Sorry about the delay – it’s *that* point in the semester when I’ve been living off takeout and Cheez-Its while studying for midterms and applying for law school. But I did make these a little while back!
When I studied abroad in London in Fall 2007, my friends and I came to realize there were just some foods that you couldn’t find overseas. None of them were debilitating by any means, but it was still strange to not find sweet potatoes, iced tea (ignoring that I don’t even like sweet tea) and maple syrup.
Sure, there were all sorts of cool foods you can’t get in the U.S. or have to pay import prices for, but after about two and a half months, I started to crave biscuits.
Problem was: “biscuits” in England are essentially cookies. They have scones, but nothing comparable to the cholesterol-spiking balls of goodness we have here. We even did an experiment by going to all the American fast food chains in central London (McDonalds, Burger King, etc.) for breakfast and ordering what we thought would be the same food as here.
What did they have? “Bacon, Egg and Cheese BAGELS.” It blew my mind. And when my parents came to visit before Thanksgiving, they wouldn’t sneak a Bojangles biscuit into their luggage for me. (Yes, I would eat it after a seven-hour plane ride.)
So my friend Andrew took pity on us one night and whipped up a pan of drop biscuits. They didn’t have that classic round shape, but they were excellent. And they satisfied my biscuit craving until I got home, although I demanded a Bojangles stop on the ride home from the airport.
With that as inspiration, I decided to make my own biscuits a couple weeks ago. The recipe I tried came from America’s Test Kitchen’s online recipe archive. Once you register for the site, you get access to all the recipes from all the seasons.
It was a pretty simple recipe, especially once I substituted the fresh buttermilk for powdered buttermilk reconstituted with skim milk. I’ll post about this tip later, but this simplified the number of ingredients you need and makes these biscuits something you can make whenever you want with simple ingredients.
According to the recipe, you also have to do a special procedure to mix the butter and buttermilk – and it is not attractive. Just a warning.
However, the reasoning behind this procedure worked – the butter clumps allowed the biscuit to have air pockets once it baked, and therefore they were fluffy, not dense.
My only other modification to the recipe would be to recommend that you reduce the two tablespoons of melted butter to brush on top of the biscuits to one tablespoon. The recipe only makes 12 biscuits, and there was so much better on top, it was running off the sides. I know that’s probably good, but I bet they’d be fine with half as much butter.
Best Drop Biscuits
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk (cold), made from powdered mix
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for brushing biscuits
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.
Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high).
Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Loosely shape biscuits if desired. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.
Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sea-Turtle