nick’s approach to shaping the biscuits is geared toward making sure you don’t work the dough too much. Rather than rolling out the dough, you pat it with your hands into a rectangle, give it a letter fold, pat and fold it a second time, then pat it out to cut the biscuits. I liked this approach, because in addition to the dough not getting overworked, the biscuits had a more rustic appearance.
So how did I do in my biscuit baking quest? Well, the first time I made these was a bit rough. For some reason, I grabbed pastry flour instead of AP flour. Pastry flour is much lower in protein, and the biscuits ended up lacking structure. Combine that with the fact that I was baking something else in the oven at the same time at a lower temperature than the biscuit recipe called for, and it’s no surprise that I wound up with very tasty, but kind of flat biscuits.
I made them again the other day, this time using the correct flour and oven temperature, and the result were much better. I still haven’t achieved biscuit nirvana, but I’m several lifetimes closer than I was before I found Nick’s recipe.