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gmagmabaking2's picture

We 3 gmas baked together

December 25, 2012 - 7:55am -- gmagmabaking2
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We 3 gmas baked Savory Drop Biscuits from "Bread Alone" , by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik... although none of us dropped them, we all shaped them because we tend to think in Sandwiches... The recipe is an easy one on page 309 of this book... onion, rosemary... sauted together and then basically added to a buttermilk biscuit dough... very, very good.

mamatkamal's picture
mamatkamal

 Since I was young I've always been intrigued by these sesame/honey cookies, called in Morocco "Chebakia", not only for their beautiful flower shape but also because they are surprisingly delicious sweet treats and I love all the flavours in them!  Chebakia is one of the luxurious, tasteful, traditional and special occasion sweet, served without fail on Moroccan Ramadan table with Harira on Ftour (Iftar) meal.  However; in some regions in Morocco, chebakia is also served at wedding ceremonies and other special feasts.  Traditionally, few days before Ramadan, the whole family usually gets together to make large numbers of these cookies, which are customarily shaped like a rose, symbolizing "Respect and Love".  

Because of chebakia popularity and its cultural significance in Morocco, this has made these sesame/honey cookies synonymous with Ramadan. In fact, no Moroccan Ramadan is complete without chebakia, which can be bought almost anywhere in the street.  My Mother taught me how to make chabakiya when I was a kid, and I remember she used to talk about how tricky making those cookies were, and how her chebakia  would never taste like her mother's even if she used to make the best chabakiya I've ever tasted!  So last weekend, I decided to make those little cookies, and they brought me back as little kid again. They made me think of my mother and where I come from.  When I prepare chebakia, I always have those wonderful memories, and so will my lovely boys, one day! 

Chabakiya or Chbakia [S H A B A K E E Y A}  = الشّباكيّة, (also spelled Chebbakiya and Shebakia) is a general term for Moroccan traditional sweet sort of fried flower dessert, and which was originally considered as a confectionery Halwa [H A L W A} =حْلْوَة, which means "Cake" because of its sweet taste and flower crispy biscuit shape. It will sound odd for some of my blog followers; "A fried cookie? Come on, really?". Yes, indeed, it is a fried, chewy and sticky cookie that, strangely enough, goes so well with HariraBUT NOT tea or coffee! The sweetness of Chabakiya is intended to offset the sour yet soft, touch of the national soup, called Harira. Give me one chebakia and a bowl of Harira any day, any time and I’d be a happy woman! . 

Chabakiya is made with ingredients, very common in Moroccan Cuisine, such as sesame seeds, almonds, aniseeds, cinnamon, gum arabic, orange flower water, honey, yeast etc.... The dough is made by kneading wheat or white flour or mixture of both, with all the ingredients and mixed together, then flattened and cut into squares using a special Chebakia mold to cut the dough, then fried in oil and submerged in sweet honey syrup (usually orange flower water flavoured).   The result is a declicious, sticky, sweet and slightly chewy cookie  that looks like flower almost, and that tastes a little bit like a spicy, crispy, savory Fekkas, and a little bit like a hot glazed, sweet Almond/Honey Breewat. Both the flavour combination and the texture of chabakiya is amazing! 

Chabakiya is a little time-consuming but well worth the effort. It's also endlessly adaptable, substitute more modern ingredients for different flavours, use corn or ginger or orange syrup instead of honey, so chabakiya is more sticky and shiny. If you don't like sesame seeds or almonds,  replace them  for hazelnuts or pine nuts or peanuts or pistachio or linseeds etc....  which will change the flavour quite a bit, but they will taste great!  Don’t be intimidated by shaping technique of chabakiya, it is quite easy to make, and in fact you can create any shape you like! When making chabakiya, make sure not to overwork the dough (generally, 7 to 10 minutes seems reasonable).  This detail is very important, since gluten development, resulting from overworking the Chabakia dough, will make it tough when cooked. It is also important to maintain the temperature of the frying oil because if the temperature is too high or if you overcook them, chabakiya will be too hard and if the temperature is too low, or you undercook them, the resulting chabakiya will be too pale, very greasy and unappealing.  Note that chebakia will continue to colour slightly a few minutes after removed from the oil, so you will need to be careful when removing them. 

N.B.:

1-In Fes and some other regions as Rabat, Salé etc.., this same chabakiya is called Mkhar9a (also spelled Mkharqua or Mkharka = المْخَرْقَة ).

2-Whereas in Wajda (Oujda - East of Morocco) and also some parts in Fes, it is called Griwech or Griwesh or Griwchat =كريوْشْ 

3-In Agadir (South of Morocco), they have a special version of Chabakiya, called Bouchnikha = بوشْنيخَة ou Chebakiya Khyout (5yout) = الشّْبّاكيّة خْيُوطْ .

Below shows the photo of Bouchnikha, Agadir's version of Chabakia, by  Meriya (CLICK HERE FOR MERIYA'S BLOG)

4-There are several different shapes of chabakiya, the most popular one is Chabakiya Blighat or Baboush = الشّْبّاكِيّة بْليغاتْ, which has the shape of the hand-made leather shoes called in Morocco Babouche =  بَبُوشْ or Balgha (Balra) = بْلْغَة.

Below shows the photo of Chebakiya Blighat by Meriya (CLICK HERE FOR MERIYA'S BLOG)

5-There is a different type of Chebakia called " "Halwa Mja3ba" = الحلوة المجعبة. This is a very popular traditional type of Chebakia, and curiously enough, it is prepared by men only.  The dough needs very slow rising time for 17 to 24 hours, and requires a lot of practice and patience to achieve success. There is a video here by Moroccan Chef Cook Choumicha which shows how to make Halwa Mja3ba. I took the picture below of "Halwa Mja3ba" from this Cuisine Site!

I'm submitting this post to Susan's Yeastspottinga blog devoted to yeast bread.  Please check it out!

  Rosebud Chebakia / Chebakia sous forme de rose:

 

 

Ingredients for Chebakia dough : / Ingredients pour la pâte de Chabbakia:

-1 kg flour (I used strong white bread flour), sifted / 1 kg de farine tamisée (J'ai mis la farine forte blanche, je crois c'est ce qu'ils appellent en France "Farine T55", mais je ne suis pas certaine)

-200 gr brown sesame seeds / 200 gr de graines de sésame brunes

-2 tablespoons anise seeds / 2 c à soupe de graines d'anis

-2 cloves / 2 clous de girofle

-1/2 teaspoon salt / 1/2 c à thé ou à café de sel

-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon / 2 c à soupe de cannelle moulu

-200 gr blanched almonds / 200 gr d'amandes blanchies

 -60 ml white vinegar / 60 ml de vinaigre blanc

 -1/2 teaspoon saffron threads  / 1/2 c à thé ou à café de pistils de safran 

 -Few small grains of gum arabic / Quelques graines de gomme arabique 

-100 ml pure olive oil / 100 ml d'huile d'olive de bonne qualité

-1 egg / 1 oeuf

-1 egg white / 1 blanc d'oeuf

-100 ml melted butter / 100 ml de beurre fondu

-180 ml orange blossom water (use good quality) / 180 ml d'eau de fleur d'oranger de bonne qualité

-You will need about 60 ml warm water, depending on your flour quality.  Add more if you need to./ Vous aurez besoin d'environ 60 ml d'eau tiède. Il faut prendre en considération la qualité de votre farine, ajouter plus d'eau si nécessaire.

N.B. If necessary, use this water to dilute the yeast with pinch of sugar, cover and allow to rest for a few minutes. / Si  nécessaire, utiliser cette eau pour diluer la levure avec un tout petit peu de sucre, puis couvrir et laisser reposer quelques minutes.

-1 teaspoon baking powder (About 5 ml) / 1 c à thé ou à café (Environ 5 ml) de levure chimique ou patissière ou la poudre à pâte

-1/2 teaspoon (About 2.5 ml) yeast / 1/2 c à thé ou à café (Environ 2.5 ml) de levure boulangère

N.B. : I used instant dry yeast, but you might use fresh or active dry yeast as well.  /  J'ai mis la levure instantanée mais vous pouvez aussi utiliser d'autres types de levure soit fraîche ou sèche active.

