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Recipe: Biscuit Dough

Excerpted from our Making Dough Cookbook by Russell van Kraayenburg.

YIELD: 1 pound  |  PREP TIME: 20 minutes  |  BAKE TIME: 12 minutes


6 ounces cake flour

2 ounces bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk


Mixing the Dough

There are two ways to mix biscuit dough: by hand or using a food processor.

By-Hand Method

1. Mix flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.

2. Chop butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Add to flour mixture.

3. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, pinch or cut butter into flour, breaking it into pieces about the size of coarse cornmeal. If using your hands, work quickly to prevent butter from melting.

4. Add milk and stir 10 to 20 times with a wooden spoon, until dough just begins to come together.

5. Place dough on a very lightly floured surface. Knead 4 to 5 times, until it just holds its shape. Take care not to knead the dough too much or add.


Food Processor Method

1. Pulse flours, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor to combine.

2. Chop butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Add to flour mixture. Pulse for 1 to 2 seconds 8 to 12 times, until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

3. Add milk and pulse 2 to 4 times, until dough begins to come together. It will form a few large chunks and many small ones.

4. Transfer dough chunks to a very lightly floured surface and push together. Knead 3 to 5 times, until dough just holds its shape. Take care not to knead the dough too much or add too much flour, which can make the biscuits tough.


Why Cake Flour?

The American South enjoys a growing season that is relatively long and free of harshly cold weather, so less hardy varieties of wheat can be grown there. The resulting flour has a lower protein content, which is responsible for the cakey biscuits associated with that region. The similarly low protein content in cake flour will consistently produce these classic soft biscuits.


How to Handle Leftover Dough

When using a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out round biscuits, you’ll inevitably have leftover dough. Instead of kneading the leftover pieces together before rerolling the dough, stack them in layers and then roll the stack. Every time you knead or roll dough, it will become tougher. Stacking it helps delay the toughening.



Bake immediately, or store in an airtight container. Refrigerator: 2 days. Freezer: 1 month.


Qualities of Good Biscuit Dough

THE DOUGH: Biscuit dough should be dry but easy to manipulate. You should also see small dots of butter throughout the dough.

THE PASTRY: Once baked, biscuits should be tender. The outside crust should be firm and crumble easily, and the crumb inside should be soft.


Adding Mix-Ins

Throwing in some mix-ins—such as herbs or spices, lemon zest, a small pile of cheese, or a big pile of bacon—is a snap. Biscuit dough can handle it! So long as your add-ins are dry, they won’t affect the dough ratio.


Making Classic Butter Biscuits

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 425°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll prepared dough with a rolling pin until ¾ inch thick. Cut out 2½-inch disks with a cookie or biscuit cutter, or simply pull off small handfuls of dough for a more rustic look. Stack pieces of leftover dough, roll dough again, and cut out more disks. Repeat until all the dough is used. Place biscuits on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet spaced at least 1 inch apart. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for 12 minutes, until tops are just golden. Let biscuits cool on the pan

for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm.




Posted by Russell van Kraayenburg

Recipe: Duck Fat Biscuits with Tarragon Gravy

Excerpted from our Making Dough cookbook by Russell van Kraayenburg.

YIELD: 6 biscuits  |  PREP TIME: 30 minutes  |  BAKE TIME: 12 minutes


1 pound Biscuit Dough, prepared as at left

3 ounces cold, chopped duck fat

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

½  small white onion, sliced

1 ounce all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, diced

2 teaspoons chives, thinly sliced



1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare biscuits as described, but replace butter with duck fat. Bake as instructed.

2. While biscuits bake, make the gravy: melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes, until translucent. Reduce heat to low and add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes so that the flour flavor cooks out.

3. Pour in milk while stirring. Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a boil. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, tarragon, and chives.

4. Serve biscuits with warm gravy.



Bacon Fat Biscuits

Using a different fat can dramatically affect the flavor of a biscuit. See for yourself: Substitute bacon fat for the duck fat and omit the chives and tarragon. This variation makes a more traditional biscuits and gravy dish.

Posted by Russell van Kraayenburg

Banned Books Week: Twisting Recipes Into Banned Book Baked Goods

I’m fairly certain, in a completely un-scientific way, that if you asked anyone worth asking what the two best things are in the world (bar oxygen and anything that merits an NC-17) they would agree: books and food. As made obvious by the mere existence of banned book week, one way books have been made increasingly compelling over the years is (ironically) when groups of moral decide to ban them.

So now here’s another to make those banned books even better: pair them with cupcakes, or a tart! Following is a carefully curated list of some truly delicious baked goods with literary aspirations.

The Fahrenheit 451: Red Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes (The Domestic Rebel): Maybe not quite hot enough to burn books, but certainly spicier than the typical frosted dessert.

