Monday, October 18th, 2010
I’m a Southern-raised girl who, until recently, had never made biscuits. I’ve certainly eaten my fair share, but I’d never made them and upon realizing this felt sort of ashamed, like I might need to turn in my flannel shirt or something. And I really love flannel.
And following this apparent need to channel my inner Southerner, I’ve learned that I kind of love making jam. Kind of a lot. I have a lot of jam on hand these days. Would you like some?
If these two tasks seem a bit daunting and better left store-bought, fear no more my friends. They’re super simple. They’re also a good use for all of those fat, lovely figs sitting around your local market these days. I didn’t know what to do with them either.
Pie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High Altitudes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cold, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk*
3 tablespoons milk (any sort)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend in with a fork or pastry blender, or pulse until it’s the size of small peas. If using the processor, dump the pulsed mixture into a large bowl.
Add buttermilk and stir it in with a fork until it just clings together. Don’t overmix!
Lightly flour the counter, turn out the dough, and knead it a couple of times just to bring it together; it should still feel quite sticky. Pat the dough into a rough 6 x 8-inch rectangle about 3/4 inch thick. With a floured bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 squares.
With a floured spatula or your fingers, lift each biscuit and set it on the cookie sheet. To get the highest rise, the biscuits should touch one another; for crisper edges but slightly less rise, set them a bit apart. With a pastry brush, lightly glaze the biscuit tops with milk.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the biscuits are well risen and golden brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
Serve the biscuits warm with butter. (They can be reheated in a 300°F oven for about 5 minutes.)
High-Altitude Notes (5,000 feet): Reduce baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons and baking soda to 1/4 teaspoon; bake at 450°F for 15 to 17 minutes.
*Admittedly, I substituted about a teaspoon less than a cup of skim milk with about a teaspoon of lemon juice to sour it. I know; biscuit heresy. They still tasted great!
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 2 cups jam
2 cups quartered Black Mission figs
2 nectarines, pitted and quartered
3/4 cup brown or turbinado sugar
1/8 cup lime juice
pinch ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Pour into heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer 35 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight.