Plainclothes Feast

A weekly peek at one dinner table, in the heart of one home, in the center of the country

Savory Yeast Biscuits

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In general, my kids aren’t eaters. Even things other kids love don’t get much reaction from my crew. Sugary cereal? They’re underwhelmed. Chicken nuggets? Eh. French fries? Whatev.

Okay, I should probably concede that my youngest is something of a junk-food-junkie. Left to his own devices, he’d eat macaroni and cheese and hot dogs every day. Unfortunately (from his perspective), that’s not the sort of thing I cook, so he’s typically forced to try to eat around the interesting, flavorful components on his plate in search of something bland and starchy.

The other two don’t get especially excited about much of anything I fix–junk food or otherwise. There are a few exceptions. My daughter loves her “special salsa.” My older son loves sundried tomato pasta. But mostly they eat a few bites of whatever I’ve made, say something vaguely complimentary, and then scamper off.

So, when something gets their attention, it gets my attention. This is a recipe I recently created in response to a diffuse craving on my part for some kind of quick, flaky, yeasty bread that would turn eggs into a proper dinner. Munching his way through his fourth biscuit, my 7-year-old said, “This one HAS to make the blog, Mommy!”

So, without further ado, here it is:

Savory yeast biscuits

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1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup water
2 cups flour
3/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan
1 heaping teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 cup buttermilk (OR 1 cup milk, soured with 1 tbsp vinegar added)

1. Mix the water and the yeast and let the yeast wake up and turn all frothy:

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2. In the belly of your food processor, pulse together the dry ingredients, including the cheese.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Add the butter and pulse several times to form a loose crumble. Then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the cold buttermilk and yeast-water, mixing gently, just until it holds together.

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4. Then turn it out onto your pristine countertop (or a big-dog cutting board) and knead it for just a minute, until it forms a ball. At this point, you can let it rise under a tea towel for a few minutes if you just want to. I didn’t want to, and so I didn’t.

5. Roll it out until it’s about this thick (I’ve told you, right, how bad I am with measurements? You want it biscuit-dough-thick. You know.):

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6. Then cut your biscuits out with a jelly jar or something else round and reasonably sized.

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7. Place your dough circles in a buttered 8-inch pan.

And why throw away the rest? My kids adored these weirdly shaped biscuits, which came from the dough left behind. They’re like clouds or little rorschach tests, mutating into new mythical creatures with every bite. (“Wow, Bubby, look at this 2-headed pteranodon!”)

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Let them rise under a tea towel for 30 minutes or so, if you can spare it, for super-light-and-fluffy biscuits.

8. Bake at 400 degrees until they’re golden and puffy.

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