Monday, June 4, 2012

Fluffy Yeast Biscuits

My husband said, "I don't know what I like better, the apricot jam on the biscuit, or the biscuit on the jam?"

Fluffy yeast biscuits...Yep, that's the actual name of the recipe - don't you love that? This is from Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey. I scored his book, Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family, at 1/2 Price Books, and I'm so glad I did! I've watched him as a guest judge on Iron Chef and as a contestant on Top Chef: Masters, and his Southern charm is only rivaled by his spectacular-looking food! I made another biscuit recipe of his the other day, which are not a yeast recipe, rather, they were a quick biscuit, and they were tasty. But I long for fluffy biscuits that just smell like fresh bread baking that I can use as a vehicle for my homemade apricot jam that I just put up the other day. These were just the ticket.

Fluffy Yeast Biscuits (via Art Smith)
Two 1/4-ounce packages dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm (105 degrees - 115 degrees) water
4 cups self-rising flour
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled, cut up
1.5 cups buttermilk, as needed

1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve the yeast.

2. Stir the flour, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture looks crumbly with a few pea-size pieces of fat.

3. Make a well in the center, and add the yeast mixture. Stir in enough of the buttermilk to make a moist, shaggy dough. Knead in the bowl a few times, just until the dough comes together.

4. Transfer the dough to a medium bowl (no need to oil the bowl). Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume, about 45 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerated.)

5. Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

6. Pat down the dough. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Pat or roll out the dough until 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Gather up scraps, knead together, and roll and cut out more biscuits until all of the dough is used.

7. Bake, switching the positions of the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the biscuits are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

**Mine did not take the full 20 minutes - I pulled the first batch at 18 minutes and the 2nd batch at around 13 minutes.

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