I’ve got a pretty good biscuit recipe… people regularly tell me it’s one of the best biscuits they’ve ever had. It’s a classic recipe with a few twists like shredding the fat on a box grater for optimum flakiness. In the interest of continuous improvement, I thought I’d see if I could apply some newly acquired kitchen technology and knowledge to improve upon my trusty biscuit recipe… here’s what I came up with.
I started by working under the following assumptions:
Cold fat leads to more lift, and a flakier biscuit. So if cold fat is good, then REALLY cold fat is better… I will use liquid nitrogen to chill my biscuit fats, then take advantage of their brittleness while at cryogenic temperatures to shatter them- creating irregular dispersion through the dough.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder create chemical leavening- they are bubble producers that create a tender biscuit. If gas bubbles are good in a biscuit, I’ll add more- through the use of an iSi container to introduce gas bubbles in my dough that will expand to create both lift and tenderness. In the interest of the most irregularly shaped bubbles, I’ll use both N20 (Nitrous Oxide) and C02 (Carbon Dioxide) to aerate the dough before mixing it with the fat.
Gluten is the enemy of a good biscuit. So in addition to working my dough as little as possible, I’ll substitute 30% of my original recipe’s AP flour with cake flour… less gluten = more tender biscuit.
My previous biscuits tend to spread a bit more than they rise- So I’ll bake these biscuits in a form that will ensure rising… a ring mold dusted with flour.
In my old recipe, I used half butter, half lard. But I used the hydrogenated lard sold on grocery store shelves (armor brand). This stuff really doesn’t have the flavor of naturally rendered lard, so I start my new recipe by rendering some pork fat. You could do this on a stove top, but in the heat of summer a circulator will keep my apartment much cooler so I vacuum seal pork fat back and let it swim at 85C overnight. The rendered fat is chilled in the fridge before portioning.
Before I gather my mise en place, I pre-heat my oven (450F). Once I turn the oven on, I leave the kitchen. I let the oven come to temp with a large 3/4″ thick piece of steel on the bottom rack. This piece of steel is what Modernist Cuisine suggests to make the best pizza you can make in your home oven. It stores up heat and stabilizes the temperature inside the oven… this should be good for biscuits.
Once the oven is pre-heated, I prepare the mise. The extra time at full temperature will ensure that the heat is recovered once the biscuits go into the oven.
For the biscuits: (Makes 6 large biscuits)
195g AP Flour.
84g Cake Flour.
15g Baking Powder.
1g Baking Soda.
38g Ice Cold Butter. (Store it in the freezer overnight)
40g Ice Cold Rendered Pork Fat. (aka lard/leaf lard)
380g Cold Butter Milk.
Liquid Nitrogen, about 1 liter.
iSi Whipping canister.
Two Half Sheet Pans.
Large sheet of heavy aluminum foil.
AP Flour for lining inside of foil rings.
Dissolve the salt in the buttermilk. Reserve.
While the flour mix is chilling, form the foil into rings 2″ Diameter, about 3″ tall. Spray the insides with non-stick spray and dust with AP Flour.
Place the butter and lard into a medium sized bowl of liquid nitrogen- freeze completely. Smash with the hammer into small-ish (gravel sized) pieces. Irregularity is good, it will lead to irregular flake size in the finished biscuit.
Toss the frozen fats in the cake flour to coat evenly. Reserve in freezer.
Combine the sifted flour mixture and buttermilk into a loose batter with the fork. transfer into iSi container, charge once with N20 and again with C02. Shake thoroughly and dispense all of the “batter” into the bowl holding the frozen fats and cake flour. Combine and scoop out onto doubled up sheet pan.
Place in the pre-heated oven and turn heat down to 425F. Don’t even think about opening the oven for at least 13 minutes. They will be done
in 14-18 minutes depending on your oven when they are done… it took about 21 minutes in my oven. Flip the biscuits upside down immediately after removing from the oven to prevent the bottoms from burning.
From here you have basically two serving options:
1) with the best butter and honey you can find. My honey comes from a friend’s farm where his dad keeps bees- it’s completely raw and unfiltered awesomeness.
2) Sausage cream gravy with ridiculous amounts of sausage.
For the sausage gravy:
1 pint heavy whipping cream.
1/2 pound good breakfast sausage.
1 Tblspn AP Flour.
As much black pepper as you can grind before your arm falls off.
Brown the sausage and break into small pieces. Add the flour and sauté for 2 minutes until the flour starts to smell nutty. Add a shit ton of black pepper… this is one of the few places where black pepper is an appropriate flavor so go nuts. Add the cream and bring to a boil stirring regularly. Serve immediately.