When I was first married and still trapped in the idea of being "the perfect wife", not that I was ever perfect, just that I tried to be what I thought would make Gene think I was the perfect wife... boy, was there ever a more loaded psychological statement than that one? Yes, I know. I'm still not perfect but I do, at least, realize with 23 years hindsight that Gene loved me for who I was, and am, not because of some baggage in my head. Anyway, back then one of my goals was to make a gorgeous, perfect, from-scratch meal every single night including homemade bread. I did it most nights but it required hours of planning in advance and a couple of hours in the kitchen every day. And that was just for dinner!
While I loved, and still love, to cook real life came crashing in and I soon realized that even though real food, from-scratch cooking, is always the ideal, to accomplish that even for a majority of time requires a few kitchen hacks. Back then I had two for bread: the bread machine and the angel biscuit.
The beauty of angel biscuits is that you can make a huge batch and just pull off what you need for dinner, roll them out, let them rise for 20 minutes to come to room temp and bake them off. Using both the leavening action of traditional bread: yeast, and that of the biscuit: baking powder, plus baking soda and buttermilk.
Baking soda is activated by acid which is why most biscuit recipes call for buttermilk. A kitchen hack I learned in my Mom's kitchen is to use "sour milk" when buttermilk isn't available. You simple add 1 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of regular or what my Nannie (Grandma) would have called "sweet milk". You simply mix the two together and let stand for a couple of minutes until it thickens and curdles: buttermilk!
The one real drawback to angel biscuits that we didn't know about 23 years ago is shortening. My Mom was a cake decorator, back in the dinosaur days of no other option but Crisco and powdered sugar frostings, so we had huge, multiple cans of shortening at our house. I have a confession. Even though I know shortening is a heart attack waiting to happen, we all know the evils of trans-fat, I think I actually drooled on myself a little in the theater when we went to see The Help and Minnie fried that lovely chicken in that big cast iron skillet full of Crisco. Yes, ignorance was indeed bliss. I miss that shortening fried chicken!
But I wasn't willing to completely write off the angel biscuits. You can make traditional biscuits with butter instead of shortening, they're just a little more finicky, a little more crumbly if you're trying to knead and roll them out by hand. But with angel biscuits I don't have any problems at all. I cut the butter in by hand (and use half the amount of it than called for in most biscuit recipes) and then put the dough together in the mixer, using a two bowl method, wet and dry, and it comes together quickly and beautifully. The texture that bakes out is tender, with a crumb exactly midway between a biscuit and a dinner roll. Perfect for any meal but very convenient for work night dinners. (Great with sausage gravy for breakfast too!)
Butter & Honey Angel Biscuits
Copyright Recipe 2015 by Glenna Anderson Muse
Makes 20 biscuits
- 2 cups Milk (full fat, 2%, 1% or skim, whatever you have on hand)
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
- 3 Tbsp Honey, local preferred
- 1 Tbsp or 2 envelopes of Yeast
- 5 cups all-purpose or 50/50 whole wheat/white flour
- 2 tsps. salt
- 2 tsps. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chilled
1. Combine milk, vinegar, and honey. Place in microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes until 110-120 degrees.
2. Stir in yeast and leave on cabinet to proof while working with dry ingredients.
3: Prepare butter by slicing longwise into four long sticks and then by cutting those sticks into cubes.
4. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in the mixer bowl.
5: Cut the butter, half at a time, into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a large-tined fork. With either of those utensils, I start at one point on the side of the bowl and drag the pastry cutter or fork down against the side to the middle, then come back up and do the same thing about an inch to the right of where I started. I keep doing it this way around and around the bowl until the butter bits are all worked in and homogenous.
6. Place bowl on mixer stand, Add the wet ingredients. Mix with dough hook on low until ingredients are all combined and then turn up the mixer to medium to beat or knead the dough for an additional 3 minutes. The dough will be rather wet, wetter than regular yeasted breads, but it will form cohesively. If it's too wet, add a little flour at a time until it holds together.
7. At this point, you have two different options for making the biscuits. You can follow the traditional biscuit method and roll them out to 1/2 inch on a floured surface and cut with a cookie cutter, or you can treat them more as a dinner roll (my choice) by rolling them lightly in your cooking sprayed hands, making a small palm sized roll. Place them on a cooking sprayed cookie sheet with space in between each. Fluffiest if allow to rise 15-30 minutes before baking.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until they are nicely browned.
Nutrition per biscuit: Calories: 164; Protein: 4; Carbs: 29; Fat: 5; Fiber: 1
Turn any leftover dough into a container with tightly closing lid, allowing enough head room for dough to double in the fridge. Will last in the fridge about a week.