Flaky Buttery Biscuits, Starring the Best Butters!

Hello Bakers,

In the past few weeks, I have gotten several requests for a good biscuit recipe.
This led me to think that maybe biscuits would be a great blog post.
The following biscuit recipe is a particular favorite.
It is quick and easy, uses milk not buttermilk and uses only baking powder -
making it very accessible to the baker who wants to get some hot and delicious
biscuits on the table - without having to think about ingredients.

Most of us have milk and baking powder in our kitchens and if you are reading this
blog - you most likely have unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur) in your cupboard as well.
This recipe uses butter - pure unsalted delicious butter.

This is one of those recipes where the butter flavor is the star.
Often I am asked by students "when do you use a premium butter and when is a regular unsalted
butter OK to use in your baking?"
When butter is the predominant flavor - spend up and get the good stuff.
Recipes like biscuits, pie crust. croissants, puff pastry, quick puff pastry and butter cookies (like shortbread) are all better with made with premium butter - after you have mastered the technique of that particular recipe.
Use a supermarket butter when the recipe has lots of sugar, chocolate and other flavors - cakes,
muffins and brownies are good examples of where I would use Trader Joe's unsalted butter.

In these biscuits, I used unsalted  Plugra which is a delicious European Style butter.
Another one of my favorite brands of butter is Challenge Butter.
Challenge Butter is local to California and never uses milk from cows that have been treated with rbST.
Kerrygold is another delicious choice but needs to be cubed and frozen first. Kerrygold cows are grass fed which is why their butter softens up so quickly.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and add it to your repertoire - it will surely make your loved ones smile
to see hot biscuits on the table for dinner.
BTW - they are also great with sausage gravy. Yum!
P.S. You can easy cut the recipe in half - that's why I wrote it in grams. :)
Happy Baking!

Flaky Buttery Biscuits
     Oven 400 conventional or 375 convection
      Pan Prep:
Line a sheet tray with parchment paper
Makes 18 2” biscuits

450g unbeached all purpose flour
8g salt
22g granulated sugar
18g baking powder
180g unsalted butter – cubed and keep cold
270g (ml) milk  Sift all the dry ingredients together.

1.       Cut in the butter – the mixture should look like corn flakes.  A plastic bowl scraper works great for this.

2.       Add the milk.
3.       Combine working the flour into the liquid, push the liquid into the flour with the bowl scraper,
against the side of the bowl. This is how you build layers.

The mixture will begin to come together and there should be no floury residue on the bottom of the bowl.

4.       Transfer the dough to a work surface andf fold a few times until it comes together – do not overwork.
5.       Roll out the dough to 1/2-5/8” thickness. Cut with a floured cutter and place the biscuits on the lined sheet pan.

6.       Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up the fat.
7.       Brush the tops with a little milk – this keeps the crust soft.
8.       Bake at 400 until the tops are light brown – start checking in 12-14 minutes.
9.       They should be golden brown and delicious. Make sure to pick one up carefully – make sure they feel light.
Leftover biscuits can be frozen for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature for several hours and then refresh in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes before serving.

Beauty and the Baguette: Baking with a Fifty Year Old Starter

Hi Everyone,

Recently, one of my students, Tyler gave me some fifty year old sourdough starter. 
Yes, fifty years old and rocking strong.  We had about 12 ounces and we promptly named him "50 cent" after the rapper.
Tyler had been working at Chef Phillip Lee's restaurant "Scratch" on La Cienaga in Los Angeles. "50 cent" had been brought to the kitchen by one of the sous-chefs, Ryan.
50 cent had been in Ryan's family for fifty years. He looked and smelled great. He is the George Clooney of starters.

 When he arrived 50 cent was more bubbly and strong then my beloved starter, Sofia. Great care had been taken of him over the years. I was very impressed and delighted. A new family member - Sofia's long lost grandfather.

I began feeding him 50% filtered water and 50% Harvest King Bread flours I was instructed. At home, I use Gold Medal, Better for Bread to feed my starters and for my bread baking.
The other important thing I did was to bring a portion of 50 cent home - just in case something would happen to the refrigeration at work and I would lose him. 
I have some Sofia at home as well. I keep them both strong and healthy - it's important to always have a back up when you are working with sourdough at work.

Yesterday I made my first baguettes with 50 cent. They turned out great. The recipe is inspired by the River Cottage Bread Book.
The dough is very sticky but it needs to be for a good open crumb.
It can also be overnight fermented in the refrigerator to develop more flavor.

yield: 2 baguettes
330 grams water
3-5g instant yeast (use less if the starter is very active) (optional if your starter is very strong)
4 ounces starter 
500g bread flour
10g salt
1. Combine water, yeast and starter in the mixer bowl.
2. Add flour and salt.
3. With the dough hook on speed 2 mix the dough for 4 minutes until it clears the side of the bowl.
It may stick to the sides and the bottom of the bowl - resist the urge to add extra flour.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and stretch and fold a few times to smooth the dough.

5. Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let rest for 45 minutes.
6. After 45 minutes, stretch and fold again. Repeat this process 3 more times.
7. Let the dough rest 10 minutes after the final fold and divide in half.
8. Shape into logs and let rest for 10 minutes, covered. **They were covered right after I took the photo.

9. Shape into baguettes, place on a parchment lined floured sheetpan or in an oiled baguette tray.
10. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
11. Place the baguettes in the proofing bag with a mug of steaming water.

12. Let proof until the baguettes have risen about 1/3 and have a marshmallow texture. The baguettes are proofed when you gently squeeze the sides of the baguette and you finger indentation does not spring back.
13. Dust the baguettes with flour, slash the baguettes (5 slashes are typical) and lightly spray the surface with water.
14. Place the baguettes in the hot oven and spray the oven door with a light mist of water.
15. Check at 25 minutes. The baguettes should be golden brown and feel light when you pick them up.
Use a towel or a oven mitt as they are hot. They will probably need a 5-7 minutes more baking time.
If the baguettes are getting too dark, turn the oven temperature down 25 degrees.
Let them cool and enjoy.
Happy Baking!