Time for another episode of Sourdough Adventures.
One great advantage of maintaining an active wild sourdough starts is… You always have an active sourdough starter. I keep my starter on the kitchen counter and feed it every day with equal parts by weight of water and a 50/50 mix of organic stone ground wheat flour and organic unbleached stone ground white flour.
With an active starter available, I can use it for…
Today’s task: Sourdough biscuits. [cue Mission Impossible theme music]
I love biscuits. I have made buttermilk biscuits in the past and the idea of making biscuits with a natural leaven is, well, a natural.
I based these biscuits on a recipe I found in Classic Sourdoughs: A Home Baker’s Handbook, by Ed Wood and Jean Wood (2011).
I do not wish to start a row over biscuit technique. Suffice it to say, there are a few key elements of biscuitry which I have found work well for me.
Cold butter. Wee bits of butter cut into the dough help provide lift to the dough. If the butter gets too warm it will melt and you won’t get that ethereal fluffiness.
I read about an interesting technique for cutting butter into flour in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day (2009) which seemed to work well.
Reinhart’s novel technique is to freeze the block of butter, then grate the butter over the large holes of a cheese grater directly into the bowl with the dry ingredients and incorporate. The grated butter is the perfect size and the butter remains cold. Brilliant! You can also use this technique for pie crust.
Laminate. When the dough was fully incorporated and just pulled away from the bowl, I turned out the dough onto a well floured surface and gently kneaded the dough for a few turns, to help laminate the butter and flour. Lamination helps for a good rise and fluffiness.
Cutting. I cut rounds for my biscuits, there is a good argument for cutting squares or triangles as well. Cutting squares/triangles means less waste, as there are no scraps from the cutter. I worked my cuttings back together and cut again, but as this dough is worked a bit extra, the remains do not get quite as good a rise.
I used a 5cm round biscuit cutter. I have also used a glass cup. Whatever cutter you choose, make sure it is floured and make straight, decisive cuts. Twisting the cutter tends to tear the gluten and compress the layers, resulting in less fluffiness. Flat is bad. Fluffiness is good.
I spaced the biscuits close together on a baking sheet, so they would rise together and the edges would seal.
Bang the biscuits into a preheated oven (190C) for about 20-25 minutes and Bob’s your uncle!
Slather with lashings of butter, a spoonful of preserves, or a drizzle of honey, sausage gravy….