 

 Sweet Honey Syrup: / Mélange de Miel :

-1.5 kg best-quality honey / 1.5 kg de miel de bonne qualité 

-2 tablespoons orange flower water / d'eau de fleur d'oranger

-Pinch of gum arabic / Une pincée de gomme arabique

-1 cinnamon stick / 1 bâton de cannelle


 For Frying Chebakia : / Faire frire le Chebakia:

-1.5 liters vegetable oil / 1.5 litres de l'huile végétale

  

Other/Autre Ingredient:

-About 100 gr golden sesame seeds, toasted, for decorating / Environ 100 gr de graines de sésame brunes pour la touche finale

  

Prepare the Chebakia dough: / Préparer la pâte de Chabbakia:

1-You have to plan ahead on this recipe, to get the sesame seeds, washed, dried and available.  Wash out the dirt and mud. Drain the seeds and let them dry in the sun, placing them on a large baking pan. This will take 1 to 2 days to dry them.  When dry, remove any small stones from brown natural sesame seeds. / Préparer les graines de sésame avant de commencer la préparation de Sellou.  Laver les graines de sésames et laisser sécher  naturellement au soleil, ceci peut prendre 1 jusqu'à 2 jours.  Puis enlever les mauvaises graines et faire attention si jamais il y a des petites pierres noires.

2-Toast sesame seeds in a small pan over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring or shaking the pan constantly.  Allow to cool. /Faire dorer les graines de sésame à la poêle en remuant sans arrêt. Laisser refroidir.

3-Grind sesame seeds into fine powder. / Faire moudre les graines de sesame au moulin jusqu'à obtention d'une poudre bine fine.

4-Toast the blanched almonds either in the oven or in a heavy, ungreased skillet or pan until golden, stirring every few minutes otherwise they will burn. / Dans une poêle ou au four, faire revenir les amandes blanchies qu'on brasse fréquemment jusqu'à coloration.

5-Grind almonds into fine powder. / Faire moudre les amandes au moulin jusqu'à obtention d'une poudre bine fine.

6-In a large bowl, place ground sesame and almond with the flour and all other dry ingredients, then add the remaining ingredients and mix well to form a stiff dough.  Knead the dough with hands for about 10 minutes. / Dans un grand bol, mélanger les graines de sésame et amandes moulues, puis ajouter tous les ingrédients secs, bien mélanger le tout, ensuite ajouter le reste d'ingrédients en formant une pâte assez ferme. Surtout la pâte ne doit être collante.  Pétrir à la main pendant 10 minutes environ.

7-Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap to let it rest for about 30 minutes./Couvrir avec un film alimentaire ou un torchon propre puis laisser reposer pendant environ 30 minutes.

8-Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap./ Couper la pâte en 6 boules égales et couvrir chaque boule avec un film alimentaire. 

Shaping Chebakia : / Façonnage de Chabbakiya:

1-You don't need to flour your work surface to roll out the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out each part into a very thin rectangle. / Au rouleau pâtisserie, étaler chaque boule en un grand rectangle très mince.  Pas besoin de fariner le plan de travail car si la pâte est bien faite, elle n'est pas supposée de coller.

 2-Use Chebakia cutter to form squares, which should have five (5) strips each. / Avec un emporte pièce de chabbakiya, couper des carrés qui doivent avoir cinq (5) lanières chacun.

 

  3-But, if you don't have a special mold for Chebakia, simply cut the the thin dough into small squares, measuring about 8 cm on all sides. Then using pastry wheel with fluted edge, make four (4) evenly spaced cuts lengthwise in each square, but not cutting through to the edges of the square. / Mais, si vous n'avez pas un emporte pièce de chabbakiya, utiliser tout simplement une roulette dentelée, puis couper des petits carrés dont les côtés mesurent environ 8 cm, puis faire 4 longues incisions parallèles à l'intérieur de chaque carré, mais sans arriver jusqu'au bord. 

 4-Now you will have little squares with five (5) strips each. / Vous aurez des petits carrés, ayant cinq (5) lanières chacun. 

