Monday, December 31, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits

The bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit was the favorite breakfast sandwich of McDonald's employees back in my day.  Yes friends, when I was young, I used to walk through blizzards in bare feet to work the 5AM to 1PM open shift at my local Mickey D's.  And though there are few things that I miss about it, I do have fond memories of sliding a tray of frozen biscuits into the oven.  When they came out of the oven, the three opening employees would brush the tops with butter, and then take a quick break to eat a biscuit before sliding them into the warming oven.

Anyway, in spite of or maybe because of my experiences as a fast food employee, I hardly ever eat fast food.  But every once in a while, I do take a few minutes to recreate the experience at home.

Yield: 4 - 5 biscuits
(Recipe from Fast Food Fix)

  • 1 cup & 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or 2 tablespoons powdered buttermilk plus ½ cup water)

Brew a strong cup of coffee and combine the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into small pieces and drop into the flour mixture.  Use a pastry blender or two folks to mash the butter into the flour.

Add the buttermilk and lightly stir to combine.  And oh happy day when I learned that powdered buttermilk is just as good as real buttermilk for baking [insert powdered milk biscuits joke from Prairie Home Companion here].

The finished product will look like this and is very sticky to the touch.

Flour up a cutting board and place the dough on top.

Flour up your hands and give it a few kneads.

Shape it into a 6" x 6" square.  Get a 3" biscuit cutter (otherwise known in my house as a drinking glass).

Cut out two biscuits.

Reshape the dough into a 3" x 6" square and cut out again.  Reshape the scraps into the final biscuit.  You'll get 4-5 biscuits out of the batch.

Now let's think this through for a minute.  Biscuits are only good when they're freshly baked.  I work out a lot, but not enough to burn through a batch of 4 biscuits in one sitting.  So how does this all work?  Well, once again, the freezer comes to the rescue!  Wrap any unbaked biscuits that you don't want to eat right now in plastic wrap and freeze them.

Bake the remaining biscuit at 425° for about 8 minutes until golden brown on top (the official baking time for the full batch is 15 minutes.)

Now I'm sure that I signed a confidentiality agreement with McDonald's at some point, and I wouldn't want to violate their trust by revealing the ingredients used in bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits.  (Real McDonald's employees will notice that the quantities have been altered to suit personal taste).  And if McDonald's was doing the cooking, they would cook the eggs in a special mold to get the square shape.  I just act like I'm making an omelet and fold the sides in to get a square.

When you're ready to bake up the frozen biscuits, just place them right on a baking sheet and bake as though the dough was fresh.  It only takes an extra minute or so to bake from frozen dough.  From personal experience, I can tell you that they will last a month in the freezer just fine, but one year is too long.

Where the cutoff between those two points is, no one knows for sure.