Saturday, November 5, 2011

When the leaves start to turn and the weather cools, there is this natural urge to bake.
I start to  crave bacon. Unfortunately, one of my favorite things. Go figure, it would have to be bad for me. 
And with the handy tip of cooking your bacon on a broiler pan in the oven so that the grease drips down into the bottom, away from the meat, and you can cook thirteen slices at one time, I eat more than I should.

 If you set your oven to broil, the bacon gets done faster, but the tips of each slice gets a bit burned. If you've a bit more time, bake at 350 Fahrenheit and those burnt tips are no more. 

When I buy bacon, (yes, I'm out of home-cured bacon), I cook up the whole package and freeze it. That way I can re-heat the bacon in a pan or microwave and it is ready when the fried eggs are ready. Or I can add it to a baked potato, soup, souffle, etc. etc. etc.
And what goes great with bacon, biscuits of course.
I'll give you tips for making biscuits today and later I'll give you recipes.

These are buttermilk biscuits make with butter, but I have a simple recipe for heavy cream ones that the cream is the liquid and the fat in the recipe, and another biscuit recipe that is sweet. I believe in being prepared. This variety of recipes allows me to use whatever is in the cupboard. Or for some of you, whatever is on sale at the store. 
So lets get started, here are some basics you should know about making biscuits. Tips courtesy of Cook's Country magazine and others from yours truly, ME.  

Fundamentals of Making Biscuits

Test Baking Powder
Baking powder begins to lose potency after six months. Put 2 teaspoons into a cup of water. If it foams and fizzes immediately, your good to go; if the reaction is delayed or weak, buy a new can.

Preheat The Oven
Don't neglect this, Biscuits need an initial blast of high heat to rise properly, and it takes most ovens 15 minutes to get up to temperature. ( It's not a bad idea to check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer.

Combine the dry ingredients with the butter and shortening in the food processor, or mix with pastry knife, or two knives used in a scissor motion. Using your warm hands can melt the fat, which results in a greasy biscuit. Do gently stir in the liquids by hand. Do not use a food processor as this over mixes the dough and will cause development of the gluten and toughening of the texture.

Biscuit Cutters
Makeshift cutters such as juice glasses produce rounds that rise unevenly, the rounded lip compresses the edges of the cut biscuit. Use biscuit cutters or cookie cutters with a straight edge.

Flip Biscuits
After cutting, flip the biscuit upside down on the baking sheet and put it in the oven. With the flat underside now on the top, the biscuits will rise evenly.

To spice up your biscuits you can add parsley, /or chives, /or 2 thinly sliced scallions and ½ cup cheddar. Then again you may choose Swiss and caraway/ or ¾ cup Parmesan and 1 teaspoon coarsely ground peppercorns.

Biscuits Gone Bad
Falling to pieces
Over processing the dry ingredients with the fats makes for crumbly biscuits.

Tough Guy
Warm fat, no kneading, and a cool starting oven can all result in short, tough biscuits.

All Askew
Placing the rounds onto the baking sheet right side up leads to lopsided biscuits.

Happy Baking!!

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