December 22, 2012

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits



One of my favorite parts about Friday night is the anticipation of Saturday morning, and our delicious, lazy weekend ritual. We sleep a little late, and somewhere a bit before nine I might slip out of bed, turn the oven to preheat, and pull something out of the freezer to defrost. Then back to bed until the oven beeps, at which point we get up and Michael takes care of the coffee and I take care of the food. We recently got a Chemex coffee maker (though "maker" doesn't seem like quite the most appropriate word, since it doesn't actually make the coffee, it just holds it while you do the work) and Michael has been getting his coffee making down to a science. And if it's a really good week, then I've already prepared a batch of something that can be easily frozen raw, then pulled out in two portions at a time to be baked fresh - like scones, cinnamon buns, slightly different cinnamon buns, or more recently, these buttermilk biscuits.

I'm really proud of these biscuits. I've been experimenting with various biscuit recipes for a while, trying to come up with a light, flaky, soft, tender, buttermilky mouthful of goodness that can easily be split in half and spread with apricot jam or honey. Peter Reinhart's recipe gave me the folding technique to get the flaky layers. I found that swapping out cake flour for some of the all-purpose flour made them all the more tender. I also decided against using round cookie-cutters, because in my opinion that's a criminal waste of biscuit dough. I cook them at a lower temperature than a lot of recipes suggest, not only because the higher temperature sets of our smoke alarms, which definitely kills the weekend morning mood, but also because I think they brown more evenly. And I made the preparation process simple enough (it all happens in the food processor and then on the counter) that you could even make them on Saturday morning in barely more time than it would take to make the coffee.

I highly recommend weighing the flour, if you have a scale - it will allow you to be much more precise.