September 1, 2011

Stupid cats and buttermilk biscuits

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So the title of my blog post is born of my early-morning annoyance. :-) I got up to pray fajr and decided to stay up, do the post on my homemade buttermilk biscuits, and have a nice cuppa latte. Uh, yeah, homemade from a mix! :-D

Anyway had my steamy, milky, yummy cup all made but didn't put the spill-proof lid on it yet. Foreshadowing, anyone? lol It was a bit too hot. Then my stepdaughter Zainab needed me to sign a few forms for school, ok great.

Basheq our cat likes to jump on our counters. I hate it. I don't want his behind on the place where I prep my food. So he jumps up, Zainab PETS HIM, and I instruct her to make him get down. This is a never-ending saga at our home. Well he jumps up again and I slap his bottom.

He takes off like a greased bullet, not jumping straight down, but rather streaking across the counter, spilling my FULL HOT CUP OF STEAMING LATTE, knocking over a dish and the fruit bowl. STUPID CAT!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrr. I put up with him on the best of days (ok ok so I like him a little!) but this just took the cat. Well that's a freudian slip. Meant to say "cake" as in took the cake. LOL

Out goes the cat on the balcony, and down goes me and Z to clean the floor. So now, here I sit, happily ensconced with my 2nd latte of the day and a toasted Pop-Tart. Ooops, sorry, toaster pastry cause ya'll know frugal mamas buy generic. LOL

Alright on to the recipe! I need to check and see if I have any photos; surely at some point I've photographed my lovelies. :-) To any of my UK/rest of the world readers, down south in the US a biscuit is a work of art. It's not a sweet or what we call a cookie and ya'll call biscuit. It's a yummy, lovely, fluffy, edible work of art and every southern cook worth her weight (and ya'll, I got some weight!!!) can make these babies.

I started being responsible to make the family bread when I was about 9 or so. Down south, for the most part, that's either buttermilk biscuits or cornbread. Rolls are for Sunday dinners and Thanksgiving. Please try to keep up. lol

First, and this is gonna stymie most of my readers, you must must must must have White Lily self-rising flour. OK so you can use all-purpose, I'm no stranger to adding baking powder, but White Lily is a must. It's the only flour made from soft winter wheat. It has a lower gluten level which equates to being less tough and chewy. Nice for white bread, bad for biscuits.

You can use another flour but I will not eat your biscuits. LOL When I came here to Massachusetts, I tried King Arthur (a very well-respected brand) Pillsbury, and generic brands. Nothing came close. I looked it up online, trying to find a retailer here. No such luck.

So how, Ummi of Aami, do you get your flour? It's a well-known fact you must bring me a 5lb sack or two when you visit here. My mom and sister both have kept me supplied if I am judicious in my usage. Meaning no more thrice weekly biscuit baking sessions. Boo hoo hoo! Losing my southern accent and my biscuit eating. LOL Actually my sister MAILED me 10 lbs of the good stuff once.

White Lily used to be produced in Knoxville, TN, my little almost-home town. (I was from the countryside, not the "big city" lol.) They shut down production and now it's getting harder to find. They were bought out by Smuckers (damn you, Smuckers!) and now it's made in a plant in Ohio.

OK I just realized how extremely passionate I feel about the subject of biscuit-making and flour. That's because, as a southern girl, biscuits were a part of the almost daily fabric of our lives. Many stories and memories are played out with them in the background, the humble little biscuit.

Alright so if you can get the flour then you need the fat. Before, of course, people used lard which is rendered pig fat. OMG. We never used it (of course pre-Islam I used to eat pork) but it has a heavy greasy odor that's a bit foul to my delicate sensibilities. hehe  The fat of choice?

Cue Crisco! Hydrogenated vegetable oil, solid at room temp and creamy white. OK yeah I've used generic in the past but for my bona-fide, no-fail biscuits, it's Crisco baby.

Yeah, as the picture shows, it makes awesome pie-crust too. ;-)

Alright, flour check, shortenin' check, now the buttermilk. Finally something you can get generic but up here in MA I prefer to use Katie's. Is a home-town company and a great product. Anyway never ever ever ever ever make biscuits without buttemilk. If you don't have it, you don't need biscuits. Do yourself a favor and just make bread. LOL Because there is truly no substitute for thick, tangy buttermilk. Still following? Ok great...

