Drop biscuits are heavenly. I’d forgotten.
Watching Chef Lidia Bastianich cooking on PBS fired up a long ago drop-biscuit memory. On the show, she reminisced about learning to make appetizers in her junior high school cooking class. White bread slathered with mayo, topped with sliced pimiento-stuffed olives, and rolled into a log; wrapped in cling wrap and chilled, they were cut into crosswise slices. She thought they were splendid.
I closed my eyes and remembered the joy I felt making drop biscuits, my first culinary experience in eighth grade “home ec.” The browned crisp edges of the divots and gentle peaks of the uneven tops created such appealing contrast with the soft buttery interiors.
For years I kept the recipe in a worn, blue three-ring binder. The rings never closed correctly, and they snagged the pages when attempts were made to turn the pages containing the additional recipes I added. I kept the binder throughout my school years, the times before my cooking took on a French theme.
Simple Drop Biscuits
Yield: 8 or 9 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, see cook’s notes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup whole milk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons, if needed
Cook’s notes: Often I only have salted butter on hand. If using salted butter, I use 1 1/2 teaspoons salt instead of 1 tablespoon. A pastry blender is a big help in Step 2. It’s a gizmo made of narrow metal wires attached to a handle and is used by pressing down to break butter into small pieces.
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar (I like to use a batter bowl, a large bowl with a handle — I use the bowl to my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.) Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter.
3. Stir in the milk using a fork, until just evenly moistened, adding 1 or 2 more tablespoons, if necessary (you don’t want the dough too wet). Scoop dough into 8 or 9 rough mounds (about 1/3-cup each) and place them on the prepared sheets. Bake the biscuits until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20 minutes.
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