Biscuits are a tasty choice on a winter day

They are easy to make, are a delicious substitute for bread and are perfect served with stews, soups

    If you’re in the mood for some homemade bread but don’t feel like devoting hours to the process, try making biscuits.
    These light, fluffy orbs can take the place of bread on the table.
    Warm from the oven, they’re delicious served with a pat of butter or a dollop of jam.
    But they’re versatile, too. You can make them plain or flavored with herbs and cheese and even berries.
    There are a few tips to creating tender biscuits:
    Use cold butter and cut it into small pieces before incorporating it into your dough. Some people use an egg slicer to cut the butter so they don’t warm it with their fingers. Better yet, freeze it, then grate the butter using the large holes of a box grater.
    Sift your dry ingredients together instead of simply mixing them. This will smooth any lumps and provide a more consistent bake.
    Some people also freeze their dry ingredients to keep the dough as cold as possible since cold dough makes a flaky biscuit.
    When mixing and stirring, use a light, gentle touch. Every time you touch, knead or fold the dough, you’re developing the gluten, and the more you develop the gluten, the tougher the biscuits will be.
    Handle the dough as little as possible. It’s good to see chunks of butter and sprinkles of flour in the dough.
    Most biscuits use baking powder as a leavener, and it needs to be fresh. Check your baking powder by mixing a small spoonful of baking powder with 1/4 cup hot water. The baking powder should bubble vigorously. If it doesn’t, it’s not fresh.
    If your recipe calls for using a  cutter to slice out rounds of dough, make sure it’s sharp. After all, sharp edges help create well-defined layers.
    In a pinch, a drinking glass with thin sides will work or you can use a knife or bench scraper to cut your biscuits into squares instead of circles.
    When cutting, press straight down instead of twisting the cutter. Dip the cutter in flour to keep the dough from sticking and transfer the circles of dough to a baking sheet without pressing on the sides.
    Place the biscuits about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet to help them rise taller.
    Following are biscuit recipes from epicurious.com.

 

epicurious.com

Blueberry-Ginger Slab Biscuits

2 tablespoons baking powder
2-1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal or 1-1/2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4-1/2 cups flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberry or blackberry jam
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger

    Whisk baking powder, salt, ground ginger, flour, 1/2 cup oats and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl to combine. Grate butter into dry ingredients using the large holes of a box grater, then lightly toss to coat. Add lemon zest and toss again. Freeze 10 minutes.
    Whisk egg, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla in a medium bowl to combine. Add all but one tablespoon egg mixture to flour mixture and mix with a fork just until combined. Set remaining egg mixture aside.
    Knead mixture in bowl with your hands until it roughly comes together. Then turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat together. Dusting with flour as needed, gently roll into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle.
    Stir jam and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Spread over half of dough, staying just shy of edges. Scatter berries and candied ginger over top. Fold side of dough without toppings up and over filling and gently press to seal. Using a bench scraper or a knife, cut dough into 12 portions. Arrange in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan that’s lightly coated with cooking spray. Brush dough with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining oats and sugar.
    Bake in a 425-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

 

Spinach and Cheese Slab Biscuits

4-1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal or 1-1/4 teaspoons Morton kosher salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter
8 ounces Gruyère, Comté, and/or aged white cheddar, coarsely grated
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream

    Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl to combine. Grate butter into dry ingredients on the large holes of a box grater, then lightly toss to coat. Freeze 10 minutes.
    Scatter about three-quarters of Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses over flour mixture, then add crushed red pepper flakes. Squeeze as much liquid out of spinach as possible, pull into shreds and strew over flour mixture.
    Whisk buttermilk and sour cream in a large measuring glass or small bowl. Pour into bowl with flour mixture and mix with a fork just until combined. Knead in bowl with your hands until a soft cohesive dough forms. Do not overmix.
    Scrape dough into a 13-by-9-inch pan that’s lightly coated with cooking spray and press into an even layer. Using a bench scraper or knife, score, cutting down almost to pan beneath, into 12 portions. Scatter reserved Gruyère and Parmesan over the top.
    Bake in a 425-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

 

Cheddar, Bacon and Fresh Chive Biscuits

6 thick-cut bacon slices
3-3/4 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus melted butter for brushing
2-1/2 packed cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
1-3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
Honey, optional

    Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.
    Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in processor. Blend five seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend about 30 seconds, until a coarse meal forms.
    Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives and chopped bacon, then toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly. Batter will feel sticky.
    Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing batter mounds about two inches apart.
    Bake in a 425-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes.
    Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.

 

Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits

2-1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal or 1-1/2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons sugar
2-1/2 cups flour, plus more for surface
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons melted butter
8 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise (not on a diagonal)
1-1/4 cups sour cream, plus more for serving
Flaky sea salt

    Whisk salt, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and 2-1/2 cups flour in a large bowl to combine. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Using your hands, work butter into dry ingredients until there are lots of flat pieces and pea-size bits. Add scallions and toss to evenly distribute.
    Create a well in the center of mixture and pour sour cream into the center. Using a fork and working in circles, mix until large shaggy clumps form. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice until it comes together. If there are any loose bits, add them to center of dough and knead once more to incorporate. Pat dough into an 8-by-4-inch rectangle about one inch thick.
    Working from a short side, fold dough in thirds as you would a letter. Pat dough into another 8-by-4-inch rectangle, then fold dough in thirds again. Pat dough back into an 8-by-4-inch rectangle and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into four squares for a total of eight biscuits.
    Transfer biscuits to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops gently with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with sour cream  or more butter.

 

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

2-3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, plus an optional extra 1/4 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted

    Combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Add buttermilk and cheese and stir with a fork until mixture forms a soft dough. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Combine butter and remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, if desired, then brush on biscuit tops. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.

 

Baked Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

1 medium baking potato, rinsed and dried
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup buttermilk

    Cook potato in a microwave, oven or  boiling water until almost fork-tender. Let cool completely. Using a paring knife, peel the potato, then shred with a box grater.
    In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. Add cold butter and cut in using two knives, a pastry blender, potato masher, or your hands, until the dough resembles coarse crumbs the size of peas. Fold in the cheese, chives and shredded potato.
    Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be sticky. Transfer to a well-floured work surface and knead a few times to smooth dough. Fold dough onto itself about four times, turning clockwise after each fold. Pat the dough with your hands until it’s about 3/4-inch thick.
    Use a two-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut into dough rounds. Place rounds so they’re just barely touching on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gather dough scraps and repeat patting and cutting until you have about 20 rounds.
    Brush biscuits with melted butter and bake in a 425-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool before serving.
    Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for as long as four days.

 

Cracked Black Pepper Pull-Apart Biscuits

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 pound butter, cut into pieces, softened
4 cups flour
2 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

    Combine flour, cake flour, baking powder, pepper, kosher salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add shortening and 1/2 pound softened butter. Using your hands or a fork, mix just until mixture is coarse and mealy. Stir in buttermilk just until a shaggy dough forms.
    Divide dough into 16 heaping 1/3-cup portions. Place seven around the perimeter and one in the center of each of two eight-inch greased round cake pans or all 16 in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
    Brush biscuits with remaining melted butter, sprinkle with sea salt and bake in a 425-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
    Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, then invert again. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rosa’s Biscuits

2-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup chilled buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°.
    Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Work butter into flour mixture with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with several pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
    Using a fork, gently mix in buttermilk, then gently knead just until dough comes together. Do not overmix.
    Pinch off pieces of dough and gently roll into one-inch balls. Place on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing two inches apart. If butter softens too much while you are working, chill dough 15 to 20 minutes to firm before baking.
    Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt. Serve warm.

 

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