We’re obsessed with making biscuits and/or scones and after my sister P pointed to the Cook’s Illustrated method of making biscuits, we had to try them.
If you haven’t used this method, I highly recommend that you try it too. You won’t be disappointed.
For the ultimate flaky biscuits, we grate the butter so that it’s evenly distributed in the flour mixture, which is key for flakiness. Freezing the butter prior to grating ensures that it stays in individual pieces throughout the mixing and shaping process. Using a higher-protein all-purpose flour (such as King Arthur) provides the right amount of structure for flakiness (rather than fluffiness, which you’d get with a lower-protein flour) without toughness, while buttermilk gives the biscuits tang and sugar lends complexity. To produce the maximum number of layers, we roll out and fold the dough like a letter five times. Cutting the biscuits into squares is easy and avoids any wasted scraps (or tough rerolls). And finally, we learned that letting the dough rest for 30 minutes and trimming away the edges ensures that the biscuits rise up tall and true in the oven.
Cook’s Illustrated, Ultimate Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, September 2015
Trim 1/4 inch of dough from each side of the square and discard the trimmings
Cook’s Illustrated Ultimate Buttermilk Biscuits video, 2:03
What a cool video on the Cook’s Illustrated site! I understand why they say to trim the edges of the dough after it’s refrigerated (see around 2:03 on the video). But why do they say to discard the trimmings?
We felt sure that those trimmings could be baked and be served as cook’s treats. Even if they wouldn’t “rise up tall and true” as the trimmed versions….
As children of people who grew up in the depression, not to mention being avid about throwing away as little as possible, we just couldn’t get that they would say to throw away the scraps.
In fact, I hate that they are condoning that kind of waste. Sure, if we all had pigs to feed, we could throw the scraps into the pigs’ trough and know they weren’t being wasted. But as it is now, with most people not having livestock to feed, they should really be suggesting what to do with the scraps. Couldn’t they be used as dumplings? Or for plum duff??
So, when T made biscuits, he simply pushed the trimmings together to make a little rosette.
It was delicious. Easily as delicious as the rest of the biscuits.