Monday, February 1, 2010

rescuing biscuits

"Even in failure there is success" or words to that effect.

I recently tried to create a biscuit recipe using 100% whole grain flour. To get to the rescuing part skip to the end; to learn how I got there, read on.

I'll start with a confession and tell you that I while I consider myself to be a fairly good baker and certainly do well with most baked goods there are two things that I'm still working hard at improving. One is pie crusts and the other is biscuits. They usually taste good and are certainly edible but don't always come out the way I envision them.

We recently had a curried sweet potato zucchini soup for dinner and I wanted to serve biscuits with it. Being the whole grain advocate that I am I, of course, wanted them to be 100% whole grain biscuits. One of the challenges of baking with whole grain flour is the way it changes the moisture content and also the loft, or rise, of whatever you are making. This can even be true in recipes where you make a simple switch from all-purpose to whole wheat flour. The additional fiber affects the dough.

As you can see from the picture, the biscuits did rise. But they didn't rise as much as I had imagined they would. Because of the amount of baking powder and baking soda I wasn't sure how much salt to use. They wound up not having enough so they were a bit bland. Although they were tasty enough with the soup, which was very flavorful and satisfying, they were not going to be tasty enough for jam biscuits to go with breakfast the next morning. As a matter of fact they hardened up just enough that I didn't think anyone would want to eat them.

This is where my curious nature sometimes comes into play. Faced with a half a batch of leftover biscuits (the recipe made a dozen) I wondered what you could do with leftover biscuits. My initial thought was to split them, lay them on the bottom of a casserole dish and then pour some sort of a hot fruit compote over them and see if that would work as a bottom crust. When I thought about it further I decided that might not be the best option because it would then probably result in a mushy mess at the bottom of the compote; I couldn't be sure that the biscuits would hold together enough.

Then inspiration struck (here's the rescuing part) since they weren't too salty I wondered if they could be turned into something sweet? I ground them up in my cuisinart. It turns out that 6 biscuits makes approximately 1 1/2 C. of biscuit crumbs. Combined with 6 T. of butter, 2 T. of sugar and a dash of cinnamon they create a nice graham cracker-type crust at the bottom of a pie dish. Topped with a sweet cheese filling (I used quark) and some sour cherries it made a tasty dessert.

While I certainly do not plan on making biscuits for the purpose of their crumbs I now know that at least they can be used to make a decent crust if needed.


Marci said...

You are singing my song... biscuits and pie crusts. Have you tried adding in soft wheat at all? I hope you come up with some winners and share them, because I am after the same results. :)

Doris said...

Where did you find Quark Mira? We love it, and it reminds me of our visits with Kat and family in Germany.

Mira Dessy said...

Doris, they have Quark at HEB in the specialty cheese section. They also carry Mascarpone, an Italian cheese that is similar to Quark but sweeter.

Anonymous said...

Here is a video that you might find helpful for making pie crust. It's a little lengthy but she gives you tips and tells you why you should do it this particular way.

Video - Pie crust demonstration

I have watched another video by a King Arthur Flour baker, they used the palm of their hand to smear the pie crust bit by bit away from them. The lady said that this makes the crust flaky.

Jen S.

Mira Dessy said...

Jen, thanks for the link....looks very interesting, I'll have to try it the next time I need to make a pie crust.

Anonymous said...
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Mira Dessy said...

My Aunt shared her experience in an email...I'm passing it along:

"Learning to make a good pie crust was my self set cooking challenge the first year of my marriage to Yosef, way back in 1956. My efforts were not made any easier by the fact that we did not invest in a rolling pin for quite some time, since we were setting up an entire household using part of our wedding gifts and living on only 2 graduate assitants' salaiy stipends. We purchased as many kitchen utensils as possible in a second hand store, and when we'd finished maknig our selections, the owner said "and surely you'll be wanting a Mouli" Never shy about learning I inquired "What's a Mouli" and thus became acquainted with the rotary French tin grater with a variety of drums--current models have many plastic parts. Anyway, back to the point, I was using a wine bottle for rolling out dough for pie crusts, buiscuits and cookies.

After a while, by trial and error, I learned that pie crusts and biscuits have the best texture when the shortening (I use butter--oil is just not the same, I avoid margarine, and as a vegetarian and observant Jew eschew lard) is chilled, cut into large pieces before being cut into the flour mixture with two knives (one in each hand, cutting in opposite directions from the center) or one of those gadgets with a handle and a series of parallel, lower half circle shaped wires. Part of the "secret" is to resist cutting the shortening too fine, the dough should not resemble cornmeal in texture rather, still have small lumps of shortening. Then one should handle it as little as possible--the warmth of your hands melts the shortening, sprinkle on a bit of ice water or other liquid straight from the fridge.

Mira Dessy said...

Another comment that somehow wound up in Gmail instead of on the blog---really have to figure out why that is happening.

Paula wrote:
Do you think they could have been used as dumplings? I am not a baker, and need to follow a recipe exactly to have a hope of an edible outcome, so maybe my idea won't work.


My response was that I had considered that but was concerned that since the biscuits were already baked the bottoms might come out okay but the tops would then be overdone.

Dumplings normally bake on top of the stew/soup/casserole as the dish itself cooks. They absorb some of the liquid (which is part of what makes them so soft and delicious). But they are typically formed from raw dough to start.

I love that Paula was thinking though...that's the key, to always be curious in the kitchen.

Be well,