What’s Making Me Happy – January 6, 2013

Cake Flour – and baking in general

Yes, cake flour. My wife is the resident artist-chef Chez Conner-Smith, and I am the designated baker. I do alright in that role, but I have to admit I have been discouraged by my results over the past year or so. However, I had some good success over the 2012 holidays, making delicious baguettes, a rustic loaf, and chocolate cookies that knocked my wife’s socks off (no small feat that – and no pun intended).

There are a few recipes in particular that I have thus far found vexing, such as biscuits. Before today, I had yet to follow a biscuit recipe that did not result in bricks that were just barely edible. Today I discovered the secret ingredient: Cake flour.

I just needed a little less protein. The following recipe that yielded light and fluffy biscuits that melt in your mouth. Delicious.

1 1/4 C cake flour
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder 
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 C butter, chilled
3/4 C buttermilk*
1 pat of melted butter
A little extra flour for the work surface

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces or pats and put them in the processor with the dry ingredients. Pulse and mix until you have coarse crumbs.
  4. With the food processor running, pour in the buttermilk in a steady stream. Mix until you have a ball of dough, which should only take about a minute. You don’t want to work the dough too much. The dough should be nice and wet.
  5. Put the dough onto a generously floured work surface. Pat or roll the dough out until it is about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut the biscuits into the desired sizes and shapes, either using a cutter or a knife.
  6. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the biscuits on the baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven, serve, and eat!

*If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by squeezing about a teaspoon into the 3/4 C. milk.

I’m encouraged to try cake flour with popovers, and perhaps other recipes!

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