5-This is Nassim's technique to fold Chebakia, very easy and clever! He inserts a straw into the square, making sure that the strips number: 1, 3 and 5 are on top of the straw, whereas strips number: 2 and 4 are under the straw. /  Ici, je vous montre une technique de mon fils Nassim, mon petit chou de 9 ans, pour façonner le Chebakia que je trouve toute simple mais efficace et bien pensée. Il insère une paille à l'interieur du carré, en veillant à ce que les lanières numéro: 1, 3 et 5 soient au-dessus de la paille, tandis que les lanières numéro: 2 et 4 soient sous la paille.

 6-He takes the straw and allows the strips of dough to slide down. He removes the straw, then, using his little fingers, turns the dough inside out. / Il prend la paille vers le haut, en laissant glisser les lanières sur un plan de travail, puis il retire la paille.  Ensuite, il travaille avec ses petits doigts pour faire sortir la fleur vert le haut.

 7-Then, he gently pinches both the opposite corners to seal the flower Chebakia, and that's it! / Puis, délicatement il attache les 2 coins ensemble pour bien sceller la rose, et c'est tout!

 8-Repeat the process with the remaining squares and the covered dough. /  Faire pareil avec le reste de carrés et la pâte recouverte du film alimentaire.

N.B. As you can see the shaping of Chebakia is not the same on the photo below, it's normal, since some were made by my lovely boys, some by my husband and others by our friend and myself.  But they all look beautiful. /Comme vous pouvez remarquer le façonnage sur la photo ci-dessous, est différent, puisque quelques uns ont été faits par mes adorables enfants, les autres par mon mari, notre amie, et moi-même, mais l'important qu'ils sont tous beaux!

And here are some well-detailed photos how to shape Chebakia by the food writer Christine-Amina Benlafquih CLICK HERE / Voici aussi des photos comment façonner Chebakiya Marocaine, et que je trouve vraiment bien faites par Christine-Amina Benlafquihl'experte américaine en cuisine Marocaine, CLIQUEZ ICI

 

Prepare the honey syrup : Préparer le  sirop au miel:

-Heat the honey for a few minutes, it should be warm but not bubbling. Then add  to honey the orange flower water, gum arabic and cinnamon stick and turn off the heat. / Chauffer le miel pendant quelques minutes, attention ne laisser pas bouillir.  Puis ajouter l'eau de fleur d'oranger, gomme pilées et cannelle et mélanger le miel.  Retirer du feu.

 Cooking Chebakia / Faire cuire Chabbakiya:

1-In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil over moderate heat. / Sur un feu moyen, faire chauffer l'huile dans une poêle à frire ou autres. 

N.B . Before starting to fry Chebakia, test the temperature by dropping a small piece of carrot into the oil; if it floats and quickly starts to brown, then you can start frying.  It is very important to make sure the oil is hot enough before frying because if the temperature is too low, the resulting product is very greasy and unappealing. To keep the oil temperature constant while frying, fry only a few Chebakia at a time. / Avant de commencer à faire frire le Chebakia, vérifier la température de l’huile de friture, en jetant dans l'huile un morceau de carotte, et s’il dore et remonte à la surface, alors vous avez le feu vert pour commencer.  Surtout n'essayez pas d'aller plus vite en mettant trop de Chabakiya en même temps dans la poêle à frire car si il y en a trop, ils vont abaisser la température de friture, ainsi vos Chabbakias absorberont beaucoup de gras et goûteront l'huile.

2-When the oil is hot, then reduce a little bit the heat, and add Chebakia, only a few at a time, and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, on both sides or until brown. Add more cold oil, if necessary, and allow a couple of minutes to return to perfect frying temperature, then continue cooking Chebakia. / Dés que l'huile est bien chaude, baisser immédiatement un peu la température.  Faire frire seulement quelques Chebakia à  la fois pour 4 à 5 minutes de chaque côté ou jusqu'à ce qu'elles soient bien dorées et gonflées.  Ajouter plus d'huile froide si nécessaire et attendre quelques minutes jusqu'à que l'huile se réchauffe et continuer à cuire le reste des Chabbakiyas de la même façon.

