A Wise Word:

Witchcraft is all about living to the heights and depths of life as a way of worship. --LY DE ANGELES

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Southern Style Biscuits: A Bit of Kitchen Witchery

Although I do not consider myself a Kitchen Witch, I do practice a bit of Kitchen Witchery from time to time.  To tell the truth, I believe that any one who has ever whipped up special comfort food for a loved one has knowingly or unknowingly practiced this form of the craft.  Yesterday morning, getting ready for work, Superman was dragging his feet like a school boy with a history test he hadn't studied for.  The previous day had been particularly stressful and he was dreading a repeat.  There wasn't much I could do to ease his frustration, so I did what I could. I gave him something to look forward to-the promise of a batch of fresh, homemade biscuits when he came home for lunch.  Now Superman is all Southern and nothing says love to a Southern man like biscuits and sweet tea.  Since we are never without sweet tea, I was already halfway there. 
About an hour before he was due to arrive home, I smudged the house and started mixing up his favorite biscuits.  I started my milk to clabbering and mixed all my dry ingredients.  This is where the magic comes in.  Then instead of cutting the butter in, I used my clean hands to sift and squeeze, incorporating the two together.  While I mixed those ingredients, I silently focused my energy and love through my hands while envisioning a comfortable, content husband.   I saw him sitting at the counter, happily eating his buttered biscuits while all the stress of his morning flowed away.  After adding the clabbered milk my go-to substitution of buttermilk I lightly kneaded the dough, once again focusing on my husband and the relaxed state I wanted to evoke.  Finally, I shaped the biscuits and put them in the fridge to wait and be slid into the hot oven as my Superman walked through the door.   
The magic was a complete success.  Not only did my husband feel loved and happy eating his biscuits, that feeling of relaxation carried him into the afternoon.  He didn't have a wonderful day at work, but he managed to get through it with minimal frustration.  He was even able to shake off an incident that would usually have caused a confrontation. 
Even though I do say so myself, I have never found a biscuit recipe better than mine.  It is many batches worth of experimentation using various recipes as sources until I found just the right combination and technique.  The ingredients are pretty basic, but there are a few guidelines that come with this recipe. 
For the absolute best biscuits, use real butter and use it cold.  Also, make sure the shaped biscuits are cold when you put them in the oven.  I like to pan my biscuits ahead of time and put the pan into the fridge.  Then, just before we are ready to eat, I put my cold biscuits into a hot oven.  This technique is the big secret to tender, fluffy biscuits. 
Southern Style Biscuits
3/4 cup milk
1 TBL lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
Combine milk and lemon juice/vinegar in a cup or bowl and set aside to clabber.  If you've never done this, don't be surprised at the outcome.  The milk will sour and curd up.  That is exactly the result we are looking for. 
Mix dry ingredients and cut in cold butter cubes.  Stir in clabbered milk and knead lightly.  At this point, I sometimes add yummy extras to create fancy "steak house biscuits."  Fresh rosemary and parmesan or fresh cracked pepper and cheddar are two of my favorites.  Shape biscuits either in the traditional way by rolling and cutting or by hand like I do.  By hand keeps the working of the dough to a minimum and results in more tender biscuits.  In my home, biscuits are big and always eaten fresh from the oven: this recipe creates six, but doubles or even triples easily. 
Pan biscuits and allow to chill while oven heats to 475.  Bake for 12 minutes and serve hot with butter gravy, jelly, honey, plain, how ever you want.