Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuit Testing - Butter or Shortening or Lard?

I have been baking biscuits for many years.  The ones that I love the most are the ones that I made for my boys.  Of course, they are all grown up, so I bake for my grand-kids.  There are times, for whatever reason I don't know why, the biscuits just don't come out the same.  A carton of buttermilk is only used once, then, the rest end up discarded ... despite the fact that you can use buttermilk for a few other dishes.  It's quite easy when you have a crowd, but for a single serving, it becomes challenging.  I decided to test on my biscuits using three different shortenings - lard, vegetable shortening, butter.
I really thought the lard would have tasted better but there is no "SHANG WEI" - "wonderful aroma".  It was disappointing.  I remember using the actual 'renedered' pork fat - that we saved after cooking fat pork when I was young for Chinese pastry.  The pastry tasted very nice.   I actually had never used "Lard" out of a box to bake the biscuits.   I have seen the bacon grease used to make biscuits, and I have used it by mixing it with butter chunks, etc.  It turned out quite tasty.  The biscuits made with self-rising flour is always the fluffiest, but I want to control all the ingredients, so all purpose flour is used.  To make the test production portion size small, I used the following measurements:
Preheat oven 435'F - 450'F - depending on the power of your gas oven or electric oven.


Butter Buttermilk Biscuits:
Portion:  4 to 5

1-1/2 Cup all purpose flour, shifted with the followings 3 times
1/2 Tb Double acting non-aluminum baking powder (Red or Silver can)
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp Baking soda
1/4 Cup cold butter cut into chunks
Rub the butter and flour together between thumb and fingers until they form flat flakes. 

Then, Add
1/4 Cup Buttermilk - if the flour mixture feel dry, add water a teaspoon at a time.
Tips:  The dough should feel quite moist..

Mix gently at first with spoon maybe or with hand till flour is moistened.  The dough should be shaggy and moist.  Then, mix gently in fold and layer, add bit more buttermilk, then, fold and layer motions to form a flat disc.  Roll it out with a rolling pin with gentle press or simply pat it down with floured finger tips to disc shape.
Then, cut out with biscuit cutter or with a rim of a glass cup.  Transfer to baking sheet.
If a tender side is desired, place biscuits close to each other on top of a aluminum foil.  Then, fold up the aluminum foil to make a wall.
Bake till golden brown.














Shortening Buttermilk Biscuits:
- use the same ingredients as above, but replace butter with vegetable shortening.

1/2 Cup all purpose flour, shifted with the followings 3 times
1/2 Tb Double acting non-aluminum baking powder (Red or Silver can)
1/4 tsp Kosher salt


1/4 Cup cold vegetable shortening, or room temperature
Rub the shortening and flour together between thumb and fingers until they form flat flakes. 

Then, Add
1/4 Cup Buttermilk - if the flour mixture feel dry, add water a teaspoon at a time.

Mix, form, and portion the same as above, and bake till brown.
Actually the picture below shows that the biscuits could use some more liquid.

The result - You can see the difference. 
But I am not quite convinced that my test is true.  So, I will repeat it three more times to say, the ingredients listed here will produce the same results each time.















No, I am not crazy.  I just finished baking twice the Banana Buttermilk Biscuits the other evening and plain ones.  The results?  I ate them all... do I have pictures for evidence?... I will check on it.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Bee,

    Nice to hear from you at my blog.

    I believe that shortening and lard can make pastry extra flaky and delicious but not too sure for biscuit baking. Despite all, for health reasons, I try to avoid cooking and baking with shortening and lard... or unless I die die must use them for some fantastic recipes :p

    Zoe

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  2. Hi! Zoe. For health reason, yes... I tried it out of curiosity... it did not have any "taste" is the disappointment. I remember this Chinese word my mother use - "SHAN" - "aromatic" goodness is not there. Like they processed the lard that it is a "grease" good enough to lubricate engine parts. I recall my mother's small bowl with pork fat that she saves to use... It's almost like the bacon drippings. They do give the final touch to a dish. Anyways, I am glad I didn't buy a tub or block of it now.

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  3. your blog is very informative blog Buttermilk Biscuit Testing related i very2 like

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, spectrolabs, for stopping by and for your comment.

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