 Soaking the Chebakia in Honey Mixture: / Faire tremper Chebakia dans le mélange du miel:

 1-Drain and put Chebakia in the hot honey, then gently push down to submerge them in the honey. Allow to soak for 10 to 15 minutes./ Bien les égoutter, puis plonger-les dans le miel chaud, sans les entasser. Laisser le Chebakia trempée dans le miel  de 10 à 15 minutes.

 2-Remove the chebakia from the honey and sprinkle slightly with toasted sesame seeds or with almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted. Serve with Harira, Enjoy and Happy Ramadan! / Retirer et égoutter. Saupoudrer Chebakiya de graines de sésames grillées ou amandes grillées et hachées grossièrement. Servir avec du Harira et Bssaha w Raha et Mabrouk 3likom Ramdan!

How to shape Rosebud Chebakia / Façonnage de Chebakia sous forme de rose:

 1-Using a rolling pin, flatten the Chabakia dough into a very thin circle. Use the circular cookie cutter or a small glass or others to cut smaller circles out on the large circle. / Utiliser un rouleau à pâtisserie, puis aplatir une boule de pâte de Chabbakia sous forme d'un cerle très mince, ensuite couper des petites rondelles avec un emporte-pièce rond.

 2-Arrange the six (6) small circles, half stacking on top of each other. With your fingers, press the edges of the circles to make them thiner./ Placer les six (6) petits cercles en rang sur une seule ligne, de telle sorte que chaque cercle doit cacher la moitié du cercle à côté. Aplatir un peu les bords des cercles avec vos doigts.

3-Place the stuffing on top of the second circle (Roasted or fried almond or almond paste or date paste  or fig paste etc...). / Placer votre farce sur le deuxième cercle (qui peut être soit amandes roties ou  pâte de dattes ou d'amandes ou de figues etc... )

4-Start rolling from the first circle, the one near the stuffing. / Commencer à rouler à partir du premier cercle, celui qui est près de la farce.

 

 5-Press the dough gently in the centre to help open the rose./ Délicatment, appuyer sur le milieu de la pâte pour faire ouvrir la rose.

6-To open the rose, you must force the bud open by a straw or your fingers or other tools, continue pressing the petals to separate them from the bud, and until all the petals are open and full. Don't be overly gentle during this process!/ Utilisez une paile ou vos doigts ou autres outils pour ouvrir les pétales de la rose et les separer du coeur. N'accordez pas beaucoup d'importance aux petits details.

 

  

jlach's picture

Biscuit Help

July 11, 2012 - 8:12pm -- jlach
Forums: 

I've been trying to make the perfect biscuits for months now. The picture with the jalapeno biscuits is from about a month ago. I had it down. They were perfect, even the plain buttermilk. Now, I can't, for the life of me, recreate them. The other pictures are of what mine keep coming out like now. I have no clue what's going on. I've bought all new ingredients, and am even weighing them for the recipe. 

 

Here's the recipe I was using:

2.25 C SR Flour

1/2 C Butter

1.75 C Buttermilk

evolver's picture

Pretzel tasting biscuits

November 27, 2011 - 1:04pm -- evolver
Forums: 

Greetings everyone!

I joined this forum becuase I have found a love and respect for baking. I've always cooked but never baked. Maybe becuase I see cooking as an art and baking as a science....btw: I'm not that scientific.

I've been having a bit of trouble with a vegan recipe that I found for making vegan "buttermilk biscuits". My batches have been coming out very inconsistent lately. I would like to make a big batch but I'm very hesitant because I don't want to end up making30 biscuits that taste like pretzels.

Here's the recipe:

1 c flour

loydb's picture
loydb

I've been disappointed that all the sourdough biscuit recipes I found included baking powder. A search here, however, revealed David's attempts at an all-sourdough version (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21967/sourdough-biscuits-trying-real-thing-take-2).

