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Basic Biscuits

by

Yield: Makes 18 to 24.

“These basic biscuits are one of our most often requested recipes. The biscuits aren’t difficult to make, but they do require careful handling and the use of cake flour is essential. To keep from rerolling and overworking the dough, I incorporate the scraps that are left between biscuits by sweeping them into the dough where I’m cutting the next biscuit.” Castine Inn, Castine, Maine

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cake flour (preferably Soft or Silk)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 7 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

Sift the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening, using a pastry cutter or working lightly with your fingers, until the mixture is crumbly. In a small bow, whisk 2 of the eggs with the buttermilk and water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture all at once. Working lightly with your fingers, use a fluffing motion to combine the ingredients until they are just moistened. Don’t overwork.
Turn out onto a floured surface and using the fingers of both hands spread (or rake) the dough gently to a 1-1/2-inch thickness. (When combining dry and wet ingredients, and when spreading the dough, remember that it’s the air in the dough that makes the biscuits light. Never knead, overwork, or compress the dough, as this removes the air.) Let the dough sit for a couple of minutes.
Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into water, then flour, and starting from the edge of the dough and working toward the center cut and shake out the biscuits, placing them in a baking pan. Beat together the remaining egg and the milk and brush lightly over the biscuit tops.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Updated Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
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