The sun was actually out this weekend, so Kramer and I were eager to get out of the house. We sat outside for an after-dinner drink with friends at Hot Bird, walked across the Williamsburg Bridge for dinner at Mission Chinese, and knocked back a few at The Drink and Pearl’s Social & Billy Club while donning our sweet shades. It was glorious. I think it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but I’m fine with that as long as I can still have my windows open for a little bit. I was beginning to forget what this “fresh air” business was. Not that we weren’t breathing in tons of fumes as we crossed the East River on a foot bridge next to hundreds of cars and an above ground subway line, but I digress. Being outside is awesome and spring-slash-early summer in New York makes the bitterly cold winters 100% worth the pain and suffering. The only dark spot hovering over our nearly perfect weekend was that despite having gone to bed at 10:30 on Sunday (due to the aforementioned galavanting), our stupid upstairs neighbors locked themselves out again last night and decided to ring our doorbell at 3am in an attempt to get back into their apartment. WHY GOD WHY. WHY ME. They have done this one too many times and I may or may not be plotting my revenge. That revenge may take the form of ringing their doorbell at 8am on a Saturday, when they are all undoubtedly trying to sleep one off. Too bad, kids! Your downstairs neighbor will make you pay.
Try some leaf lard – it’s a life changer.
This post encompasses two awesome products I was recently sent: one is a Silpat, which is something I’ve always wanted and was so excited to receive. They’re expensive, yes, but I’m going to shell out for a second or third or fourth one so that I can use them always. They make a huge difference when baking, I have to say, plus they are re-usable and I am therefore not wasting countless rolls of parchment paper when I’m in the kitchen. The second is from Farm to People, which also sent me that maple syrup that I used in my recent lamb recipe. This time around, I’m using leaf lard, which is the purest form of rendered pork fat that you can use. It doesn’t have any porky flavor, so it gives anything you’re baking with it a clean flavor. At the same time, it has the richness of a fat, like butter, with almost the same rising properties of an oil, so your baked goods will be fluffy and perfect every time. I’m sold on it, to be honest, and while it probably isn’t something that I’ll have in my fridge at all times, I’m definitely going to make sure I use it when I’m whipping up something special. If you want to try out some of the good stuff for yourself, Farm to People is offering 25% off of your order when you use the code CoW25. Awesome, right? If you’re a baker and you’re not a vegetarian, I can’t recommend leaf lard enough. It’s amazing. I made one of my almond flour quiches (is quiches a word?) with it the other week, too, and the crust was just phenomenal. I can’t wait to make a pie crust with it.
So – yes, these are my Blue Ribbon Biscuits. The blue ribbon was awarded to me by me, and I think that’s just fine. I’ve made a lot of biscuits in my day, trying to find the most perfect one. It’s hard! It’s nearly impossible to get the level of pull-apart flaky goodness that you want in a biscuit. My favorite biscuits come from Pies ‘n’ Thighs in Brooklyn, but their recipe didn’t translate well for me at home. I probably over-mixed something. I usually attribute that kind of thing to user error, but also, I didn’t have leaf lard. I’m going to give this recipe a go with a butter and shortening combo soon, but for now, these are The Ones. Look at how flaky and fluffy and all around amazing they are. I found the key to unlock biscuit greatness on Cooking for Engineers, which is Kramer’s preferred cooking blog. The combination of pure pork fat, butter and gently folding the dough into thirds to make lots of layers is what sets these apart from any other biscuit. I was so pleased with myself after I pulled these from the oven. You should know that, despite what I kept trying to tell myself, you need to use a lot of dough to make the perfect biscuit. That means that 4 cups of flour and 3/4 cup of fat only yields 12 biscuits. Look, it’s worth it, I promise, and besides, actually making these guys doesn’t take that much effort. You don’t even need an electric mixer, which I suppose is how it should be if you’re making this classic Southern staple. Read the recipe carefully, fold your dough into thirds, fold it into thirds again, and then smother your best biscuits ever in butter, honey and jam.
Add your butter and lard to your flour mixture.
Then cut it in until coarse crumbs form.
Add in your milk and mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
Then knead a little bit to bring it together. Form into two balls.
Roll out your first ball.
Then fold into an envelope one way, then again a second way to create nice layers.
Cut ’em out.
And bake until lightly golden.
Top with jam and butter.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup leaf lard, cubed
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 2 cups whole milk
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in your cubed leaf lard and cubed butter (if you are not using leaf lard, I recommend using ½ cup unsalted butter and ¼ cup shortening) and cut the fats into your flour mixture until coarse crumbs form, using either your hands or a pastry cutter (I find that hands work best).
- Add in your milk and mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms (do not over mix). Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out, knead gently a few times to bring the dough together, then form into two balls. Set one ball aside while you roll out the first.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle, a little smaller than your baking sheet, then fold that rectangle into thirds, like how you'd fold a piece of paper to fit into an envelope. Fold the dough again into thirds, this time in the opposite direction (see photos above).
- Press the dough with your hands into a rectangle about 1½-inches thick. Use circle cutters to cut the biscuits out, being careful not to twist the cutter as you pull each biscuit out and place on your baking sheet (twisting the biscuits ruins your nice layers). Repeat with your other ball of dough.
- Bake the biscuits for 15-17 minutes, until just barely golden (start watching them at around 12 minutes, as every oven is different). Allow to cool slightly before serving with butter, honey and/or jam.