Friday, November 13, 2009

Why practice is important....oh, and 2 bread recipes

Well, I haven't had that much to write about lately--still working on stocking up and actually just storing what we have properly. Except for the fact that I have been trying to increase my number of food-storage-friendly recipes, and have been concentrating on bread recipes--the mostly flour, oil, salt, etc. variety. I have had mixed results....

So, good news first--I found a "keeper" recipe for fried bread here. Highlights:

--After adjusting the temperature of the oil, the bread just got prettier and prettier--the final pieces were something to behold.... :)

--Even the more "well-done" pieces were readily eaten....

---There were varied levels of enthusiasm, but there were no left-overs, and an agreement that the recipe should be repeated in the future. (Granted, I would not make this too often, but I do think that in the midst of appetite fatigue this might be a welcome exception to the menu....It requires quite a bit of oil, as well as not being at the top of my "most healthy foods" list. But it does taste oh-so-good... :)

Um, yeah, so on to the second bread recipe, which made me realize (again) how vital it can be to try a recipe before an emergency strikes...

I found the following recipe in a family recipe collection, and we got it from a family friend, E.W., many years ago. I don't know if E.W. originally got it somewhere else, but E.W. is our source, so E.W. gets the credit here:

Angel Biscuits

5 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
2 tbsp water
2 cups buttermilk
1 package dry yeast

Sift together flour, sugar, soda, salt, and baking powder. Cut shortening into dry ingredients. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add with the buttermilk to the flour. Mix well. Turn out on a floured board. Roll 1/4 inch thick. Cut out. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Ah, pretty straight forward. Except, although I added the phrase, Cut shortening into dry ingredients for your benefit and recipe convenience, it is not included on the recipe card copied into our recipe book. Nowhere to be found. So, I had done everything else, ( I used milk with a tbsp. of lemon juice per cup to substitute for the buttermilk) when right before I was going to turn out the dough onto a floured surface, something in my brain clicked, and I thought, "Didn't it say something about shortening?"

Why, yes. Yes, it did. And I did enough baking when I was a kid (nigh these many years ago :) that my next thought was that I probably should have cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. And here I stood with the sticky mound of dough in my mixing bowl, and cutting anything into it didn't look too promising. A cup of shortening with nowhere to go--my thoughts were that little pockets of shortening would show up in the biscuits like chocolate chips, if I proceeded at all.

The most dominant thought, though, was: "5 cups of flour! I just wasted 5 cups of flour!" So I decided to call my best source (Mom) to see if this little adventure was in any way salvageable. My first inclination was to say no, but there were still enough echoes of "5 cups of flour!!" to make it worth my while to find out.

Except, my best source was not available for comment. By home or cell phone. At least not at first. By about the fourth attempt, contact was made. And she suggested that I try to add the shortening now and see how it worked out. She also pointed out that experienced cooks would know to add the shortening to the dry ingredients, so that it was understood and not added to the directions.

Yeah, not so much understood here. But I decided to continue, and cut the shortening in using two knives (many thanks to whomever included this tip on their blog, because it works really well if you don't happen to have a pastry cutter handy--don't remember for sure where I read it, but the gratitude is there) and the shortening disappeared into the massive mound of dough.

Rolled it out. Cut the biscuits out. And baked them.

The results (surprisingly more positive than the previous information would lead you to believe) :

---Very flat biscuits emerged from the oven, and although they didn't rise very much, they were mostly very well-received.

---No wads of shortening masquerading as "biscuit surprise", for which I was grateful. They were a lot sweeter than I was expecting, but perhaps I should have been expecting it when I remember that the recipe does call for a cup of sugar...that "experienced cook" thing again, I guess.

---They were eaten heartily the first night. They were used to dip in gravy from crockpot chicken the second night. And they were mostly gone the third night. So they are a "keeper". I'll keep looking for a more salty version, partly because I prefer saltier, but also because it's always good to have options and variety....

From what I hear, these biscuits are supposed to rise pretty high, and will do so if not handled too much--if you want them lighter, avoid too much handling/rolling out, etc. (Yeah, I rolled that dough out several times, thus adding to the "flatness" of the final results...)

So it's kind of embarassing to relate how little I knew, but if it encourages anyone to practice their skills before an emergency, it's worth it. I can just imagine how (much more) upset I would be if I wasted that much flour when there was probably no place to replenish it easily. I might have finished the batch anyway, but it was definitely a plus to be able to contact someone with more knowledge (thanks Mom!) when a question arose, and that also might not be an option in an emergency. We might have only those in our household, or just ourselves, to turn to in an emergency situation. Better to get the questions out of the way before an emergency situation--less stress, and hopefully, smoother sailing. Or lighter biscuits. Whatever the case may be.... :)


Grannie K said...

Thanks for sharing. I appreciate all you teach me.

Marie said...

Grannie K--Thanks for the kind words!