Patience is a trait I could practice more. My willpower is pretty strong, so I'm aces at making myself wait for things when I need to, I just don't like doing it. I gulp my tea (a habit of my mother's, is that genetic?), even though I want it to last. I skip through the entire wine section of Food & Wine every month, even though I think it would probably be edifying to read. I nearly lost my mind at my last trip to the DMV, in Flushing, when I took my seat in a big, airless room packed with bodies only to realize my ticket read 748 and we were on 613.
But I made it! There was some deep breathing involved, and a quiet reminder that I am a very lucky human being overall and waiting is not the end of the world and also if I voiced my real thoughts about the scenario, I'd likely be escorted out by the burly security guard.
This brings me to today's topic: biscuits. Biscuits are an actual godsend for anyone who doesn't count patience as a strong suit. Or even if you do, and you are just in a rush! Biscuits are excellent for the pressed-for-time, the oh-shit-I-forgot-about-dinner, the I-need-carbs-ASAP, the bread-takes-too-long among us all.
Next time you are about to rush out to the store to pick up bread, or biscuits, or crackers, just try making them. Give it one chance! I promise you'll be surprised by how easy and fast it is -- in the time you can have warm biscuits emerging from the oven, you'd still be wandering the grocery aisles.
Biscuit-making is simple, but it's a little bit of an art form. By that I mean, specific instructions are less helpful than learning the proper feel of the dough. Follow along with my directions, but most importantly, get in the kitchen and try it a few times to get the hang of it.
I've never come across a biscuit I didn't like, but I am particularly into simple, extra-flaky versions that balance butteriness with airiness. You can dress these up however you like: Add herbs, spices, and so on (the ones pictured up top are sprinkled with everything bagel spice). If you like extra-savory biscuits, try these Parmesan biscuits.
Makes 12 medium biscuits
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup butter (2 sticks), very cold, cubed
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 425° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the cold butter using a fork or pastry cutter: You should end up with pea-sized lumps, but don't worry too much about precision here. It's more important to not overwork the dough, and not warm the butter up. You want to make sure each lump of butter is coated in flour, and err on the side of bigger chunks of butter. They don't need to be perfectly uniform in size!
Stir in the cheddar cheese. Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together in a shaggy, wet mess. Don't overmix here -- once the buttermilk is pretty well-distributed (you'll still have plenty of dry spots), use your hands to press and fold the dough together so it's mostly in one mass.
Then, turn the dough out onto a countertop and very gently fold the dough over onto itself a few times, pressing down lightly until it comes together. Again, you want to use more of a folding motion instead of a kneading motion. Pat the dough out to 1 1/2-inch thick. Using a sharp biscuit cutter, cut out circles. Place the dough circles onto your lined baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just barely golden brown.