Saturday, October 03, 2009
Making biscuits - similar to any kind of bread, really - is an art. You simply must have the right touch to do it right. I've been practicing this art for many years, and I still have a lot to learn. These biscuits were close - they have a great flavor - but they're still missing that Southern Grandma Sparkle. I'm not sure exactly where that sparkle comes from. I've got my Great Aunt Katie's biscuit cutter. Brad's grandmother had a specific Biscuit Bowl. And of course I've got Southern blood running through my veins. But I've yet to tap that Sparkle. Maybe when I'm a grandmother, and I have wee grandbabies running around to make biscuits for, I'll uncover it!
Many years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Russia. (I was 13, to be exact. Let's not think about just how long ago that was!) To my 13-year-old palate the food left a lot to be desired. When I think now about the smoked fish and caviar and pancakes I scoffed at I could kick my 13-year-old tail, but kids will be kids, and I was no exception. Thank God there was apple butter everywhere. I ate a lot of it (along with the granola bars in my suitcase when I left the table!) Thus began my love affair with it. Good thing, too, because I live in a Land of the Apple. (North Carolina ranks around seventh in the country for apple production.) Brad recently came home with a bag of Johnny Gold apples from Wilkes County. They were some of the best apples I've ever eaten, and Cash loved them, too. (With peanut butter. Of course. Like I said, we're pretty typical around here!)
Fall is here, and if you're faced with gray, rainy day after gray, rainy day like we have been, apple butter and biscuits is a great way to spend the day indoors. This apple butter is made in the crockpot, which makes it pretty hands-off. And the biscuits come together in 20 minutes, meaning tomorrow morning for breakfast you could enjoy a hot cup of coffee and warm, Southern biscuits and apple butter. Can you think of a better way to welcome fall? I sure can't.
Adapted from Food TV
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup cold buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, add butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together; it will be sticky.
3. Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet, touching. Gently reform leftover dough, and cut out more biscuits. (This second batch may not be as fluffy.)
4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until biscuits are tall and golden brown.
Crockpot Apple Butter
Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking
Printer friendly recipe
18 large apples
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 T vanilla
1. Spray inside of crockpot with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
2. Peel, core and quarter apples. Put all apples in crockpot. Pour vanilla over apples and cook on high for 4 hours.
3. Stir apples. Add sugars, cinnamon and cloves, stirring well. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. For smoother butter, use immersion blender. You can also leave it chunky if you prefer. Let cool in fridge overnight.
4. Put in glass jars; keeps about 1 month in the fridge. (You could try deep-freezing it for up to 3 months, but I didn't try this yet.) I got 5 pint-size jars, which were perfect for gifts.