I keep 8-10 oz of starter at 100% hydration in small quarter containers in the fridge. Yesterday it had been 7 days since I fed my King Arthur New England starter. I divided into a 3 oz portion and a 5 oz portion. Both were fed 1:1:1, and left on the counter. After 5 hours, the 3 oz batch (now 9 oz) was returned to the fridge. I left the 15 oz batch on the counter overnight in a larger container. It was bubbling wildly this morning. I followed David's recipe with the following alterations:

1) All butter. I had no lard (rectified that at the grocery this afternoon, I'll try again with 50/50 lard/butter). I used a food processor to mix the chilled butter with the AP flour (KA bread flour in this instance), sugar and salt. I hand mixed in the starter, and just barely got it to hold together as per David's advice. After a 45 minute rest, I did the 4x stretch/fold/roll.

2) Nearly a 5-hour proof. They hadn't risen enough after 2.5 hours, so I went to the grocery store. When I came home, they were nearly doubled, and got to sit another 45 minutes while the oven warmed.

3) 19 minutes @ 425 versus 15 mins.

 The biscuits are light, and perfectly sour with just a little butter (also great with honey). We'll be having them with spiral ham and Tillamook cheddar tonight.

 

whosinthekitchen's picture
whosinthekitchen

I began a rye and pineapple juice starter this week.  When Igot to day 5 and needed to split the starter, I just couldn't throw any away.  The culture has a fruity aroma and a good bit of rise action.  Not wanting pancakes, I decided to make sourdough biscuits.  The result was a two and a half inch rise from oven spring, a tosty crunch for the bottom with a tender crumb inside.  Appealing to the eye? Yes.  The aroma in the house, divine.  The real tell, of course, is in the taste. And the Mr. was pleased.  A hint of the sourdough with a bit of a nutty-ishness (from the rye in the build?), the biscuits were a hit.

Sour Dough Biscuits from www.sarah's-musingsblogspot.com

2  1/2  cups flour

1/3 cup lard (I used butter)

1/2  t  salt

2 t  baking powder

1/2  t baking soda

1 cup stqarter

1 cup milk

Directions:  I mixed the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter.

I added this to the starter and did a rough stir to start.  Then I added the milk.  I used a fold type stir action to incorprate the milk into the rest just until all was mixed.  I turned the sticky dough out onto the foured board for a light dusting of flour and a three fold action.  I repeated this as the dough was quite sticky.  I patted the dough to about an inch thickness and cut.  I placed biscuits in a greased pan, brushed the tops with butter and allowed them to rise for about 45 minutes.  I baked them for 25 minutes in a 350 oven.  

So, don't throw out that starter!  Bake a batch of biscuits instead!

The next bake with the starter will be No Knead Scilian Bread by Ed P.  Recipe and results are hared on breadtopia.com

Bake Away,

whosinthekitchen

 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Single-acting baking powder first hit the marketplace in the mid-1850's. The Gold Rush was still rushing, and John Chisum's cattle drives were at their peak, repleat with chuck wagon and cook--always called "Cookie" regardless his origins. Sourdough was a critical supply (ref.: http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/Contents-Of-A-Chuck-Wagon-Cooking-Supply-List/1621894 ) Baking powder isn't mentioned.  Double acting baking powder, began replacing single-acting in the early 1890's, just in time for the Yukon Gold Rush.


So why don't we hear stories about the buckaroo that rode three days straight to the nearest town, crossing miles of desert, evading irate Indians, or roaming banditos just to replace Cookie's Rumford Baking Powder, 'cause he forgot to pack extree? How come we don't quote Robert Service's poem about the cook who was "strung up" by his fellow miners, when he forgot to pack 10 lbs. of baking powder in their supplies? (ref.: http://www.questconnect.org/ak_chilkoot_supplies.htm )


We don't. But our history of rough times and places is peppered with sourdough stories. My favorite is about the frozen miner's corpse found curled around his starter. The miners that found him quickly baked up a batch of Dutch Oven biscuits to make sure his starter hadn't shared his fate. While they sipped coffee, and munched biscuits, the conversation at last got around to what to do with the body. (OK, I just made that up.)


Yesterday, I dutifully fed my starters their weekly ration. I had about 200g of discard starter. The night before, I'd watched True Grit (the real one, with John Wayne) so I was in the mood for some real sourdugh biscuits. As ever, I googled recipes.


