These biscuits have a flavor that cannot easily be placed: slightly cocoa-ish, a bit mysterious yet tasty enough to keep an eater interested. They would be delightful baked into a chocolate biscuit bread pudding or simply topped with a smear of Nutella and a toasted marshmallow.
The type of baking pan you choose will affect the biscuits' exterior. Soft: Use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan or ovenproof skillet in which the biscuits will nestle together snugly. Crisp: Use a baking sheet (or two stacked, to insulate the biscuit bottoms) or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed farther apart, allowing air to circulate.
You'll need a 2-inch biscuit cutter.
Servings: 10 biscuits
- Unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
- 2 cups store-bought or homemade biscuit mix, plus more as needed (see NOTE)
- 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup regular or low-fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup Coca-Cola
- Water, as needed
- 1/4 cup flour, for the work surface
Position the top oven rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Have your baking pan of choice at hand; if you are using a baking sheet, brush it with a little melted butter.
Fork-sift or whisk together the biscuit mix and brown sugar in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep. Use the back of your hand to make a deep hollow in the center of the mix.
Combine the sour cream and 1/4 cup of the Coca-Cola in a small bowl. Pour that mixture into the hollow and stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the biscuit mix into the liquid. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of Coca-Cola and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If some flour remains on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of water, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.
Generously dust the work surface with all-purpose flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface. Use more of the flour to coat your hands.
Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with the all-purpose flour. With floured hands, fold the dough in half and pat it out into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if necessary, and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat the dough out into a 1-inch-thick round. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuit, pressing firmly, starting at the outside edge and cutting the biscuits very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter.
Dough scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although the scraps will make tougher biscuits.
Carefully transfer the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 11 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. After 7 minutes, rotate the pan from front to back; if the bottoms are browning too quickly, slide a second baking sheet underneath to add insulation and retard browning. Bake for 4 to 7 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown.
When the biscuits are done, remove them from the oven; lightly brush the tops with softened butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.
NOTE: To make a biscuit mix, fork-sift or whisk 10 cups of self-rising flour, 3 teaspoons of salt, 5 teaspoons of cream of tartar and 4 teaspoons of baking powder in a large, deep bowl. Scatter 2 cups of shortening, lard or unsalted butter over the flour and work it in by rubbing the shortening and flour with your fingers, as if snapping the thumb and fingers together (or use two forks or knives, or a pastry cutter), until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese, with no piece larger than a pea. Shake the bowl occasionally to allow the larger pieces of fat to bounce to the top of the flour, revealing the largest lumps that still need rubbing. The yield is about 13 1/2 cups; refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
Adapted from "Southern Biscuits," by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs-Smith, 2011).
Tested by Becky Krystal.
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