There is nothing I like more than cooking with a roomful of sweet girls who are eager to learn. Their beautiful smiles are so refreshing. I was lucky that five new cousins all wanted to come by and learn to make biscuits over their Thanksgiving break. They used The Biscuit King biscuit recipe from my first blog post. This delightful adventure turned into a little Home Ec lesson…
1) Wash your hands for the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song.
2) Set all of your ingredients out on the countertop before you start.
3) Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work space for easy clean up later. You can buy a boxful of 1000 sheets for under $40 at restaurant supply stores. I use them to line cookie sheets and roasting pans and to wrap sandwiches. After two years, I’ve barely made a dent in this box.
4) How to measure dry ingredients:
Spoon flour into a one cup “dry measure” until it is heaped high above the rim.
Sweep the flat edge of a knife across the rim of the cup; what remains is a level cup of flour.
Measure salt in the same way, carefully filling the measuring spoon so it overflows a little and then using a knife to level the top. Never measure directly over your mixing bowl, tempting as that may be.
5) How to measure fats (Crisco, lard or butter):
Using a spatula, place a blob of shortening in a measuring cup and pack it in. Use a knife to remove the excess shortening off the top, so you have a level 1/3 cup.
6) Mixing ingredients:
Using two forks, or a pastry blender, mix the fat into the dry ingredients.
Mix together until the flour feels crumbly, and some of the pieces are the size of baby peas.
7) How to measure liquid ingredients:
“Liquid measures” are pitchers, made of glass or plastic, with a spout for pouring. To use, place the pitcher on a level surface, and measure liquid using the gradation marks on the side of the glass. Liquid measuring cups are used to measure volume not weight. In this case, we are measuring 8 fluid ounces (1 cup) of buttermilk.
8) The girls stirred the ingredients in their bowls for 15-20 strokes, just enough to get all the ingredients moist. Do not overmix or else the gluten protein in the flour will start to become too sticky and your biscuits will become tough.
9) Using a spatula, the girls scooped their mounds of dough onto the floured parchment paper.
The dough was a little too sticky to easily manage, so the girls added more flour to their hands, the rolling surface and the biscuit cutters. They rolled the dough out to 3/4 of an inch high.
10) The girls used a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter to shape the biscuits. Some of the dough was a little too sticky, and we simply dropped it by the spoonful onto the baking sheet rather than continue to add flour and mix it any further.
This was fine. The biscuits were all delicious! Great job girls!
On measuring flour:
Many of my grandmother’s old recipes list flour measurements in pounds instead of cups. Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you with pounds to cups conversions. I also did a little experiment- if you scoop your dry measuring cup into the flour instead of spooning the flour into the dry measure, the flour in the packed cup will weigh almost an ounce more. Something to keep in mind if you have recipes for cakes and cookies that don’t turn out well.
Special thanks to my lovely group of budding chefs who are in grades two through seven: Sirina, Amelia, Lara, Leela, and Ana! Special guest appearance by Alexander.
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© 2014 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.