If you’re an aspiring home cook and/or enjoy the science of food, I hope you are listening to Alton Brown’s new-ish podcast “The Alton Browncast.” Each week he goes through interesting food news items, interviews one of his famous chef friends (and they’re great interviews!) and focuses on a specific food. Two episodes ago, he talked a lot about biscuits.
AB dedicated an entire episode to biscuits in Good Eats – he even had his grandma, Ma Mae, on the show to demonstrate how it’s done. He talked a little bit about her in the podcast, and he mentioned a few really important tips.
1) Wet batter = more rise. most of the rise in biscuits is not from the baking powder. It’s from the steam! Ergo, wetter batter = better rise.
2) High initial temperature will make that steam work for you. So AB recommends starting the oven at 500 degrees, then backing down to 400 once the “oven spring” or initial rise occurs.
3) Work the dough as little as possible. He noticed that his grandmother didn’t even bend her fingers when doing a gentle knead to bring the dough together.
This weekend on Saturday, Dave made AB’s southern biscuit recipe with these tips and it was a huge success. So today, I decided to try those tips with scones.
And these same biscuit tips TOTALLY worked for scones. The scones were lighter and softer than any scone I’ve ever made before. The texture was perfect! We will definitely be employing this technique regularly and testing it in other applications.
Here’s what you need:
2 cups AP flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Yes, that’s right! Alton Brown said it was OK.
Start by sifting all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add in the butter cubes, then cut in with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture is mealy – the butter crumbs should almost the same texture of as the flour mixture. Don’t use your hands for this, as they are too warm.
Add in the blueberries and stir to coat them with flour. Pour in the milk all at once, and fold gently to combine. The mixture will not be smooth, and that is ok. Just be sure that the milk and flour are throughly incorporated.
Drop gently onto a baking sheet covered in a silpat or parchment paper. Place in the oven even if it’s not preheated yet. Bake for a total time of 15 minutes, but turn the temperature down to 400 about halfway in, after the “oven spring” has happened (aka the rise).