Wylie Dufresne, celebrated mad-scientist chef of NYC's WD-50, has a thing for Popeyes fried chicken. So much of a thing that he reportedly served it at his wedding. So for Lee Brian Schrager's cookbook, Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides, Dufresne was given a mission: recreate those golden tenders and buttery, soft biscuits, because Popeyes is not about to cough up their recipe! Unsurprisingly, Dufresne rose to the challenge, though with stipulations to keep his molecular techniques at bay so that the average cook could achieve the same results at home. You might be able to guess how this ends...with fried chicken and biscuits that puts the original inspiration to shame, or at least firmly into second place.
Wylie Dufresne's shortening-based biscuits boast a delicate, pillowy interior surrounded by a gently crisp crust. I was dubious about the addition of powdered milk to the mix, as this can sometimes toughen baked goods, but it most certainly did not; it added just the right amount of sweetness and a pleasant, subtle cooked-milk flavor.
However, I did encounter a couple technical problems: I found the converted measurements of the dry ingredients for the biscuits to be off. Since Dufresne created the recipes using weighed amounts, those are what I went by. For the given weight of flour, however, I measured 3 1/2 cups, as opposed to the 4 cups listed. And even more significant, it took double the amount of powdered milk (1 cup) to meet the weight measurement; this varies tremendously, I imagine, depending on the coarseness of the brand you use. The biscuits were perfect using the weighed amounts, so stick with those.
Also, the recipe says it makes 12 biscuits, but I could get at most 6 plus scraps out of the single batch of dough. There is enough dry base for a second batch, so maybe that's where the count got confused. If you want a dozen, use all the dry base and double the wet ingredients, and I suggest brushing the tops with more melted butter once they're out of the oven for an even more authentic Popeyes experience.
Reprinted from Fried & True by Lee Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Copyright (c) 2014 by Lee Schrager. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC.
- Yield:Makes 12 biscuits (with enough flour left over for a second batch)
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- For the Biscuit Base
- 4 cups (17.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (2.11 ounces) nonfat powdered milk
- 4 teaspoons (.7 ounces) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (.176 ounces) salt
- 1 packed cup (5.7 ounces) vegetable shortening
- For the Biscuit Mixture
- 3 tablespoons (1.67 ounces) sour cream
- 3 tablespoons (1.75 ounces) buttermilk
- Scant ½ cup club soda (3.527 ounces)
- Melted butter for brushing the biscuits
Make the biscuit base: Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl sift the flour, milk powder, baking powder, and salt. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until small, pea-sized pieces remain. (The biscuit base can be refrigerated and stored for up to 1 month.)
Make the biscuits: In a large bowl mix half the Biscuit Base (about 2¾ cups) with the sour cream, then add the buttermilk and club soda and gently stir until just incorporated. On a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the dough to ¾-inch thickness and generously flour the top. Using a three-inch biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake the biscuits: Brush the biscuits liberally with melted butter and bake until lightly golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Serve immediately.