Monday 25 February 2008

Chasing away the Monday blues...

Its Tuesday and around here, that can only mean one thing -  time for Tuesdays with Dorie! This time, we got a break from the cake making and were tasked with making biscuits, a recipe chosen by Ashley from eat me, delicious. Given that at the time I heard what the recipe for this week was going to be I still had three quarters of a cheesecake sitting in my fridge, I was thankful to be making something that had a chance to be finished in this household of two.

Rather than leave this to the last minute, I decided to wake up early on Sunday morning to make these biscuits as an accompaniment to breakfast. Note I said "accompaniment" and not actually breakfast itself. You see, M's favourite meal of the day is breakfast. He often tells me in fact that he goes to bed looking forward to his bowl of cereal / granola / muesli in the morning. So you can imagine that replacing his cereal with biscuits would not have won me any popularity contests here.

In hindsight, I needed have worried. Contrary to some of the earl responses I read on the TWD blog, I thought the biscuits turned out beautifully. Whether eaten plain or with a generous helping of creamy French butter, the biscuits were divine. I had halved the recipe in order to minimize the amount of wastage, and all 7 biscuits were quickly devoured by M and myself. For those of you must know, M had 5 and I had just 2.

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 cup cold sour cream
1/4 cold whole milk
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a bow. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between-- and that's just right.

Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Grab a fork and gently toss and turn the ingredients together until you've got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gentle kneading-- 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together. Toss in the pecans and knead 2 to 3 times to incorporate them.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour, pat the dough out with your hands or toll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don't worry if the dough isn't completely even-- a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy. 

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of the first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working with them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits ca be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting-- just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14-18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.

Makes about 12 biscuits