Friday, February 21, 2014

Back to Basics With Buttermilk Biscuits

My Buttermilk Biscuit recipe came from my 1973 edition of The Joy of Cooking. For the fat, it calls for the use of either lard or butter. I have always used butter. Great! Luscious buttery flavor! Done!

Today I decided to use lard. (Read here for my lard back story.)

The dough was so easy to work with!

The biscuits' flavor and tender texture were--dare I say it?--better than with butter!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Stir together:
1¾ C whole wheat flour
¾ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. sugar
Cut in:
¼ C (2 oz.) lard
⅔ C buttermilk or sour milk (2 tsp. vinegar plus milk to equal C)

Lightly mix together the dough. Then turn it onto a lightly floured board. Knead it lightly for ½ minute. Pat the dough to the thickness of ½ inch. Cut with a biscuit cutter.

Place the biscuits close together—not quite touching—on an ungreased baking pan.

Bake in preheated 450°F oven for 10-12 minutes.

By the way, the name of the recipe notwithstanding, I always use sour milk. It works just as well as buttermilk and is lots less expensive. If you have buttermilk on hand, you might as well use it. I never have it on hand.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"I Want Just White Cookies."

Libby and I were making dinner, including, of course, dessert. I asked her what kind of cookies or brownies we should bake. She said, "I want just white cookies, with nothing in them." This was surprising! After all, she is her mother's daughter and my granddaughter. I was really expecting something to do with chocolate.

She said she ate cookies like this when she was with her mom at her mom's friend's house. Okay! So I googled "cookies" and we looked at cookie images ... until we came to this. She said that's what the cookies looked like. So we went to the site and found a recipe for Sugar Cookies that looked very promising.

I wish I had pictures of Libby and the cookies. That 6-year-old girl did a great job measuring, mixing, (I did the scooping) gently pressing the scoops of dough, and sprinkling sugar on them. I had a different focus while we were baking the cookies, so I failed to take pictures.

Libby declared the cookies good. Whew! They were what she had in mind. Hooray!

I loved the cookies, too. But I wondered if I could use white whole wheat flour rather than all-purpose flour. That gave me just the excuse I wanted to bake (and eat) Sugar Cookies--by using white whole wheat flour!

The answer is yes.

They have all of the buttery, vanilla-y, sugary goodness of the all-purpose flour version. Except for the bit of texture the bran gives--which I really like--I bet no one would guess these are made with white whole wheat flour. They're just delicious.

When you go to Blissfully Delicious you  will find the recipe. You will see that it was slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies. My recipe is slightly adapted from Blissfully Delicious, and I call them

Libby's Sugar Cookies
3 C (12.8 oz.) all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C packed light-brown sugar
1 C unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
Mix butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in a mixer with paddle attachment, about 2-3 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then vanilla extract. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
Scoop dough, rounding slightly; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with the bottom of a cup swished in sugar. Sprinkle tops with sugar.
Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. (This sounds like it could be true, but I'll never know. Cookies never last that long in my house.)
Yield: About 3 dozen cookies
I don't have an ice cream scoop, so I just gently rounded the spoonfuls of dough.
I used the bottom of a cup swished in sugar to gently flatten the tops of the cookies. Then I sprinkled regular white sugar on top, using my fingers.
Cookies cooling on the rack. I left them in the pan (sitting on a cooling rack) for 5 minutes. Then I took them out of the pan and removed them from the parchment paper.