Thursday, September 12, 2013

Biscuits Worth the Effort (and Hamburger Gravy)

I've never been a big fan of making biscuits.  Actually, in all honesty, I don't know if I have EVER made them from scratch.  I cut out processed foods several years ago, so that negated my only previous option, which had been those canned kind that make the terrifying POP when you open them.  I think they tasted all right, but I don't really remember.  I knew that I liked good biscuits-- you know, the properly flaky, buttery ones that pretty much make life worth living-- but apparently that was never enough to push me towards making them from scratch.  Something about the butter having to be properly cold and cut small to make properly flaky dough just intimidated me.

Until...last week when I was at Aunt Sharon's, she made biscuits that were pretty much my favorite menu item from my entire visit.  They were exactly what a biscuit should be, and somehow I managed to keep myself from eating more than two.  But when I got home I insisted on being emailed the recipe as soon as it could be managed, and it arrived on my phone in picture message form today.  (Isn't technology great?)

So I set to work.  Here is the finished product: (Next time I'd just spray the pan instead of bothering with wax paper-- it made the bottoms cook a little too quickly.)
flaky homemade biscuits

I cut my biscuits into rectangles, primarily because it irritates me to use a circle cutter and have to reshape all the scraps.  This is much easier.  I paired these with what turned out to be an amazing batch of hamburger gravy, and we had about the most classic, comfort food down home cookin' meal you can make anymore.  Rob gave strongly approving reviews on both items, and let me tell you, that's a big deal for a man who actively dislikes having bread in his meals.

2 T. lemon juice or vinegar
1 c. heavy cream, cold
½ c. butter, frozen
1 ¾ c. flour
1 T. sugar
2 ¼ t. baking powder
¼ t. baking soda
½ t. sea salt

Stir the vinegar into the cream to acidify, then refrigerate to keep it cold.
Whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a mixing bowl.
Place a cheese grater over the dry ingredients and grate the frozen butter into the mix.  Stir loosely to distribute the butter.

**UPDATE: I used an electric grater like this one to do this and it was MUCH easier and quicker.  Highly recommended!  This little machine has earned its keep over and over again.**

Add the cream mixture and stir until all the flour is hydrated and the dough forms a coarse ball.  Add a tiny bit of cream if necessary to bring dough together.
Transfer dough to floured surface.  Press the dough into a rectangle (about ¾” thick), then fold into thirds.  Turn over, dust with flour, and repeat three more times. 
Roll out dough to preferred thickness and cut out biscuits.  Place on greased pan. 
Let biscuits rest in fridge for 15-30 minutes before baking for better rise.  While they’re resting, preheat the oven to 450.
Bake biscuits for 8 minutes.  Rotate pan and bake for 6-10 more minutes until tops and bottoms are golden.  Let cool a few minutes before serving.

NOTE: If using sprouted wheat, these will need to cook longer than if you use white flour.  They will look more done than the white flour ones before they are cooked through.

1 lb. hamburger
1/2 c. flour
2 2/3 c. milk
salt, onion powder, garlic much larger amounts than you think you need.

Brown hamburger until actually BROWNED, not just gray (adds flavor), adding copious amounts of the spices.  I used around 2 t. each of salt, onion and garlic powder.  Trust me, you'll need it to compensate for the bland flour and milk-- this makes ALL the difference between edible and awesome gravy.  
Add flour and stir to coat.  Stir periodically for several minutes until flour is browned-- you won't be able to see this, so just make sure not to add the milk until you've stirred for at least 3-5 minutes of browning time.  Add milk; stir periodically as it heats up and thickens.  Serve over biscuits, mashed potatoes, or whatever else you can imagine.


  1. hey! I sent that recipe to your aunt Sharon a few years ago! those are rhe bomb biscuts!
    they came from a Peter Reinhart bread book. i love the techniquebof grating frozen butter to cut in. works great on pie dough too.


    1. I still dislike the high maintenance butter requirements of biscuits, but at least in this recipe they're worth it. :-D

  2. I'm pretty sure that is not the recipe she used while i was growing up! It sounds amazing. Like i should make them for preps next year!

    1. You'd be the new head chef! Try shredding the butter in a food processor or something, because I'm almost positive you couldn't stick with it long enough to grate enough for a whole crew- my arms wanted to give out after one stick!

    2. If it would make me the head chef i shall never make them! haha that is a job i DON'T want!

    3. We love them! There is no longer any other biscuit at our house!

  3. i have used a grater attachment on a kitchen aid with success.


  4. This butter grating notion has just opened a new world for me. I wonder if I could actually make an edible pie crust. These biscuits sound amazing and I thought I was a pretty good biscuit maker.
    I use an ingredient a lot when making good comfort food like the gravy - worcestershire sauce. I like the depth of flavor it gives things.
    Might have to stop in to taste test your pantry next time I'm in the Valley - you do some wonderful sounding things!

    1. I used the grated butter idea on a pie crust in my Apple Pie DEFinitely made a flaky crust! That wasn't my exact preference for a crust, but if it's your inclination you should be pretty pleased with it. :-)