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There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.
Today: It's brunch season, which means only one thing -- it's time to perfect your biscuit game.
The days are growing longer, and with them, the opportunities for lazy, lingering meals -- greater. For the first time in a long time, we're waking up to the hum of a distant lawn mower instead of a snow plow, and our DVRs are getting a rest as we venture out for marathon walks instead of marathon programming.
This time of year, the simplest foods seem to taste the best: bright spring salads, veggie-packed pastas, elegantly dressed fish, and of course, light, flaky biscuits -- smothered in butter, coated in jam, or drizzled with honey. But, as good as we are at devouring them, mastering the art of biscuit making is trickier. With brunch season fast approaching, Atlanticgull asked our community for tips on making perfectly flaky biscuits from scratch -- and they delivered.
- Don't break up the butter too finely when you work it into the flour, Maedl instructs: "Just like with pie dough, small chunks of butter help make flaky layers."
- SexyLAMBCHOPx swears by substituting leaf lard in place of butter to achieve the ideal biscuit texture.
- Try using crème fraîche instead of buttermilk, says boulangere -- its higher fat content helps enhance other fragances and flavors that are incorporated into the dough.
- According to sfmiller, the wetter the better: The dough should be "so wet that it sticks easily to your hands and the board or counter, unless you flour them first. Don't use too much bench flour -- just enough to keep the dough from sticking."
- Sfmiller's last piece of advice? Check the expiration date on your baking powder, if the recipe calls for it. Leavener loses its strength over time, and you don't want to waste your breakfast on a stale box.
- When in doubt, aobenour follows Julia Child's advice: "Pat the dough out into a rectangle and give it a couple turns like you are making puff pastry. Then, I usually make a rectangle, fold it in thirds, pat it out again, fold it in thirds again, pat it out one last time, and cut my biscuits. The turns will make your biscuits flakier and rise higher."
- DrCrankyPants insists it's all about the flour. For the tenderest biscuits, use low-protein ("Southern") flour. If you can't find it, or don't want to buy it, you can reduce the protein content of regular all-purpose flour by adding some cake flour to it.
What's your trick for making perfectly flaky biscuits? Tell us in the comments!