Mile High Biscuits & Motherhood

At times days creep by in this very full life (especially the last weeks of summer break), yet the years seem to be flying by.  It has dawned on me lately, with my 12 year old son, that  I don’t have many more years with him in my home!!!  Dave and I are potentially nearing the end of being his primary influences.  Oh dear mercy.  This is a hard reality to face. And I can’t imagine life without him in the daily fray.  But I can’t really think about that today.
This reality has caused me to step back and consider what I haven’t yet passed on to my kids that I want to.  I have begun to pray for wisdom to know what they need from me that I can show them or teach them while they are still under my roof. 
I realized one morning when I called out, “Anyone want to make biscuits with me?” and my 10 year old yelled back, “No thanks, Mom!”, that she had never made biscuits with me and I really needed to teach her.  It would be a misstep if she were launched into the world without knowing how to make some of our favorite foods. I decided that instead of a general ask, I needed to pursue her and invite her into the secrets of biscuit making.  I told her I wanted her to come and let me teach her, because it was something I wanted her to know how to do!
She agreed to come and stand beside me and learn how to make from-scratch biscuits. As we did, I had to slow down and become more patient as she took far longer to cut the butter into pieces than my comfortable-with-a-knife-hands are.  She didn’t like the sticky mess that was part of the job.  I realized that this was perhaps one of the reason she had opted out of the task every time.  (These are good moments for life lessons- life is sometimes really messy, but it’s often worth the mess to enjoy the finished product.) She wanted to use a spoon, but I told her that I think our hands are our best tools, as they are calibrated and intuitive more than any other kitchen utensil. *(see footnote on this idea) She had to be taught that biscuits must be handled lightly and not pressed down – which is different from the sugar cookie cut outs that she is more familiar with.  I told her it’s like people.  Some people need to be handled more carefully – a truth she knows well.  I told her I would love for her to be the biscuit maker of the house.  She lit up at that suggestion.  We have talked about people’s “signature” dishes that are so fun to discover. I told her that this biscuit recipe is new to me and my favorite yet! We are never too old to learn a new trick.

I have made biscuits of many varieties through the years.  This Cheddar Biscuit is one of my favorites.  But these biscuits are even more magical because of the stacks of flaky, buttery layers. The layers are similar to the scones I love so much from The Bread Bible.  
This recipe for “Mile High Biscuits” is from In Praise of Leftovers.  (I have mentioned this blog before and posted her Blueberry Muffins on the blog that are amazing!) 
Sarah reports in her blog post that people in her life call them “Sarah’s biscuits” but she kindly encourages readers to “call them yours”.
I have told Lainey that these could be “Lainey’s biscuits” if she wanted.
They require quick and careful work but are so simple for the amazing results they yield. (Sarah actually has posted these biscuits twice- once in January 2010 and another time September 2012.  Her instructions are a little different in each as to how to handle the dough.  I recommend you try them both and then find the method that creates the best results for your altitude, oven, and hands!)
borrowed from In Praise of Leftovers
2 cups flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

8 Tbsp. (one stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup cold milk + a little more for brushing the tops
Preheat oven to 450˚
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Drop butter in and cut in with your fingertips until mixture has pea-sized lumps of cold butter all through it. Do this as quickly as possible so the butter doesn’t get too warm.  Pour the cold milk evenly over and mix quickly with a wooden spoon, forming a ball.
Let dough rest for one minute.

Now for the rolling-out part.  This is what gives the biscuits their flaky layers.
  • With a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll your ball of dough into a rectangle, about 6″ x 11″ and about 3/4″ thick- though don’t roll it too hard. 
  • Turn the rectangle around so you’re standing parallel to the long end.  Fold the short ends of the rectangle in toward the middle (like a set of french double doors).
  • Now take the folded rectangle and fold the whole thing down toward you in half.
  • Roll that dough out into a rectangle again about 3/4 inch thick. Cut biscuits.  Take scraps, do the same procedure, and cut biscuits out of that.

Place 1/2″ apart on baking sheet.  Brush lightly with milk. 

Bake until golden on top but not burned on the bottom, 10-14 minutes, checking frequently after 10 minutes.
I’m praying to be a good steward of the time I have to teach my children about life and love and God.  I find that oftentimes these moments happen in the kitchen or around the dinner table. 



* In May of 2012, I wrote the following on my blog, and it bears repeating:

In An Everlasting Meal, (which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago), the author Tamar Adler writes about using our senses to assist in cooking. She talks about using your sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing in the kitchen.  She writes, “You must taste and taste.  Taste everything and often.  Taste even if you’re scared…

Listen as though you could cook something just by hearing it…

When you touch the food you cook, you develop intelligence in your fingertips.  I cook mostly with my hands:  they’re calibrated, by now, to turn things at the right moments, to choose correct amounts of salt.”



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