There are a million recipes for Angel Biscuits. They’ve probably been around since baking powder was invented. I have a wonderful handwritten recipe from the grandmother of a friend. I’ve seen them in cookbooks forever. There is not a lot of variation. They are what they are…wonderful. There are several things I’ve done over the years to get mine exactly the way that I like them, though. I use a mix of lard and butter instead of shortening. I keep my fat bits relatively intact in the dough. I also roll out the dough and fold it several times. The result is that the biscuits have wonderful layers. They beg for a big slathering of salted butter and marmalade.
This is what yeast looks like when it is proofing. The yeast is a living thing and begins to cause slight bubbling. Some people put a pinch of sugar in the proofing bowl to feed the yeast and make it happy. Some say to never ever put salt in proofing yeast because it kills it before it even begins. If it doesn’t bubble up foam a bit…your yeast might be old. Periodically, check the expiration date on your yeast packages. Buy new yeast rather than using out of date yeast. Your time is too valuable to wreck a recipe due to old ingredients.
If you are new to the idea of baking with lard, here is a link to my leaf lard primer. It isn’t any old lard. If I didn’t have fresh lard, I’d probably resort to shortening. I’ve yet to make them with all butter, but I bet that is pretty great, too. Speaking of lard, in the photos you will see that the fat on the scale looks like white otter-pops. Yum. I’m kidding, but this is my new way of dealing with lard. I store my fresh lard in the freezer, and up until recently in tubs. To work with them was treacherous. I would end up taking a big knife to a frozen, slippery chunk of fat. That is asking for a trip to the ER. Then it dawned on me that I could thaw the stuff and place scoops in a ziploc bag, spread it around into an even layer, and then draw stripes up the bag to separate the lard into bars or sticks. Once you lay the bag in the freezer for a bit, it hardens up nicely and then you have portions of lard that are easy to use and simple to pull out to weigh. This is important because using frozen or near frozen lard and butter is important for mixing the dough. It stays in nice little chunks in the dough, ready to explode and cause layering in the biscuits (just like we want it to do in pie crusts).
I’ve posted a lot of biscuits and things lately. There are reasons. First, they are the simplest and nicest of homemade treats. They usually come together quickly and when eaten fresh out of the oven, feel like the embodiment of love. My school year with the kids and my new obsession with cows and Clay County have me running about like the proverbial headless chicken. I like the comfort and I like the ease of these treats. Also, my new goal with PIE is to simply make sure I have all of the recipes that I need for myself on here. I cook from PIE just like some of you do. I’m not so much trying to be entertaining anymore…or prompt with new ideas…as I am trying to make sure my own cyber-recipe-box is up to date so I can find my dang biscuit recipe when I need it. I’ve lost this one three times and had to reconstitute the numbers and test them all over again. It is trying. So, I’m posting it here for myself…and I hope you too like it.
Speaking of convenient, this is technically a refrigerator dough. You can make it all at once, or you can use little bits over the course of 5 days. That is why my pan has only 5 biscuits. Two for me, two for my husband, and one just in case. Make a whole bunch, or make a few. Do what works for you.
|Angel Biscuits|| |
- 1 package of yeast (1/4 ounce)
- ¼ cup warm water
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, grated
- ½ cup (4 ounces) fresh leaf lard, grated
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Place the yeast in a small bowl containing the warm water. Mix and allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes. If the yeast doesn't bubble a bit, check your expiration date.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Sift using a whisk until all the ingredients are combined.
- Prepare the fats by grating both the lard and butter on a grater. Place the grated butter and lard back in the freezer to harden. If you don't have a grater, try to cut the fats into pea size bits.
- Place the butter into the flour mixture and toss the butter into the flour with your hands to distribute it. Then do the same with the lard. When the fats are distributed evenly, pinch the larger fat chunks into the flour with your finger tips. Work some of the fats into the flour until you have a gravel like consistency, with fat bits still visible.
- Mix the yeast and water into the buttermilk and then pour it over the flour mixture. Mix with a spoon or your hands until all the liquid is absorbed by the flour, and ensuring that all of the flour is moistened. Do not over mix. Place the dough into a plastic tub and place it in the refrigerator for several hours, and up to 5 days.
- To make the biscuits, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove a portion of the dough to a well floured surface. Use your hands to pat the dough into a workable disk. Then roll out the dough into approximately a rectangular shape. Fold the dough over onto itself and, again, roll the dough again into a roughly rectangular form. Again, fold the dough over onto itself and repeat the folding and rolling process for one additional time (a total of at least 3 folds). Finally, roll the dough out to a ¾" thick rectangle and cut biscuits with a 2.5" biscuit cutter, flouring the cutter between each biscuit.
- Place the biscuits into a cast iron skillet or other sided baking baking dish. Arrange the biscuits snugly against one another. Bake for 15 minutes.