Celebrating Black History Month…with the biscuit cutter

OMG anyone who knows me knows to never eat my biscuits.  <sigh>  YES, meaning they are that horrible. I just can’t get it.  I suck at it AND I TRY SO HARD (pathetic sad face).  Oh as I lay on the floor in a big X surrounded by a variety of flours, I think to myself…why me?  Well, a few biscuits turned cookies or whatever they may be is not going to stop me from figuring it out (confident smile, yet still secretly crying on the inside).

Circling through a few readings, I decided to write about one of my many loves…biscuits!

Buttermilk-580px-1.jpg(photo credit: blog.sanuraweathers.com)

Noticed I said cookies.  Now in some regions outside of the US and Canada, crisp biscuits are considered cookies.  So like I said, unfortunately I’m skilled at constructing a tray of ‘cookies’ LOL Now, there are many types of biscuits. There are angel biscuits (these contain yeast), drop biscuits, rolled biscuits, short cakes, cookies and scones…of which I don’t believe in.

Biscuits have been one of the many staples at the Southern/Soul-Food table since the mid-18th century.  As mentioned, the classic Southern Bread comes in a variety of styles. Often referred to “quick breads” – not needing time to rise, they consist of baking powder or baking soda as a chemical leavening agent rather than yeast. As the biscuit has evolved over time, so has the process of making them.

Now naturally after the civil war, many African-Americans entered the food industry. How could they not, they were the heart and soul to so many kitchens across the world. These marvelous masterminds also created many food-related inventions such as the egg-beater, ice-cream scoop, lemon-squeezer, biscuit cutter and much more.

biscuit_cutter.jpg

On November 30, 1875, Alexander P. Ashbourne, a successful African-American dry goods grocer from Oakland, California patented his biscuit cutter. Native of Philadelphia, PA (1820-1915), Mr. Ashbourne created the spring-loaded cutter that included a board to load biscuits and unload them with ease. There was a metal plate with various shapes the cook could push down on the plate to cut the dough into varied shapes. The idea of the cutter was because he thought the biscuits had no “fun” shape to them.

 

ashbourne-biscuit-cutter.jpg

 

Nowadays, cutters are relatively similar to cookie cutters, but thicker to withstand the solidity of the biscuit dough. The average cutter is made out of either metal or plastic with their sides being either straight or fluted. The purpose of the biscuit cutter is to make certain that each biscuit is the same size allowing them to cook evenly.

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Well, with all that biscuit talk, I couldn’t just leave you without sharing some fabulous recipes.  Let me know how they turn out or feel free to share your own.  And as for myself, TRUST the day I do not OVER KNEAD my dough and create a beautiful tray of delicious SOFT biscuits I WILL POST IT!  Wish me luck everyone! LOL

alvin hester.jpg(photo credit: artist – Alvin Hester)

RECIPE:

Biscuits

Edna Lewis’ Hot Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits

5 cups sifted White Lily flour (measured after sifting)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1/4 pound) packed lard, chilled
1¼ cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 500°F
  • Put the flour, homemade baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to blend thoroughly. Add the lard, and, working quickly, coat it in flour and rub between your fingertips until approximately half the lard is finely blended and the other half remains in large pieces, about 1/2 inch in size. Pour in the buttermilk, and stir quickly just until the dough is blended and begins to mass.
  • Turn the dough immediately out onto a floured surface, and with floured hands knead briskly eight to ten times, until it becomes cohesive.
  • Gently flatten the dough with your hands into a disk of even thinness; then, using a floured rolling-pin, roll it out to a uniform thickness of 1/2 inch. With a dinner fork dipped in flour, pierce the dough completely through at 1/2-inch intervals. Lightly flour a 2½ or 3-inch biscuit cutter and stamp out rounds, without twisting the cutter in the dough. Cut the biscuits from the dough as close together as you can, for maximum yield. Transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing them so that they just barely kiss. Don’t re-roll the scraps. Just arrange them around the edge of the sheet, and bake them – cook’s treat.
  • Put the baking sheet immediately on the center rack of the preheated oven.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes, checking after 6 minutes or so, and turning the pan if needed for even baking. When the biscuits are golden brown, remove from the oven and brush the tops with the melted butter.

Homemade Baking Powder: purchased baking powder has chemical additives and will sometimes leave an aftertaste. Make your own: mix 1/4 cup cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons baking soda. No more aftertaste.

Recipe provided by The Gift of Southern Cooking


 

Buttermilk (or Yogurt) Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour, more if needed*
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 oz./(1 stick) butter, solid cold
7/8 cup of thick/plain/unsweetened Greek yogurt or buttermilk**

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Lightly process until incorporated.
  • Cut the butter in smaller, half-inch pieces. Add them to the food processor and pulse about 10 times, or until are quarter-inch size chunks of butter in the flour.
  • Add the yogurt or buttermilk. Pulse about a few more times until the dough just starts to come together — is a very rough shaggy/loose ball.
  • Place dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead about 10 times, or stop as soon as the dough starts to come together. Don’t over knead, and it’s okay to still see chunks of butter in the dough.
  • Using a rolling-pin, spread dough until it’s 3/4″ thick. Using a round (or use a heart shape for Valentine’s Day) cookie cutter or a glass, cut rounds out of the dough. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Reshape the leftover dough into a ball and repeat until the dough is gone (hint: the last piece of the dough doesn’t need to be shaped).
  • Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 7 to 9 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.
  • Serve warm with jam and enjoy.

*Alternatively, use 1-3/4 cup white flour + 1/4 cup wheat flour.

Recipe provided by http.//www.blog.sanuraweathers.com


 

Grandma’s Homemade Biscuits Recipe

2 cups pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • In a small mixing bowl, mix together pastry flour, baking powder, and salt. Next pour in some milk and vegetable oil and stir until dough forms.
  • Roll the dough out on a cutting board to about 3/4 inches thick.
  • Cut dough into biscuits using a cookie cutter.
  • Light grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray then place your biscuits on the cookie sheet. Spread the biscuits out on the sheet so that they do not touch.
  • Bake biscuits on the center oven rack at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Recipe provided by http://www.soulfoodandsoutherncooking.com/


 

Homestyle Biscuits (easy, low-fat recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2⁄3 cup low-fat (1%) buttermilk
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • Preheat oven to 450
  • In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  • In small bowl, stir together buttermilk and oil.
  • Pour over flour mixture and stir until well mixed.
  • On lightly floured surface, knead dough gently for 10–12 strokes.
  • Roll or pat dough to 3⁄4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, dipping cookie cutter in flour between cuts. Transfer biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
For additional readings, check out Ashbourne’s other patented inventions enhancing the use of coconut oil for domestic use.
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