Hey, that's it! 3 ingredients, super-yummy, and here's how ya make it:

Pre-heat oven to 500f. Yes, 500. They cook hot and fast!

Measure out 2 cups self-rising flour. If using all-purpose add half-tsp salt and about 1 tbsp baking powder. Add around a 1/4 cup shortening and mix til crumbly. Don't over mix; I use either a pastry blender or a fork. It should resemble course crumbs.

Next take about 3/4 cup buttermilk. Add it slowly to make sure you don't over-saturate. Wet dough sucks! Mix in slowly with a fork and mix it gently. You don't wanna over-stimulate the gluten; biscuits should be light and airy.

So mix it gently til you have a cohesive ball of dough, sticky but not wet! Turn it out onto a well-floured counter top. Growing up, we used to make them on newspaper. Yeah, go figure. Anyway sprinkle it lightly with flour, and knead GENTLY 8-10 times. Really use a light touch or you'll end up with hockey pucks. :-)

Either roll or pat out; I usually just pat it out with my hands. I also don't have a biscuit cutter so I use the outer sleeve of my measuring cup (it's a sliding one). I really need a biscuit cutter tho!

Gather up the scraps and gently pat them out cut again. We don't waste biscuit dough!!! lol

Place them gently on the non-greased cookie sheet. I don't let my touch, placing them an inch or so apart. Do it however you like.

Never throw away the little scrap left over. Either make a whimsical biscuit shape or let your kids make their own. Aaminah and both my boys loved doing that.

Now bake in the hot 500f oven for 10 minutes. Yeah 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt a bit of butter to brush on the tops as soon as they come out. The yum-factor is outta this world.

Serve with turkey sausage gravy (oh yes please!), any breakfast meat, or just butter, jelly or honey. Or do like us and eat it all 3 ways at one time. haha Makes 8 or so biscuits.

Hmmm now I'm wanting some biscuits! Here's a pic of the finished, mouth-watering photo:

Delicious homemade buttermilk biscuit with beef baconomgomgomg! :)

Ma salaama ya'll! This was in response to Sr. Teri's request for my buttermilk biscuit recipe.


♡ αmαℓ said...

Mashallah that was fun to read :p Had to laugh at having your sister send you flour hahah. The biscuits look delicious! :)

Umm Aaminah said...

Thanks Amal! And I think you get the prize for fastest read and comment ever. I just posted maybe 10 minutes ago? Masha'Allah! lol

Teri said...

oh my yummy-ness! I'm going out in search of White Lily and buttermilk! Thank you so much Sr. {hugs}
Ma Salaama!

Muslim Convert said...

Oh I so want a cat, my husband loves them, we had 3 at one time, but that was before kids and they have since passed away (old age). He hates the shedding and I would hate to have to give them up if we made a long distance move.
The biscuits look really really good mashAllah, my grandma ate them often and I have her eating habbits. I always wondered about the different types of flour, bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour.....what's really so different about each one? I use to think it was a ploy to make consumers pay more by thinking they were getting something different than all purpose flour.
Salam Alaikum

Umm Aaminah said...

MC you made me laugh! My best friend is always talking about "marketing ploys" lol.

So here's the differences: cake flour is ultra fine so it makes a nice, light crumb, not heavy.

Bread flour is very high in gluten and can develop that yummy, chewy crust.

Self-rising has leavening added and all-purpose doesn't. For example, for biscuits and pancakes, self-rising is great. For pie crusts and most cookies, not so much cause they don't need to rise.

Hope that helped and I felt your garden pain! lol I've put a lot of my heart and soul into ventures like that before only to have it fail to take root, so to speak. A+++ for effort, though. :-)

ma salaama...

Muslim Convert said...

Lol thanks for the support on the garden and the info on the flour :)

Mona Z said...

Those biscuits look amazing!! I'll have to try my hand at them!

Halima said...

Salams Sis! This really made me smile- I make biscuits too like the good Alabama-born girl I am, he he! My Algerian husband gobbles them up and says they are just like some type of bread he used to eat as a kid in Algeria- yeah, whatever. I make them pretty much the way you described and the way my Mamaw made them, only I exchange the Crisco for margerine and it works just as well! You really can't tell the difference.