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Cook the Book: Angel Biscuits

Cook the Book: Angel Biscuits

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

Buttermilk biscuits are my Achilles' heel when it comes to baking. They're never light or even remotely fluffy enough, and most of the time are more like leaden scones or even worse, hockey pucks. I'm pretty sure that nearly every batch I've ever attempted ended up in the garbage after one taste.

But, never one to be discouraged, at least baking-wise, I tried these Angel Biscuits from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, also known as "brides biscuits," presumably because these fool-proof biscuits were designed for newly married ladies with little kitchen experience.

The recipe includes not one but three leavening agents—yeast, baking soda, and Southern soft wheat self-rising flour. Combining all of three makes for a biscuit that stays light even if you have a heavy biscuit-making hand. They aren't exactly like the crumbly, towering biscuits of your biscuit-making dreams; they're slightly breadier and have a bit more of a crust. But for those of us who are biscuit handicapped, they'll do just fine.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook to give away this week.

Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook by John T. Edge and Sara Roahen. Copyright © 2010. Published by University of Georgia Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Cook the Book: Angel Biscuits

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About This Recipe

Yield:about 30 biscuits
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (105º to 115ºf )
  • 5 cups Southern soft-wheat self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted

Procedures

  1. 1

    Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a small bowl. Set aside until the yeast looks foamy.

  2. 2

    Stir together the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut in the shortening until the pieces are the size of peas. Stir the buttermilk into the dissolved yeast. Stir into the flour mixture using a fork, just until moistened. Some or all of the dough can be refrigerated at this point. The dough is good for up to a week and actually develops more flavor over time.

  3. 3

    When ready to bake, lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set
    it aside. Knead the dough lightly, about six turns. Roll out on a lightly floured surface
    to a ½-inch thickness. Stamp out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter. (Don’t twist the cutter
    or the biscuits will rise taller on one side.) Gather, roll, and cut the scraps. Arrange the biscuits with sides touching on the prepared baking sheet. (This helps them rise higher and remain soft.) Cover with a damp lint-free towel or plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Let the biscuits rise in a warm place until they have doubled in bulk, about 1 hour if at room temperature or 1½ hours if the dough has been refrigerated.

  4. 4

    Preheat the oven to 425ºf. Bake until the biscuits are lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and serve hot.

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