Much to my disappointment the first half-a-million recipes I scanned all called for baking powder--from a tsp. to 2 Tbls. Sourdough starter seemed to be almost an afterthought.--1/4 cup to 2 cups. None of them required refreshing. Just stir the starter in, and rely on the baking powder to puff them up. In the second half-a-million recipes--ain't Google grand?--I found one recipe wherein baking powder was optional, but recommended it if you didn't want to wait.


Here's what I did.


Ingredients:


356g (12.5 oz.; 2 cups) sourdough starter; 100% hydration; refreshed 12 hours earlier, and left to develop at 76°F


76g (2.7 oz.; 1/3 cup) 50/50 mixture butter and lard (yep, lard: probably Cookie's first (only?) choice). Cut in to 1/2" cubes and chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes


300g (10.6 oz; 2-1/2 cups) AP flour


14g (1 tbls) sugar


7g (1 tsp) salt


I mixed the flour, sugar, salt, and butter/lard cubes together with my hand, squeezing the fat cubes between my thumb and fingers until they were all flattened and well coated with flour. I added the sourdough starter, mixed it in, and kneaded the dough in the bowl, until it formed a ball. The dough felt a little dry, but I didn't add any additional liquid.


I rested the dough, covered and chilled in the refrigerator,  for 15 minutes.


I turned the ball out onto an unfloured dough board, and rolled it to about 1 inch thick, folded the dough in half, and rolled it out again. I repeated this about six times. Each time I rolled it out the dough got more flexible, and felt less dry. I was glad I hadn't added additonal liquid.


On the final roll-out I went to 1/2 inch thick, cut out 17, 2-1/4" biscuits, arranged them on a Silpat pad lined half-sheet pan, covered them with a dry tea towel, and returned them to the proofing box (76°F).


They proofed for 2 and 1/2 hours. They had expanded, but not doubled.


Baked in a 400°F oven for 14 minutes (light golden brown). They more than doubled with oven spring. Lifting the first one to the cooling rack I knew, from its light feel, I had a success.


The crumb is closed, but not dense; looks like most other baking powder biscuits I've made. However, flavor-wise it is definately sourdough! I ate one cold, with nothing added this AM. Firm mouthfeel, and a lovely tang in the after taste.


I think I overworked the dough a little. Next time--and there will be a next time--I'll only roll them out three or four folds. I will also up the temp to 425°F, and bake them on my baking stone.



I think this is more like what Cookie baked.


David G


 


 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink


Yes, that's right... baking powder. I'll bet you've never given it much thought before. I know I hadn't. I mean, I know there are basically two kinds---aluminum-based (I call that "regular") and aluminum-free, right? I assumed all aluminum-based baking powders were pretty much the same, and all non-aluminum powders the same. But it turns out that I was wrong on both counts. My recent foray into biscuit-making and quest for cloud-like loftiness, inspired me to do a little informal research into the science of chemical leavening.


It all started with the Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits I baked one night to go with a big pot of homemade vegetable beef stew. I was still on the hunt for a biscuit recipe that I could be happy with, so I turned to the mini library of Cooks Illustrated hard-bound annuals housed in my living room bookcase. CI has several biscuit recipes to choose from, but since I had never laminated them before, I thought the flaky type might be worth a shot.


The only real decision to make was which baking powder to use. Being an avid baker, I keep a selection in my pantry---aluminum-based for when a strong rise really counts, and aluminum-free for when the taste would otherwise overpower. I decided on Clabber Girl, because I can't really remember what's in the glass jar. I think it is Bakewell Cream Baking Powder, which would have been a good choice, except that has a relatively short shelf life and its age is questionable. Rumford is my favorite for cakes, but not much else. So, Clabber Girl it was.


I was both thrilled and impressed with the recipe, for its high rise and many layers. But I was disappointed in the flavor, which closely resembled "biscuits-in-a-can." In other words, a very strong baking powder taste, owing of course, to the full tablespoon of baking powder called for in the recipe. I thought, no problem, I'll just use half Clabber Girl and half Rumford next time. I do that for some things, to get the best of both. But the rise was only mediocre by comparison. Rumford is aluminum-free and gives me great results in butter cakes, but it seems to fizzle too soon in some of my quickbreads, and wears itself out in the mixing bowl---especially when buttermilk is in the mix.