The Great Gatsby: Pink Champagne Cupcakes (Cupcakes by Tattooed MarthaSabayon by A Food Centric Life): Because if Gatsby and Daisy didn’t teach us about the perils of overindulgence, they certainly showed how fun it can be while it lasts. Plus, you know, champagne is delicious. To get the most out of the flavors, I swapped out the champagne frosting included in the cupcake recipe for a champagne sabayon as a slightly less pink topper.

The Huckleberry Fiin: Huckleberry Cupcakes (Martha Stewart): Huckleberries are a surprisingly underutilized fruit, but with a book like this classic there really isn’t a choice.

The Things Fall Apart: Coffee Cake Crumble Muffins (Table for Two): Fall apart. Crumble. It’s a dreadful pun, sorry. I embellished on these a bit by topping them with a simple fruit sauce (recipe below), using fruits native to Nigeria. The tang also balances out the sweetness of the crumble.

Posted by Maia Brown-Jackson

Quirk Perks: Get POPS! for Only $3.99 This Month!

POPS! by Krystina Castella


Posted by Eric Smith

Recipe: Orange Creamsicle Pies

Excerpted from our Making Dough cookbook by Russell van Kraayenburg.

YIELD: 4 (6-inch) mini pies  |  PREP TIME: 3 hours  |  BAKE TIME: None


1½  pounds Orange Cookie Crumb Crust, mixed as on page 66, baked in 4 (6-inch) pie dishes, and completely cooled

2 cups orange peels (from about

6 oranges)

1½ quarts whole milk

1 vanilla bean

3 ounces (¾ cup) cornstarch

12 ounces granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 quart Vanilla Whipped Cream, cold (page 69)



1. Place orange peels in a medium pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately remove from heat, and drain and discard water. Repeat 3 more times to remove the bitterness from the peels, and then pat peels dry with a paper towel.

2. Place peels and milk in a medium pot. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds out of the pod with the tip of a paring knife. Add seeds and pod to milk. Heat milk over medium heat until it reaches the scalding point (180°F on a clipped-on thermometer); it will begin to steam and appear slightly foamy. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 1 hour.

3. Remove peels and vanilla bean pod. Heat milk over medium heat until it returns to the scalding point. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch, sugar, salt, eggs, and orange zest in a large bowl. Once milk is scalded, temper the egg mixture: slowly pour a third of the milk into egg mixture, stirring constantly. Pour tempered egg mixture back into pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until boiling and thick. Cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Let cool completely.

4. Fill pie crusts with orange cream. Top with dollops of whipped cream or pipe whipped cream over the tops, and serve.



For a distinctive look, pipe a different pattern on each pie (as in the photo). Fit four pastry bags with four different large piping tips. Fill bags with whipped cream and twist shut. Grasp the twisted portion between the thumb and pointer finger of your dominant hand, and use your other hand to hold and guide the tip. Place the tip about 1 inch from the top of the pie, perpendicular to the pie. Squeeze quickly with your dominant hand, holding the tip in place with your other hand, to create a little ball of frosting. Stop squeezing and quickly lift the tip. Repeat until pie is covered.


Vanilla Whipped Cream

Whip 2 cups very cold heavy cream with an electric mixer on high speed until it forms soft peaks. Reduce speed to medium-high and slowly add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar. Increase speed to high and whip to stiff peaks. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and whip for another few seconds to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yield: 1 quart.



Banana Brûlée Pie 

Omit whipped cream. Top pies with sliced bananas, cut on the bias. Sprinkle 1 ounce granulated sugar over each pie. Heat sugar with the flame of a propane kitchen torch until it caramelizes.

Milk Chocolate Mousse Pie 

Replace crust with a Chocolate Cookie Crumbles Crust (page 66). Replace orange cream with Milk Chocolate Mousse (below).

Milk Chocolate Mousse

Whip 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Refrigerate. Heat 11/2 ounces honey just to the boiling point (212°F). Meanwhile, whip 2 egg yolks until they are thick and form ribbons. Whisk warm honey into egg yolks. Continue whipping until mixture has cooled and is thick. Melt 6 ounces dark chocolate in a bowl over a large pot of simmering water. Whisk chocolate into egg mixture and whip until blended. Fold in whipped cream. Yield: About 1 quart.





Posted by Russell van Kraayenburg

How-to Tuesday: Literary Monkey Bread Variations

Photo via Gimme Some Oven
Monkey bread! You’d be bananas not to love it—oh yes, I went there. 
If you have opposable thumbs, you can make monkey bread. So why not make an extra-special batch (or three) and dedicate it to your favorite literary primate?
All you need are the basic 4 ingredients (biscuit dough, butter, sugar, and plastic bags), plus a couple add-ins to make your Bookish Monkey Bread.

Posted by Suzanne Wallace