Too often the idea of a warm and flaky biscuit is associated with Pillsbury’s canned dough. I can’t say that I haven’t had my fair share of Pillsbury’s biscuits, or that they don’t evoke a certain sense of nostalgia when the loud can pops open or flakey layers fall apart. But, I can say that a from-scratch buttermilk biscuit, still piping hot from the oven, is a nearly euphoric experience.
It is first a treat for your eyes, as you’re surprised by the shocking height of the biscuits, formed by chunks of butter turned to steam in the hot oven. Then it is a treat for your nose, as the buttery aroma overwhelms the sinuses. Finally, the rich but tangy taste meets your palate.
Incorporating butter into biscuit dough called the rub in method, a homage to our grandmothers who would use their hands to rub the butter into small flour coated pieces. Since we were working with a large volume, we used a mixer to break the butter into a coarse meal consistency. Then we added eggs and buttermilk, mixing minimally. After being rolled out to 1”, cut, and egg washed, the biscuits were baked at 425°F for 15 minutes.
The biscuits were everything they should be- hot, flaky and buttery. And for obvious reasons, they did not last long at lunch.
While some people associate biscuits and Pillsbury, I will always associate pie with Mom’s Pies in Julian, CA. Each fall my family would make our pilgrimage to Julian for fresh apple pie, always patiently waiting in the long line along the sidewalk for Mom’s Pies. Nothing can beat a Mom’s apple rhubarb pie and I’m not sure that anything will ever be able to.
I’ve tried my hand at mastering pies at home, but knew that I would benefit from some direction and tips. Many home bakers have strong opinions about the dough; some people swear by all butter, some by shortening, and some by half and half. It turns out that the ratio of butter to shortening is dependent on the type of filling and whether or not the crust is pre-baked. Generally, pies with custard fillings, or pies that will not be baked, are made with a shortening crust and fruit filled pies, or baked pies, are made with a butter crust.
We did a very small lattice top for the cherry pie, and did a traditional solid top for the apple pie. Our chef instructor showed us a couple different ways of crimping, but ultimately left it up to us to determine which technique we preferred.
While the cherry pies turned out well, my apple pie did not hold up so well. I’m not positive why, but the crimped crust drooped over the side, making for a very sad looking pie. Perhaps I should re-evaluate my crimping technique.
I must admit that the biscuits and pies stole the show. We also made cream scones, that were very good but were definitely out-shined by the biscuits and pie(maybe it was because of the lack of butter?). The scones were tender, crumbly, and cake like, just as a scone should be.