Tuesday, June 12, 2007

biscuits n bernal heights

I'm moving to Bernal Heights!!

I'm going to be a stone's throw away from Tartine n BiRite n Ritual n Dolores Park n spunky hipster kids n cute ladies n punk boys. In just two weeks. In a house with a yard with avocado trees, baseball fans, lots of little dogs and a sunlit front room with my name on it. FINALLY, finally I can do other things with my free time than look for apartments. Finally I can get all the pieces of my west coast life together.

So tomorrow I'm making pie. Peach ginger pie with Frog Hollow peaches and Maura's buttery, flaky unbelievably textural dough. The dough is chilling right now.

But, biscuits. I've been trying new recipes all the time. The Frog Hollow default recipe calls for hard-cooked egg yolks sieved then added to the dough. And I don't understand what the yolks are there for...texture? Certainly not flavor profile.

So I tried Shuna's recipe at home, and they're pictured above. Because I don't have a scale here I had to convert all the measurements to cups and measuring spoons, and something was not right. When I added the cream (or crema, since the stores here have no real cream and I was too lazy to get to Albertson's) the dough got VERY liquidy. oops. So I kept adding alternating spoonfuls of AP and cornmeal and prayed...and they came out buttery-rich and perfect! I intended to make shortcakes, but really I just kept eating them warm with butter. Yum. They set the standard for biscuit improvement.

Those strawberries I'd bought just went to top my lemon verbena ice cream after macerating a while in some crushed lemon verbena leaves and sugar. Yum.

Then for work purposes I tried Emily Luchetti's shortcakes from "A Passion for Dessert." I doubled the recipe which maybe was a bad idea considering the leavening but they came out monstrously. Seriously, it was bad. Like, I cooked them for 20 minutes or so until they were brown and they'd sprung like wild. Then I took them out, cut into them when they were cool...totally raw inside. I cut them all, put them back in the oven, cooked them until they were cooked enough to be okay for consumption, and felt like a failed baker. The taste? They were okay, lemony, a little sweet. Not what I wanted. What I want is a texture-rich, buttery, slightly gritty biscuit that isn't too sweet. Kind of like those really great biscuits from Grandma Max's on the road in Kansas, which were possibly microwaved and from a mix, but were damn fine especially after a dozen hours of driving. Oh, I miss driving. And Boston, and decent summer weather.

Here are the bad Luchetti biscuits.

This week I'm giving David Lebovitz's another try for cornmeal biscuits.

I've put out a call for biscuit recipes to my coworkers. Keeping up the hard work, earning my scars.

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