Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Biscuits


A friend* recently asked if I ever did "nothing," i.e., just sit and think.  After I thought about it (for about a minute), I realized I never do. I always am doing "something" and often two things simultaneously.  Not that I'm an accomplishment junkie -- unless one considers playing iPad solitaire while watching the Real Housewives of New York a productive use of time.

But Friday morning, feeling guilty about some rather slothful behavior the day before, I awoke at 5 a.m. and baked two batches of biscuits, and pulled them from the oven in time to roll out my mat for a 7 a.m. yoga class.

These recipes are not from my handwritten collection, but were published in a 1940s Chambers Stove cook book.  My modern oven is still on the fritz, so I'm using my vintage Chambers (below) and figured I'd try one of the recipes from the accompanying cook book.


The recipes -- for baking powder biscuits and soda biscuits (known now by the more appealing name of buttermilk biscuits) -- are simple to follow, take just minutes and deliver a great result.  Why bother with Poppin Fresh when these are so quick and easy?

So, which was the better biscuit?  The DH thought the buttermilk were far superior.  I kind of liked the baking powder ones, probably because they contained a bit of sugar.  Forgot to survey my work colleagues, but trust me, you can't go wrong with either biscuit. (I recently made biscuits from a modern recipe for strawberry shortcake and they were not nearly as good as either of these.)

Place the dry ingredients in a food processor (or a large bowl) and cut in the butter (by machine or using a pastry blender or two knives if you're going old-school).


Add the milk and mix with a spoon.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat down to half the size you want the finished biscuits to be -- they will rise in the oven.


Cut with a biscuit or cookie cutter.


Form the scraps back together gently and continue cutting biscuits until you've run out of dough.


Bake in a hot -- 450 or 500 degree oven -- for about ten to 15 minutes.  I used a parchment lined baking sheet.

Both types of biscuits were light and fluffy (buttermilk is on the left).




Production notes: I used butter instead of shortening for both recipes. Don't try to finish these on retained heat if you have a regular oven.  Chambers were specially insulated so that it "Cooks with the gas turned off," saving energy and supposedly freeing the housewife.



*Even though he does plenty of nothing, said friend, a Yale-educated Episcopalian priest and arts genius, still manages to accomplish an enviable amount of things.

6 comments:

  1. I think you probably put many of us to shame.

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    1. Thanks Barb, but I truly excel at wasting time, and lots of it!

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  2. Both of those look yummy. And if online games and Real Housewives is productive, I'm pretty productive too!

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    1. Funny, Union Girl! Thanks for writing.

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  3. I think your Chambers stove is the exact same model as the one my mother had. Wow. I never get tired of looking at the pics on your blog, hoping for a glimpse.

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    1. I do love that stove -- a reliable classic. I'm considering not investing the $400 to repair my modern electric oven and just continuing to use the Chambers. So far, everything has come out ok, sort of a miracle since the thermostat can't really be regulated.

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