Sunday, 1 May 2011


I like eating biscuits and a while back I was craving them and ribs so last sunday I got together with some friends to do a little hee haw ass southern brunch. We did it up proper with two kinds of ribs, smoked country ham, mac & cheese, potato salad, biscuits, corn pudding, bread pudding, collards, apple pie and some bullshit ass hummus that a korean brought for no goddamn reason. Anyways this post isn’t about that, this is about biscuits. I really wanted some southern style biscuits and wanted to figure out how to make them super flaky and fluffy.
I initially started with this recipe for Black Pepper biscuits because it just sounded dope. These tasted good but were real heavy, just didn’t have the flakiness I was looking for. After that I decided to do more research wondering if it was the recipe or of I was fucking up.
Turns out it was both, my baking powder was like 3 years old (I don’t bake much) and apparently that matters, you want fresh. The other thing was the recipe telling me to bake them 2 inches apart, that’s stupid, they should be touching, it helps them rise. This makes sense but fuck I don’t know man I never made fucking biscuits. Someone else always hooked them up so I never knew how easy these things were to make. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up a batch of dough, fuck eating biscuits from a tube. Pillsbury is trying to rob your ass with their bullshit. Fresh biscuits are the motherfucking knock.

After this batch I started looking for southern biscuit recipes specifically. I found a lot of people were using southern self rising flours that I can’t buy in San Francisco and didn’t have time to order online. Then I found this post on Pinch My Salt explaining the differences in types of flour. Depending on the flour the percentage of protein it contains differs.
The reason that self rising flour works is the type of wheat used to make it. Southern flours are typically made with winter wheats that are softer than the hard spring wheats used to make northern flours. I didn’t know any of this fucking shit so I look at my flour and I’m using goddamn bread making flour. WTF, I don’t think I even looked at the type flour I was buying when I grabbed this shit. Bread flour has the highest amount of protein which weighs the biscuit down, pretty much the worst shit you can use.
Her post included a break down in flour percentages taken from a book that I should stop being stupid and buy. Using this breakdown you should mix flour types to achieve the appropriate protein percentage.  Everything made sense so I grabbed some regular all purpose flour and decided to try her recipe. I looked at the ratio of cake flour to all purpose and it seemed backwards. I didn’t make any exact calculations but mathematically I thought the amount of all purpose should be higher than cake. It’s whatever though, I tried her shit out just to see the difference.
The pinch my salt biscuits were a lot fluffier than the epicurious joints I made the first time, but there was a cakeiness to the texture of the biscuit. Also her recipe called for baking at 500 degrees, got them done faster but the bottoms of the biscuits were drier. After that I decided to go with my own bastardized biscuit recipe that was just a combination of all these recipes I had come across.  I used more all purpose flour, less cake flour, more baking powder and more butter. My last batch came out super fucking proper, hella buttery though so I can cut back on that but it had the rise, fluffy crumbly flakiness I was looking for. I still did the black pepper bit too.  I like pepper, it’s easy as fuck and a nice touch.
My last batch came out super fucking proper, hella buttery though so for the recipe I cut it to 3/4 stick of butter. A whole stick isn’t necessary and you could cut it down even more if you want but I wouldn’t do a 1/4 stick or less. Also with more baking powder there is a chance of a bitter taste but I didn’t have any of that. If you do cut down to 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda; you should be good with that.
Black Pepper Biscuits:
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk
  • Whipping cream
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

    Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F.
    Combine first 5 ingredients in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Transfer to large bowl. Gradually add buttermilk, tossing until dough begins to come together in moist clumps.
    Gather dough into ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface; pat out to 10-inch round, about 3/4 inch thick. Using 2 3/4- to 3-inch-diameter biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out 8 rounds. Place on baking sheet so that all the biscuits are touching. Gather dough scraps together; press out to 3/4-inch thickness and cut out additional rounds. Place on baking sheet.
    Optional: Brush biscuits with cream; sprinkle with coarsely ground black pepper.
    Bake biscuits until tops are golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.