Flying Flour, Splashing Spices, Roomful Aromas

Monday, April 15, 2013

Almost Momma's Biscuits

Nothing harks one back to childhood better than aromas from the kitchen.  Nothing is more fitting to revive this blog than homage to Mom.  For over forty years I have tried to recreate her biscuits.  Even side by side with her in her kitchen, no go.  She had a deft hand and measured nothing with anything other than finger tips and 'eyeing' it.  After a few months of marriage, I was home to visit.  As if that wasn't strange enough, I took notes while she made biscuits noting each hand movement and addition of ingredients.  It was all about the flour, the buttermilk, a hot buttered glass pan and her magic touch.  She convinced me mine didn't turn out because I hadn't used Martha White Flour.  Tried that, no go. There was still something.  What was it?  I got  her to do it all again, after all there were more people in the house.  None would go wasted, for sure.  And she said something.  It didn't stick then or even return in my replay over the years.  But the other night, during a deep sleep, a nudge, ever so slight.  I awoke with a hankering for Mom's Biscuits and went to the kitchen.  Mizzen place~ all on deck.

Pre heat oven 425 degrees F.  2 tablespoons butter in glass baking dish (9X9)
2 cups flour, all purpose          Blend first three ingredients in large bowl.
3 tsps  baking powder
1  tsp  salt
1/4 c   butter                            Cut in butter to size of peas
1 3/4  buttermilk                      Fold in gently only until all is moist. (was that part of the nudge?)

All in the bowl.  Butter cut in.  Add the buttermilk.  FOLD, not stir.  Oh yes, there is a difference.  Deft of hand I recalled.  Mom was deft of hand.  That has been my problem all the decades.  A yeast bread baker, I even taught her how to make yeast breads, my handling of the 'stirring' utensil was heavy.  Oh, how could it take  all these years to recall such a fine detail. All the breads I have made.

The butter milk pooled in a well of dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula, I scooped the flour from the side of the bowl and FOLDED it over into the pool.  I rotated the bowl and gently repeated.  Three times.  Then I ran the spatula under the center and folded, turn and repeat.  All was MOIST.  I reigned in the desire to do more.  Onto a floured board I plopped the dough.  Again, resisting the temptation to fold and knead even once, I floured hands and patted the dough easily to a 1/2 inch thickness.  I floured the cutter, placed each in the hot glass dish after a touch and flip in the hot butter.  The biscuits all in the pan, touching, I allowed them to sit for 5 minutes.  That is when Mom washed everything up.
Five minutes over, I slid my prize into the hot oven and set the timer for 19 minutes.  The timer buzzed, I checked, they had risen to the top edge of the pan but not quite separating at seams.  I shut the door and set the time for 5 more minutes.  Timer buzzed.  I pulled the glass pan out, enveloped by heat and luscious aroma.  I removed the biscuits to a rack atop a platter to prevent steam from softening the golden crust, my favorite part.

I chose a corner biscuit.  Did I say the golden crust was my favorite part?  The jewel opened to a fluff, steaming.  Give it a second, a burned tongue is useless.  Finally, a bite.  Part crust, part inner fluff and Mom must've been in the kitchen.  So close, so close I'll claim this batch as Almost Mom's.  My closest ever and it is all in the FOLD not stir, the hot glass pan and  a nudge ever so slight in the night.  Thanks, Momma~ nudge anytime.