The talented Audax from Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
These are super easy to make, so I expect all of you to go out and make them today, or tomorrow at the latest. You probably have everything in your kitchen that you need already, no special trips to the store are needed. (that is my favorite part)
This recipe is what I like to call a base recipe, from here you can make so many things out of this by just changing one or two little things. For a shortcake you could add some sugar to the dough, you could make a cheese and herb biscuit, or a buttermilk or cream biscuit. The additions are limitless.
Basic Baking Powder Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch biscuits or five 3-inch biscuits
Recipe can be doubled or tripled easily
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt-optional
2 tablespoons frozen vegetable shortening or butter (I use shortening)
about ½ cup cold milk
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky biscuits or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender biscuits. I used a pastry blended it worked just fine.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the biscuits will be. Use a wooden spoon
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your biscuits knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your biscuits knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.) You may need to add a bit more flour to your board
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick. Using a well-floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out without twisting six 2-inch rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch layer and cut two more biscuits. Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your biscuits or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look. I didn't glaze mine
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until they are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. They are ready when the sides are set. Remember the bigger the biscuit the longer it takes to cook. If you make the bigger ones then bake for another 2-5 minutes
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm. Top with jam, gravy or butter. They are good just as they are too.