Sunday, November 22, 2009

Biscuits for the Bin

And for my 10th post: a flop.

To accompany this week's Blonde Lentil Soup I whipped up a batch of biscuits. Or, rather, they whipped me. Any way you view it, I ended up with a bruised ego.

I remember the biscuits of my childhood: puffed to perfection, flaky, soaked in margarine (yes, we northwesterners then proudly cooked with Marigold), and yummy to the tummy.

My pre-teen self believed it was my own cunning hand that consistendly turned out beautiful biscuits. Nothing to do with the recipe or ingredients, just my own my brilliant ability to measure and stir. To cut-in the shortening. To turn the dial on the oven.

Apparently not.

Perhaps my magical biscuit abilities have dissipated over the past twenty years, but those I made this week were bad. Not bad enough to immediately throw out, mind you. We did choke them down, bathed in butter and soaked in the lentil soup. But they were not good enough to keep around, even though there were many left after dinner. They were flat, burned on the bottom, and dry. Unappetizing.

I took their recipe from Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure: book two (1978):


2 cups white flour
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup cold milk

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slice the butter while it is very cold, add it to the dry ingredients, and cut it in with a pastry blender or two knives until ti si in bits the size of split peas. The texture of this mixture should be a little more coarse than that of a short-crust mixture before the liquid is added.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup cold milk over the flour and butter, and stir it in quickly with a fork. Add only as much more of hte milk as is necessary to make the dough hold together.

Gather the dough up into a ball, working it together with your hands very briefly, and then roll it out 1/2 inch think on a floured board. Cut out small rounds and place them on ungreased baking sheets. If you aren't going to put them in the oven immediately, chill them in the refridgerator until ready to bake.

Bake the bicuits in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned on top. Serve with butter.

Make about 20 biscuits.

This is one recipe I followed to the letter, with no substitutions. I don't know if it's just a rotton recipe (it's certainly not an overly complicated one) or if it was my sadly lacking baking skills again (see my not-so-great Gingerbread Apple Pie attempt), but I probably won't attempt this exact recipe again.

If any of you have used Anna's recipe and found it to be a great success, let me know. Or don't. Because if you do then I'll know that it was me that was the flop.


  1. Biscuits are really tricky!! I have burnt my fair share!! I am absolutely going to try the blonde lentil soup:)

  2. Yay! Yes, the lentil soup was FAB. The biscuits: not so much. :p

  3. Having made that recipe hundreds of times, and given the recipe away dozens of times; I would guess that you didn't use hard butter or otherwise let you butter melt in the dough prior to baking.

    Consider putting the stick of butter in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to cutting it into the flour. And put the biscuits right into the oven after shaping.

    Good luck!