Author Topic: Biscuits and cornbread? really?  (Read 275 times)

PonoBill

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Biscuits and cornbread? really?
« on: January 14, 2022, 09:25:06 PM »
Yeah, I know. This probably isn't for everyone, but I posted this on Facebook and it started a major fazzazzah. so here you go. Warning! This will make you fat.

Ok. I need to post this because it's just so great. Sorry, this may fuck up your diet totally, but at least it's worth the calories. I'm a fairly serious cook. I occasionally have streaks where I work at it really hard, but mostly I just throw shit together, but I've been doing it so long that most times it works. This is taken from two posts on my blog. I warn you if you try this your life will change. You might be a little fatter. Of you might just have to exercise a little harder to stay where you are. You've been warned:

I never order biscuits at breakfast when I’m eating at a restaurant. That’s because I don’t live in the South and I don’t like eating hockey pucks. I don’t buy scones at coffee shops–same basic reason. Those dense wedges with no inherent flavor need a lot of other stuff in them to be even slightly edible. But I can cook a batch of staggeringly good biscuits or scones in 15 minutes and 14 minutes of that is waiting for them to be done baking. It literally takes a minute to make either, and I don’t use a mix.

My recipe is White Lilly self-rising flour and heavy cream. That’s it. Done. White Lilly is common in the south, every grocery store has it, and it’s dirt cheap, the same price as all-purpose flour. Here’s the only difference–White Lilly is made with soft wheat. Most flour in the Northern USA is made with hard wheat. Hard wheat has more protein and better gluten, so it makes better bread. If you want the yeast to do its best work, you want hard wheat flour.

Soft wheat has lower protein and less gluten. It makes lousy bread and great biscuits. All-purpose flour is a mix of soft and hard flour, which means it makes mediocre bread and horrid biscuits or scones. Bread flour or strong flour makes great bread and biscuits that will still exist when cockroaches rule the planet.
You can buy pastry flour in northern grocery stores and it almost works. Biscuits won’t come out as hard, tough little clinkers, but they won’t inspire poems. They won’t be White Lilly biscuits. You can buy White Lilly online from Amazon or Walmart for roughly ten times the price in a neighborhood market anywhere in the south. And it’s worth it. You can get non-self rising and add your own baking powder if you think you won’t make biscuits often and the baking powder would lose potency, but I just get the self-rising.

So you get the right flour and then do all the standard stuff, cutting in butter to make well-greased little nodules and then adding buttermilk until you have a workable dough. They’ll be great. Or you can skip all that and just make your dough with heavy cream, work it gently into a ball, pat it flat to a disk about an inch thick, and cut it into wedges or round biscuits with a sharp biscuit cutter to optimize the rise (important!!). Bake at 425 until they’re golden brown and eat them while they’re hot.

You can thank me later.

Oh, if you want scones, add a little sugar and an egg. Toss in whatever else you like in a scone. I have gradually switched to plain scones with some ginger/orange/lemon marmalade that I made.

Then there's cornbread. On a whim, I bought a cast iron oyster pan from Sur La Table. Well, actually from Amazon. I like barbequed oysters a LOT.

The heavy buggah arrived the day after I made a too-large pot of salmon and clam whatcha got chowder, effectively cleaning out all the slowly composting leftovers in the refrigerator (too late for a lot of stuff, but just in time otherwise). The unlikely combination of the carcass of a hefty whole Alaskan sockeye salmon for the stock and meat (I cooked the filets for a dinner with Gregg Leion and his much more charming wife a few nights before), a container of frozen chopped clams, pureed parsnips, pan-roasted corn off the cob, some yellowed broccoli, some wrinkly russet potatoes, and heavy cream that was turning to creme-not-so-Fraiche turned out to be amazing but needed a hearty companion. The biscuits I made the first night weren’t quite up to the match. So I made cornbread in my new Oyster pan. Awesome. So awesome that it’s been my lunch and sometimes dinner for the four days Diane has been gone on a ladies’ golf trip. Yes, I revert to a grubby bachelor as soon as her car leaves the garage.

The cornbread I made was just a basic guess that White Lilly flour might make great cornbread for the same reason it makes great baking powder biscuits–it’s the right kind of flour for this application. Since I’ve never seen a recipe for cornbread with White Lilly self-rising flour I just made it up on the fly. Absolutely amazing, on the first try.

1 cup White Lilly self-rising four
a little extra baking powder–probably 1/2 tsp.
1 cup Polenta, aka grits. I like the Red Mill stuff but any coarse cornmeal will work
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs oil (I used EVOO)
hefty pinch of salt
1 egg
heavy cream to make a pourable batter

Stupidly simple–mix everything together, add enough heavy cream to make a batter you can pour into whatever pan you choose to use. I lubed the oyster pan lightly with olive oil and poured in the batter to within 1/2″ of the top. Put it in an unheated oven set to 400 and fired it up. I think the slower heat cycle of an unheated oven lets the baking powder do its thing a bit longer. I have no idea how long it took, I just checked every few minutes until I saw the golden brown color I wanted. It’s easier to extract the sticks from the pan if you let it cool a bit after pulling the pan from the oven. The pan will be hot as blazes and will stay that way for a long time, so a trivet or just set it on the stove is necessary. No, I didn’t wait for it to cool to eat the first six–I don’t have that kind of discipline. I rarely let steak rest as long as I know I should either.

The cornbread is light, with a great texture. Rises to fill the pan with a nice smooth dome. Crisp on the edges, delicious with a dab of butter. I ate half the sticks with a bowl of chowder, and half of them later for dessert with some local honey drizzled on them. Yes, I ate 12 huge cornbread sticks.

By myself.

Like an animal.

This is, by a long, long margin, the best cornbread I’ve ever had.
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

Esteban

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Re: Biscuits and cornbread? really?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2022, 07:00:37 AM »
Standupcookingzone?

 


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