Striving for good food in the great outdoors- the pioneer way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dutch Oven Buttermilk Biscuits- OH SO GOOD!

Biscuits in the Dutch oven are better! Up until now, our biscuit making was either out of a can, frozen, or from Bisquick. We had never really bothered to attempt to make a homemade, flaky biscuit in the Dutch oven or, for that matter, inside with our regular oven.
Well, there are all sorts of biscuit recipes out there: some with buttermilk, some with cold butter, some with oil, some with eggs, and so on. Seems like everybody has a different way of creating, what is, seemingly, a fairly simple little circle of bread. Matt’s requirement for this venture was to make these biscuits flaky. So, to the internet we went- searching for a flaky biscuit recipe.
We settled on this recipe ( since it seemed to promise “flakiness”. However, so that we wouldn’t have to make any special purchases or trips to the grocery store, we used regular all-purpose flour & regular table salt in the recipe instead of the unbleached flour & kosher salt that the recipe on this link calls for. In addition to those minor tweaks, we then had to accommodate the D.O. by winging it for the baking directions.

We used our 12” Dutch oven, and found that it was just too big. Our 12” D.O. is extra deep, so we had a hard time getting it hot enough to make the tops of the biscuits nice and golden. Next time, we will use our 10” D.O. Also, we used enough coals for 400°, but next time we are going to shoot for a 500° baking temperature to shorten the baking time and achieve a more golden appearance.

We can’t sing the praises of this recipe enough. It seems that the keys to the flakiness are the little hunks of butter left in the dough & not over-working the dough too much. If you are prepared, this recipe would be easy enough to do at the campfire too!
Below is the recipe as we made them. The next time we make them we will make the above mentioned tweaks and let you know how they turned out.

Dutch Oven Buttermilk Biscuits

1 ¾ cups flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2 cup) COLD unsalted butter
¾ cup cold buttermilk
We very lightly greased the bottom and sides of our D.O. I used just a paper towel with the littlest amount of vegetable shortening (Crisco) on it.

Now for the biscuits. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With a knife, cut the stick of butter into slices (about 20 slices on the whole stick). Throw those slices into the flour mixture and with a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture. It will look like coarse crumbs. Then add the buttermilk & stir until everything is moist. (It will be a big, lump & not necessarily all stuck together.) You will be able to see little lumps of butter in there. Leave them. That is what makes the baked biscuit flaky.

It seems to be really important not to over-work the dough, but you do need to do a little kneading. Basically, gather the dough all up into a irregular, lumpy ball and place it on a floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour on top and with your hands flatten the dough ball out. Fold it over, flatten it out again. Turn the dough 90°, fold it over, flatten it out. Repeat. You get the idea. As you do this, continue sprinkling the dough with flour (not too much) to keep it from sticking. Continue to do this until it is fairly smooth.

Now, roll the dough out (we did somewhere between ½ and ¾” thickness) and cut with a biscuit cutter or the top of a drinking glass. Set your biscuits into your D.O. Gather up the scraps, re-roll and cut more biscuits out until your dough is all gone.

While doing all this stirring, kneading, rolling, cutting business, we had coals heating up in the charcoal chimney. We strived for 400° (we used the chart from Lodge to figure out the number of coals for oven size/temp), but next time should maybe be hotter.

We placed the coals underneath in a ring around the outside- no coals in the middle and then just distributed them evenly on the top. The biscuits baked for 25-30 minutes, which we think would be shorter for a smaller D.O. and a higher temp.

Even though there are a few things we’d do differently, the biscuits turned out great- excellent flavor and flaky!

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