Tips to turn out light, tasty biscuits

January 3, 2012 

Here are tips to turn out light, tasty biscuits.

Most recipes call for cold butter, but Lauren Vinciguerra lets it come to room temperature before rubbing it into the flour. Soft butter is easier on your hands, and the biscuits won't suffer. Also, Vinciguerra's dough is studded with pea-size chunks of cream cheese.

Use your hands to mix the flour-butter mixture into the liquid ingredients. "You stir around, making an eddy, adding more flour as you need it," Nathalie Dupree says.

Dough "wet like lava" makes the lightest biscuits, Dupree says.

When you're ready to clean the dough off your hands, rub them with dry flour.

Vinciguerra uses unbleached flour, a requirement of Whole Foods, which sells Callie's Charleston Biscuits. (They're also available by mail order from www.calliesbiscuits.com.) Dupree uses bleached flour because the biscuits bake up whiter. Both use White Lily self-rising flour, which has a lower protein content than flours sold in Northern states.

To make self-rising flour: For each cup, sift together 1/2 cup cake flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Whisk lightly or stir with a fork before measuring.

Dupree doesn't sift flour. "That's a nuisance. I simply take a whisk or a fork and lightly go through it." Stir lightly, however, or you will over-aerate the flour. Spoon the stirred flour from the bag or canister into a dry measuring cup, and level off the top with a straight edge.

Most recipes instruct bakers to cut the butter or other fat into the flour when combining them. Dupree uses a spatula and circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the liquid.

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