Monday, March 5, 2012

Baking a Better Biscuit (Fontina, Sage, and Spelt Biscuits)

As I mentioned before, I grew up surrounded by a big family and we'd regularly get together, almost always involving food. One thing my great-grandmother always made for Saturday breakfasts were her delicious, fluffy, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth perfect biscuits. How she did it I will never know.

Glowing with pride
That's the thing. On a few occasions, my mother attempted to learn this mysterious art, but each time she tried to recreate them, they just weren't quite the same.

J was completely on board with making biscuits. He may love many baked goods, but biscuits are one of his favorites. Figuring it would be a coup to master the art of the biscuit, I got to work scouring the internet.

In the end, I adapted (quite a lot of) a recipe for cheddar & chive biscuits. Not all of my adaptations were intentional, I'll admit: I inadvertently used three whole sticks of butter instead of the two recommended by the recipe, but that turned out to be what we call  a "happy mistake." The resulting biscuits are sinfully rich, despite being infinitely edible. The buttery Fontina melts into a flaky, velvet-tender crumb, underscored by the woodsy tang of sage. I say with confidence that should you try these out on your family one weekend morning; they will devour them in minutes.

You'll want to eat the entire stack
Fontina, Sage, and Spelt Biscuits
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Some sage advice from the recipe linked above: "When cutting the butter into the flour, work quickly so it doesn't melt too much before you put the biscuits in the oven. And when adding the milk, don't over-mix the dough; stir until the ingredients are just combined."

3 c spelt flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 1/2 c (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 c finely shredded Fontina cheese
1/3 c chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line two baking sheets with silpats.

Like buttery sand
Sift together the spelt flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubes of butter, and, using a pastry cutter, begin to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until pea-sized clumps begin to form.

Cheese makes everything better, right?
Add the sage and Fontina, and stir to incorporate.

Gotta add some moisture to the mix
Pour in the buttermilk, stirring until just combined.

All rolled up and no place to go
Pat into a thick disc, cover in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to chill for approximately 30 minutes. Remove the dough, placing again onto a floured surface.  Knead (or roll) out the dough until it's about 1" thick.

They stack up well
Using a biscuit cutter, begin to remove each biscuit and place on the silpat. Bake until the biscuits are golden-brown and a toothpick in the center of a biscuit comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

I've got a fever, and the only cure is more biscuits


Laura said...

What beautiful pictures! And I love the new header. Happy March!

AEthanP said...

Thanks, Laura! The early morning light really does make for the best photos. And I love the new header, too-it was a trek around town for us to find lavendar blossoms!

Sarah (Snippets of Thyme) said...

These are gorgeous. I noticed them on TS because I was looking for what to bake this weekend. I'm making these! I just planted my summer sage so I am set. Thank you.

AEthanP said...

Thanks, Sarah, and welcome! To be honest, the biscuits were a total 'tryout' that turned out more successful than I could have hoped! Hope you enjoy making them this weekend! (PS - LOVE your blog!)