Left: Clabber Girl
Right: Rumford-Clabber Girl combo



At this point, I started wondering about (Original) Bakewell Cream, which is billed in The Baker's Catalog as the "secret ingredient" for biscuits. I checked around a bit on the Internet, and it does indeed receive very high marks by the New England biscuit makers in its limited distribution area. If this is really THE biscuit leavener, then really... don't I need to try it? So, I bit the bullet and placed an order.


While waiting for the Bakewell Cream to arrive, I turned my attention to Calumet. This is the one I grew up with. Once widely available, it is getting harder and harder to find around here. I searched four stores before finally scoring myself some. It gave my biscuits better flavor than the Clabber Girl, but the rise was not much better than the half-and-half Clabber Girl-Rumford combination. Perhaps that's a clue as to its formulation.


But the exciting thing was, that while on my mission to find Calumet, I stumbled upon a new baking powder. Well, it's new around here anyway, and I had never seen or heard of it before (plus, it says "New!" right on the label). I'm talking about Argo Baking Powder; have you seen it? Yep, it's the same people who make the cornstarch. What's so exciting about this baking powder, is that it has the same active ingredient as the Bakewell Cream, and unlike Rumford, it is a true double-acting, aluminum-free baking powder.


What does that mean? What makes all these baking powders different, you're wondering? Well, the basic equation is the same for all: baking soda + acid = lift. In the presence of moisture, baking soda reacts chemically with the acid, and CO2 bubbles released in the process make a batter or dough rise. Baking soda is the constant, but there are an array of acids to choose from, which can be sorted into two distinct categories---fast-acting, and slow-acting.


Fast-acting are acids that work at room temperature. They react in the mixing bowl when dry and liquid ingredients are combined, to give "bench rise." A good example is cream of tartar, which was used in the first commercial baking powders, and is still used in homemade preparations. The fast-acting acid ingredient preferred in commercial baking powders today is monocalcium phosphate (MCP).


Slow-acting acids don't react right away. They require heat to get going, and don't start reacting until the batter or dough reaches at least 120 degrees F. This is called "oven rise." Slow-acting acids include: sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP) and sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP).


A baking powder is said to be single-acting if it contains only one acid. If the acid is fast-acting, then the baker will need to get the batter mixed and into the oven very quickly---before it loses its bubbles or it won't bake as high. A double-acting baking powder includes both fast- and slow-acting acids. These are designed to create carbon dioxide gas more slowly, and over a longer period of time. Some bench rise during mixing is advantageous in creating bubble structure, for things like butter cakes, pancakes and waffles. However, a strong oven rise appears to be more important for things like biscuits and cornbread.


Here is a breakdown of the baking powders I tested, and a couple others that aren't available to me locally:


If you've stuck with me this far, you probably want to know how the Bakewell Cream measured up against Argo and the rest of the powders. I have to say that Bakewell Cream's lift rivaled that of Clabber Girl, but the flavor was a whole lot better. You have to combine Bakewell Cream---which is just an acid---with your own baking soda, to create the baking powder effect. Some may find the extra measuring a nuisance, but the advantage is that, unmixed, it keeps indefinitely. Baking powders, on the other hand, have a limited shelf life of about a year.


The Argo biscuits baked up just as light as the Bakewell Cream, so I almost had to declare this one a tie. But Argo eked out the win based on flavor (and the fact that I don't have to mail-order it---not that I wouldn't for something that is truly better). The flavor thing was such a close call, though. I really thought they would taste the same, and had I not had the opportunity to have them side-by-side, I wouldn't have noticed the very slight difference. That's how close it was. So for the lightest, best-tasting biscuits, I would say, opt for something with sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) in the ingredient list. If there is a secret ingredient, that would be it.   -Debra Wink


Left: Argo biscuits, baking
Right: Bakewell Cream biscuits, cooling


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