Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cilantro Jack Buttermilk Biscuits









     "Ain't Nobody Make Biscuits Da Way Momma Used To Make!" 
     The steam from butter and lard is what creates a great biscuit texture.  Jack cheese is oily, so it also adds to the light biscuit texture.  The chilled solid fats are cut into the flour, till the flour and cold fat grains are the size of small peas.  When cold butter milk is added, the dough has to be made quickly, so the dough remains cold.  
     As long as the tiny cold fat and flour riced pieces remain cold, the explosive steam making power will remain intact!  It is the steam that is created by the riced flour that gives biscuits a great layered fluffy texture.  If necessary or if the kitchen temperature is hot, then chill the dough before rolling the dough out. 

     Fiddling around with making new biscuit flavors is fun to do.  It is always best to think up a theme when doing so.  For example, the theme for today's biscuits is a southwestern flavor.
     Different types of flour require recipe adjustments.  Sometimes more buttermilk or baking powder has to be added, when a heavy grain flour is used.  Some types of zero gluten flour do have to be combined with a high gluten flour.  For example, if straight amaranth flour alone was used to make biscuits, the biscuits would be heavy as lead with a crumbly brick texture.     


     Today's recipe just requires good old fashioned all purpose flour.  Unbleached all purpose flour is always a good choice, if it is available.  All purpose flour was created during WWII when ration shortages were commonplace.  All purpose flour is a combination of super fine ground short gluten strand pastry flour and higher gluten bread flour.  This type of flour makes just "okay" quality pastry or cake, but it does make nice biscuits or bread.   

     Cilantro Jack Buttermilk Biscuits:
     This recipe makes several biscuits.  The amount of biscuits depends on the size of the biscuit cutter and how thick the dough is rolled out.  Extra biscuits can be frozen for later meals.  If cut into 2 1/2" squares, the yield is about 15 biscuits!
     A combination of lard and butter is used in this recipe, so the biscuits will have an old west flavor.
     Place 2 cups of all purpose flour into a bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Sift the ingredients together into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of cold butter that is cut into 1/4" cube pieces.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of ice cold lard that is cut into 1/4" cube pieces.
     Cut the butter and lard into the flour with a fork or a baker's cutter tool (ricing tool), till the flour looks like it has been riced to a small pieces that are about the size of tiny peas.  
     Add 1 cup of cold buttermilk.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped cilantro.
     Add 1/3 cup of Monterey Jack Cheese that is chopped into small pieces.  (about half the size of a pea.)
     Gently stir with a spoon or fork, till the ingredients just barely combine. 
     Only knead the dough, till the dough barely holds together.  (Do not over mix biscuit dough or the texture will be flat instead of light and fluffy!)
     Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, till it is 3/4" thick.  (If the dough is roll out too thick, the biscuits will look like the Leaning Tower Of Pisa!)
     Use a 2 1/2" to 3 1/2" round biscuit cutter to cut biscuits or cut 2 1/2" squares.  Cut several biscuits.
     Combine the scraps and roll them out again to cut a few more biscuits.  (Cut these biscuits to a different size than the first round of biscuits.  This is because after working the dough twice, the texture will be more like a scone than a biscuit!  It is easy to notice the second round biscuits in the pictures above.)
     Place the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking pan. 
     Brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk. 
     Bake in a 425º oven, till the biscuits become fully cooked and lightly toasted with golden highlights on the tops.  (About 10 to 15 minutes)
     Remove the biscuits from the oven and let them cool to a serving temperature.
     Keep the biscuits warm on a stove top.

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