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Need help: flat, lumpy biscuits :(

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Twice now I've tried making Alton Brown's biscuit recipe from his "I'm Just Here for More Food" book. I don't have the book in front of me, but IIRC the ingredients are (I may be off on the baking powder, soda, and salt):
170g/2c flour
4tbs butter
14g baking powder
4g baking soda
6g salt

1c buttermilk
1/3c plain yogurt
1 egg

Baked for about 15 minutes at 450F.


The biscuits taste great, but I'm having two problems:

1. The dough is so gooey that I cannot use my biscuit cutter to cut it. I have to resort to scooping some up with a spatula and slapping it onto my baking sheet. The result of course is an irregular and lumpy shape.

2. Alton says in his book that the biscuits should rise to 2-3 times their original height due to the steam created when baking. Well, mine come out pretty much the same flat, lumpy size they went in at.


Am I doing something wrong here? What can I do to get nice-looking, fluffy biscuits?
post #2 of 15

cut in the fat and keep cold.

Not knowing his method you should do well to use fresh baking powder and soda because they will react with the butter milk and yogurt.

blend togeter dry ingredients
cut in cold butter and rub between clean hands or use paddle to break down butter to pea size pieces, the look will be lumpy sand.
keeping the fat cool,
add your liquids either by hand or with the paddle until incorporated.
chill and get your rolling space ready
roll the dough, -you may need to knead in a small amount of flour and will need it for dusting the board.
roll, cut and bake. should be groovy.
Have your oven pre-heated
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yes, that is basically the method. Blend all the dry ingredients together. The butter is frozen and added to the dry ingredients with a grater. Then the liquids are mixed with a whisk and added on top of the dry. I mix them with a spatula until the dough comes together.

I put the dough on a sheet of parchment and use that to flatten it out by hand. If I used a roller, I would just have a mess of dough stuck all over the roller. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but this stuff is like glue.

EDIT: The baking soda is only 2 weeks old, but the baking powder has been around for a couple of months. Should it be replaced, or is it still OK?
post #4 of 15
Is it really humid where you live?
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Free Rider,
I live in El Paso, we're basically in the desert, although we have been getting a lot of rain lately. Right now we are at about 70%, but usually it is a lot lower.
post #6 of 15
My recommendations would be to watch the liquid content carefully, so do by adding your liquid in small increments and not all at once. When the dough feels "right", stop, despite how much is left.

Secondly, make sure your fat is constantly cold, if your fingers start feeling very greasy and the dough very soft, stop and refridgerate it for a little while before continuing. The desert is hot during the day.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #7 of 15
I believe the problem is the recipe.
All the biscuit recipes I've checked call for the ratio of 2 cups flour to 1 cup liquid. Between the buttermilk, yogurt and egg (huh?-what's with the egg? some kind of yankee thing?) You have almost a 1:1 ratio of flour to liquid.
Check for the freshness of your leavening, it stales pretty quickly.
But I think eliminating the egg and the yogurt and just sticking with the buttermilk will do the trick.
Also, make sure your oven is hot enough. Many people's problems with biscuits is that they bake them in too cool an oven. Go for at least 400-425?.

Just for the record, here is my favorite, called Hattie's Big Winner Biscuits-it comes from the Mast Farm Inn Cookbook by Sybil Pressly:

2 cups self rising flour (not self rising cake flour)
2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold shortening or butter, cut in little pieces
1 cup buttermilk
melted butter
Preheat oven to 425?F. Adjust oven rack to top 1/3 of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, fork or two knives cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until it resembles "sand and pebbles". Add the buttermilk and mix with a rubber spatula until you have a ragged dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 3-4 times until it comes together into a unified ball. Roll out to 3/4" thick. Cut with a floured 2 1/2" round cutter. Reroll and cut scraps only once, but bake the scraps for snacking. Bake 14-18 minutes until golden brown on bottoms. Brush tops with melted butter.

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #8 of 15

I dunno...it seems like way too much fluid for 2 cups flour...

Even if it's a drop biscuit recipe, which needs to be little lumpy mounds.

My grandma's recipe:
preheat oven to 425

2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tb sugar
1/2 c shortening (I like the freeze/grated idea)
2/3 c buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients
Cut cold shortening into dry ingred until coarse
Add liquid all at once
Stir with fork until it forms a ball
Kneed lightly on floured board
Press to about a half inch
Cut into rounds (or whatever you feel like)
Bake on greased pan for 15-20 minutes

Sounds like you've got a drop biscuit recipe though.

You can add 1/3 c milk to the above and drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

No egg...<?Yeah, what IS up with that?>

I'd use an egg for an egg wash but not in it...

Another possibility is an elevation issue, but I don't know how high El Paso is.

April
post #9 of 15

Biscuits or scones

Whats the difference between American biscuits and English scones, these
(scones)were made to a recipe almost the same in the earlier post ommiting the salt, salted butter instead, and adding a little more sugar if sweet scones are the order of the day. No egg, not always buttermilk, no yogurt, just milk.
qahtan


http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58...ake/scones.jpg
post #10 of 15
There isn't too much difference between American soda biscuits and scones, though by using cream scones are a drier and denser product. They are also not served during meal time as a starch, but more as a snack to go with tea, right?
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
Reply
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback folks. I don't have much baking experience, but compared to the other recipes, it does indeed seem like too much liquid.

I'll try again, this time deleting the egg and using 2/3c buttermilk, which will give me 1c total liquid versus 2c flour.

EDIT: If I cut the buttermilk by 1/3, do I also need to reduce the soda since there will then be less acid in the liquid?
post #12 of 15

Biscuits or scones...

Scones get eaten at anytime in our house, as you say though not with a meal, I wouldn't say scones are heavy or dense, on fact if made properly they are quite light.

This same mixture I have used as a sort of cobbler, or even left out the sugar and used as a top to chicken or beef and veggies in a pot, like a dumpling.
I call it a multipurpose mix. :-))) qahtan
post #13 of 15
I think in that case it would be an interpretation of what one thinks a proper scone is (not that I think they should be leaden disks, but if they remind me of my friend's mother's biscuits, they won't seem right :) ). I won't admit to being a scone authority, but I've had long time scone eaters try mine and they "seemed" to really like them (I felt they were denser than any biscuit I've had).
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
Reply
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
Reply
post #14 of 15

Biscuits and scones

I suppose it's what one is used to.
That said in Devonshire and Cornwall where scones are served as part of a cream tea they can be lousy I wouldn't even give them to the birds :-)))))) qahtan
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
UPDATE:
I made this recipe again, but this time deleted the egg and only put in 1 cup of the buttermilk/yogurt mixture. The results were pretty good. I could actually cut and form the dough, and they did rise a bit in the oven.
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