Michael loves biscuits.
I suck at making biscuits.
You see the problem.
Actually, biscuits and Michael go way back. He first learned to love them in the military where the best breakfast at Fort Benning was what Charles Emerson Winchester III so delicately called "Chateaubriand on a Shingle."
On walkabout, Michael worked as a handyman Down South for an old man who lived in a sheet metal shack and made the most divine fresh biscuits every morning.
In fact, Michael's first meal on our honeymoon was S.O.S. at the Flying J truck stop in South Dakota.
So naturally, he wanted his new bride to make biscuits now and then.
There was only one small hitch in this otherwise flawless plan. His new bride's experience with biscuits was limited to the hockey pucks her mother made. They hurt your mouth! It must be genetic, because each time I've tried to make biscuits since our wedding seven years ago, mine came out all hockey puckified too.
When you're a reluctant cook like me, cooking is not fun. It's necessary. It's rewarding. But when you know all your efforts will be for naught, it gets downright depressing.
So when last week Michael thawed the ground sausage and turned his Baby Blues on me to beg for biscuits....I sighed deeply and headed straight to Google.
Biscuits may be the bane of my existence...but I love kitchen hacks. There's gotta be a hack, thought I. Something to elevate the horrible bricks I usually make to light, fluffy, buttery transcendence. My bread used to be boat anchors and I figured out the hacks to make it good. Surely, biscuits would be even easier.
There it was. A hack so simple stupid I'm heartily ashamed of myself for not figuring it out seven years ago.
Lamination. That's the hack! The same hack used in croissants and puff pastry. Lamination.
Very simply, you create layer upon layer upon layer of cold butter between layers of dough. When the heat of the oven hits the butter laminations, poof! They rapidly expand creating the light flaky, buttery texture so beloved in biscuits.
Step #1: FREEZE YOUR BUTTER!
And you thought I was going to say preheat the oven!
NO! In fact, don't preheat your oven. Not now, anyways.
I chose the recipe from SugarSpunRun.com but feel free to use your favorite biscuit recipe. What matters most is not what recipe you use, but how you treat the recipe.
While your butter is freezing, combine the dry ingredients.
The next hack is to shred the butter. Yeah, that's right. Just like you would a carrot. Work quickly so the warmth of your hands doesn't melt the stick of butter you're grating. (I tried the Parmesan grater as well. The butter stays cold but it clogged up in the spinning shredder drum.)
Add the still-frozen butter shreds to your dry ingredients along with the liquid called for by the recipe. I used whole milk. Buttermilk and/or beer are also great ideas! If you don't have buttermilk on hand, simply whisk some sour cream into regular milk. Voilà!
Combine the batter just enough. Don't overwork it and work quickly so the warmth of your kitchen and/or hands doesn't melt the frozen shredded butter.
Now we laminate, Baby!
On a well-floured surface (or a chilled marble cutting board if you're lucky enough to have one, like Julia Child!), roll the dough out and fold it over. Turn it 1/4 turn. Roll and fold. Roll and fold. Roll and fold. The more folds, the more layers, the more laminations, the higher, the puffer, the flakier and the softer your biscuits will be. But work quickly! You don't want your butter to melt.
Done laminating? Then roll the dough out to 1" thickness and cut straight down with your biscuit cutter. Do NOT twist the cutter or you risk sealing your laminations together on the edges of the biscuits.
By a happy chance, the way my kitchen is constructed, I cannot preheat my oven because my stovetop oven stands on the camp stove on the same work surface I use for rolling the dough. It's a long story but it worked to my advantage with this recipe. After cutting your biscuits, pop the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes.
NOW it's finally time to preheat your oven to 425° F.
Bake the chilled biscuits until the bottoms are golden and the tops just beginning to color. The recipe says 12 minutes so, of course, it takes my silly oven half an hour! We're cooking by log, lead and lookout here!
The result should be what Michael calls, "as good as Down South" and you don't get higher praise than that. High! Flaky! Soft! Buttery!
Finally, the biscuit dragon has been slain!
Bon Appétit and Happy Laminating!
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I dislike cooking but since I'm obliged do it, the result must be spectacular or it's a waste of time and effort. That's why I seek out the best dishes and culinary techniques to test and perfect before sharing them with you!