Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 78

Today was my first day in Baking and Pastry with Chef Mah. We discussed the elements of the course and his overall expectations. He gave a short lecture on leavening (chemical vs biological) and high versus low protein flours. We produced buttermilk biscuits and sour dough starter. The biscuits turned out delicious. We made half of them plain and with the other half we added jalapenos and sharp cheddar cheese. Chef Mah whipped up some honey butter to top them with. The warm Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits topped with the Honey Butter created a perfect balance of heat, savoriness, and sweetness....absolutely divine. 

There are lots of little things to remember when making biscuits. The most important of those things is to not over-work your dough because you don't want gluten to develop as that will prevent the biscuits from having that wonderful light flakiness (too much gluten = tough biscuit). 

Buttermilk Biscuits
yield: 16-18 3-inch biscuits

10 oz bread flour 
10 oz cake flour 
.37 oz salt
1 oz sugar 
.75 oz baking soda
.75 oz baking powder
7 oz shortening
13 oz buttermilk

*Note: If you do not have bread and cake flour you can substitute 20oz of AP flour 

1. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add shortening. 
2. Using your hands, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
3. Add the buttermilk and milk with a spatula.
4. Dump mixture onto floured surface and knead very gently (only 4-5 times)
5. Roll dough out - you want it about 3/4 inch thick
6. Using a round cutter, cut circles out of dough and place on parchment-lined tray touching each other (this helps them rise straight up and prevents browning on the bottom edges of the biscuits)
7. Place in oven at 425 degrees for approx 15 minutes - biscuits should be golden and firm

For the sourdough starter, we simply mixed together 1 lb of bread flour with 1 pint of water. The mixture will sit (lightly covered) while the "wild" yeasts in the air go to work and a fermentation process takes place. Fermentation is the process by which yeast acts on the sugars and starches in the dough to produce carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. It is during fermentation that the dough becomes "sour". The longer it ferments, the more sour it is. 

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