what is up with my sourdough starters???
modified this recipe slightly
makes around 10 biscuits
2-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup lard, (yes, lard, the “most elegant fat you’ll ever meet”) cold and cut into chunks, or a mix of half lard and half cold/frozen butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
(ed: half a teaspoon of packaged yeast, since my starter is still weak)
1 cup sourdough starter, freshly fed a few hours earlier
up to 1 cup of milk
In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients except the baking soda. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter (I use my fingers) cut in the lard (yes, lard. Don’t even try substituting shortening. Lard is where it’s at for flaky biscuits, pie crusts and tortillas. ) or lard and butter into the dry ingredients until it is mealy and the fat is in roughly pea-size pieces, evenly distributed throughout the flour. Add the starter and stir well.
Now, mix the baking soda with just a teaspoon or so of warm water. Add to the dough and stir well.
Then, add in just enough milk to make a biscuit dough. Biscuit dough should be quite sticky and just stick together. It should never be dry.
Dump biscuit dough onto a lightly floured surface, turning to lightly cover with flour and just barely, with your hands, push the dough together to form a rough rectangle. Gently press down until it is about an inch and a half depth.
I have made dozens and dozens of biscuits and have tried all kinds of techniques. I find that my biscuits are lighter and fluffier when I don’t overwork the dough, don’t flour too much and don’t use a rolling pin! The pressure from your hands is enough.
The dough should feel like a soft baby’s bottom.
Now, using a biscuit cutter, or even just a glass, dip the cutter into flour and then quickly cut the biscuits, making sure to have as little waste as possible between cuts. You can (and will be) reforming the dough to make more biscuits until the dough is used up, but the fluffiest, lightest, highest raising biscuits will be the ones that you cut from the first batch.
So try hard to get as many biscuits out of that first cutting as possible.
Why? Because biscuits are pastry and they become flaky through the interspersing of fat throughout the dough melting during baking and making layers. The more times you press the dough together, the more the fat pockets will disperse, the layers will flatten, and the biscuits will be denser. I’m sure someone, somewhere explained it more eloquently, but that is just how it works around here.
Place biscuits, touching, on a greased baking pan or 9″x13″ pan. Allow to rest and rise for about half to one hour.
Right before baking, baste the tops of the biscuits with melted butter (this was the secret at the Colonel’s, by the way) and bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30-35 minutes.
i will be the first to admit that i did not follow this by the letter. next time i will, because they definitely didn’t rise very much in the hour they hung out before being baked.
they are, of course, completely delicious and buttery even when dense and i’ll have no trouble eating all of them, especially when slathered in veggie gravy or leftover veggie stew.