It’s been one of those weeks. My husband and I have both been working long hours, I’m getting ready to go on another trip, and the refrigerator is pitifully bare. There is literally nothing to eat in there but eggs, yogurt and mixed baby greens. I defy the “breathy giggler,” my dad’s nickname for NPR’s Lynne Rossetto Kasper, to come up with a tasty recipe using only those ingredients.
Sure, I can probably put together a nourishing if not particularly inspiring meal of pasta or soup using things from my pantry; that’s what pantries are for. But it doesn’t seem the same without a few fresh things from the fridge to supplement. So we’ve been eating out rather more often than usual, and the results are starting to show.
The other night, I was determined to stay home for dinner despite the sad contents of our fridge. I really wanted something comforting and homey, something like bread. Of course, we had no bread, and it was already 8:00, not the best time to begin baking. But I had an epiphany of sorts. No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what your shopping habits are, if you have flour, baking powder, butter and some sort of dairy product, you can always make biscuits. And biscuits are designed to soothe the frantic soul.
Of course, these won’t be like the tender, flaky Buttermilk Biscuits that require a bit more time and care. I don’t normally keep buttermilk around the house; that ingredient requires a grocery store run. But these biscuits will definitely be good, fast and easy.
Going through my cookbooks, I came up with a chart of biscuit recipe proportions that could be made regardless of the dairy product available. I especially encourage you to make biscuits with plain yogurt, as I did this week. The results were incredibly tender and a beautiful golden brown.
Quick Homemade Biscuits
For all recipes, you will need 2 cups flour and 4 tbsp. butter.
- For 1 cup plain yogurt, use 3 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt
- For 1 cup milk, use 4 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt
- For ¾ cup half-and-half, use 3 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. sugar and ½ tsp. salt
- For 1½ cups heavy cream, use 2 tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. sugar and ¼ tsp. salt; omit the butter!
Here’s how to make the biscuits:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
- Combine the flour, baking powder and other dry ingredients in a food processor
- Cut the butter into small cubes and pulse it into the flour until it is just combined (about 10 pulses)
- Remove to a bowl and stir in the dairy until the dough forms a rough ball
- Knead the dough 10 times on a lightly floured surface
- Press out the dough into a thick rectangle and cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter or water glass (you can also make drop biscuits by dropping small balls of dough on the baking sheet)
- Arrange the biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 7-15 minutes, until they are golden brown
Notes: If you are feeling creative, try adding to the recipe. For example, make cheese biscuits by adding ½ cup grated cheese to the dough. Or use 1 cup pureed sweet potatoes in place of some of the liquid. You can also season the dough with fresh herbs or cayenne pepper.
What to serve with biscuits? For a homey meal, try Chicken & Biscuits.
Food History has provided even more variations on the biscuit, these all decidedly English-style.
Why should your dog miss out? Try this homemade dog biscuit recipe from Serve It Forth.