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Web-Exclusive Recipe: Angel Biscuits

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Angel Biscuits

Makes 40 biscuits

What makes these biscuits truly heavenly is their diversity. The addition of yeast to the traditional baking powder biscuit dough gives the final product an extra refinement. You can easily make rolls with it by placing three walnut-size balls of the dough side by side in each cup of a lightly greased muffin tin (cloverleaf rolls) or by rolling a disk of dough into an oval, brushing it with melted butter and folding half the dough onto the other half (Parker House rolls).

Many versions of Angel biscuit recipes exist, but former chef and restaurateur David Hagedorn finds this combination of ingredients from a recipe on http://www.cooks.com/ works best. The dough is durable; it can be prepared well in advance and held in the refrigerator for several days. If extra guests show up, it is easy to break off more biscuits from the mother batch. Or you can cut the dough into biscuits, freeze them, thaw them for an hour and then bake them. The recipe can be halved as well.

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

4 cups flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling

1 cup cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces

1 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.

In a very large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter or clean hands, cut it into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal interspersed with pea-size butter bits. Add the yeast mixture and buttermilk, stirring just until a dough forms. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a small handful of flour (to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers) and knead the dough lightly 3 or 4 times.

At this point, the dough can be rolled out or stored in a large, lightly greased nonreactive bowl. To store, spray the dough lightly with nonstick cooking spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Generously flour a work surface and rolling pin. Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour and roll out to a thickness of no more than 1/2 inch. Use a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter to form the biscuits; gather up unused dough, knead it briefly and reroll it until all the dough is used. Place the biscuits 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Per biscuit: 94 calories, 1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 121 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Sue Kovach Shuman; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com

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