One of the nice perks of publishing a blog is having the chance to "meet" all of the people who stop by to read my posts. Sometimes one of my little rambling stories (you know, the ones that seem to have absolutely nothing in common with that day's recipe) strikes a chord with a reader, inspiring them to leave a nice comment. Other times, I'll receive questions about the recipe itself, or I'll even get an occasional, and hopefully positive, report from someone who has just served it to their family.
Although I know very little about many of these people, other than their name, email, or occasional blog link, it's amazing how a few kind words from them can really make my day. When I started this blog, I figured that my dad, my mom, and possibly her bridge group would read it, so it's encouraging to know that my scope has expanded. Just the other day, I received a nice long email from a guy who had somehow stumbled upon my recipe for Creamed Onions au Gratin, which was posted way back in November. I had assumed that this recipe was lost somewhere in the blogosphere, never to be heard from again, so his comments about planning to use my recipe for his Thanksgiving dinner were a welcome surprise.....
.....but they were also a little bit stressful. I immediately thought: "Thanksgiving? People are already planning their Thanksgiving menus? I haven't even received all of my November magazine issues with glistening juicy turkeys on the covers yet! I had better get a move on, pronto." I checked my calendar and, sure enough, Thanksgiving is a mere 50 days away. Since I am making the whole shebang from scratch this year, I figured that it is time to start planning. These biscuits were an easy recipe for kicking off the kitchen marathon (my appliances get quite a workout over the next few months.) I usually like to have a few bread options for Thanksgiving--rolls, cornbread, or biscuits. These biscuits are both sweet and savory, they can be prepared well in advance, and they are also useful for making mini-turkey sandwiches with leftovers. With all of these benefits, they may just make the cut! Here are my extra tips for these festive, flaky buttermilk biscuits:
- The unbaked, pre-stamped biscuits can be frozen for up to one month. Space them apart on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer the frozen biscuits to zip-top bags. Bake the biscuits straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the cooking time.
- If you would like to add an extra layer of flavor to the biscuits, then sprinkle some flake salt on top, after brushing with the melted butter, before baking.
- As opposed to using a pastry blender or two knives, the butter can be cut into the flour mixture by pulsing a food processor. Be certain to not over-mix, or the biscuits will not be as flaky. Small pieces of butter that are left in the biscuit dough create "pockets" when they are baked, which accounts for the flaky layers.
- If you do not have buttermilk, then mix 1 teaspoon vinegar with 1 scant cup milk and let rest at room temperature for a few minutes. This will have the same effect as buttermilk.
Cranberry-Walnut Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes about 15 biscuits
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup chilled buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Cut 10 tablespoons of the chilled butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the cubes to the flour mixture and use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas.
Stir in the shallot, cranberries, walnuts, and pepper. Add the buttermilk and mix just until the dough is moistened. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick disk.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a round 2 1/4-inch cutter, stamp out biscuit rounds as closely together as possible. Gather the scraps and knead 2 or 3 times, flatten the dough, and stamp out more biscuit rounds.
Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Bake the biscuits for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the biscuits cool slightly before serving.