Currently cooking from The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I really like food that includes cornmeal. I also really like biscuits (and I’m gradually getting better at making my biscuits look more biscuity than hockey pucky). So it probably comes as no surprise that I’ve made this recipe twice in the past two weeks. The simple addition of a little bit of cornmeal elevates these biscuits from good to great.
You start out by soaking cornmeal (the recipe tells you to avoid using coarsely ground cornmeal as that will make the biscuits gritty) in buttermilk and honey to soften the cornmeal just a bit. While that soaks, you use a food processor to combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and then to cut in the butter. Once your flour resembles coarse meal, you stir it into the buttermilk mixture and mix until a rough dough forms. Finally, you briefly knead the dough until it holds together, pat it out and cut out the biscuits. The biscuits are baked in a very hot oven (start them at 450 degrees and then, after about 5 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 degrees) until they are golden brown.
The cornmeal gives these biscuits a soft, golden hue and just a bit of corn flavor. Softening the cornmeal and using a finely ground cornmeal combine to make the cornmeal disappear into the dough so that you don’t encounter any hard bits. The honey adds just a tough of sweetness and the buttermilk gives them a little tang. These are big biscuits, tall and fluffy, but quite rich from all the butter. They aren’t the least bit tough, even those biscuits that I cut out after rerolling the dough. The only thing I might change is to try using a little less butter. The recipe calls for a stick and a half of butter, and while my tastebuds love that, my hips don’t (especially since I can’t stop at just one biscuit).