Meem and O are huge Alton Brown fans. When we heard he was coming to Knoxville, it was a no brainer that we would be going to see him. Is what I didn't know is that I'd find myself at the Tennessee Theater kicking off the beginning of The Southern Biscuit Festival. Who knew such a thing existed?
Photo: Food Network
Alton Brown, famed Food Network star of Good Eats, enticed us with a quest "In Search of his Grannies Kick Ass Biscuits." What did make her biscuits so incredibly good and why couldn't Alton succeed in making them?
Was it the flour?
He uses Whilte Lily Self-Rising Flour but he doctors it up a little bit by adding a little more baking powder and soda.
What about the fats?
Crisco all the way and sometimes butter. One special trick is to put the crisco into the flour and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Dont' mix it in, just let them mingle overnight in the fridge.
This was an interactive lecture. As Alton spoke about each ingredient, audience members would holler out their questions, comments, and opinions, only to recieve a few in return. Though there were microphones placed so people could be heard while speaking, just yelling it out from the heart made it feel much cosier. Among the top advice given was "Yogurt does not belong in a biscuit."
Ok back to the secret of Granny's Kick Ass Biscuits.
It's not in the ingredients, in fact, Alton stresses not to become an ingredient cultist. A good cook can make a great biscuit with any sort of flour, fat, etc.
It's all in the mixing. His granny had very bad arthritsis and couldn't bend her fingers to mix the dough. She gently folded all of the ingredients together. Alton was kneeding the dough like he was making bread or something. It's just a gentle folding.
The evening was spent among those of us who admire Alton Brown and who love to cook in our own kitchens. After an hour and a half of delving into the biscuit baking world you would have thought they would have given us a biscuit but alas this story ends sadly. Not a biscuit to be had.
The next morning I woke up and I was still craving biscuits. What's a girl to do? I called my best friends, explained the situation, and they met me at Cracker Barrel for a plate full of biscuits and apple butter.
I will not leave you with the same fate as I had, here is Alton Brown's Most Incredible Biscuit Recipe.
- Prep Time:
- 20 min
- Inactive Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- 20 min
- 1 dozen
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life.)
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
MA MAE'S BISCUITS
Advice courtesy of Granny Mae Skelton
I don't have much use for recipes but the one you get on a bag of White Lily(r) self-rising flour is hard to beat. And it's a lot easier than the one my crazy grandson dreamed up.