19 October 2009

Sage Biscuits

Oh, these biscuits. If you've never made biscuits before, I encourage you to try this recipe. If you don't like sage, leave it out and just make plain biscuits. They're so easy and don't pretend to require special biscuit cutters. Serve them with some kind of warm soup or stew. We had them with corn chowder last week, but usually we like them best in chicken and dumplings, or Ina Garten's Chicken Stew.
But I will admit, I think the sage is the best part of these biscuits. I have a sage plant in my garden that is still alive today for the sole purpose of enhancing these biscuits. I make the biscuits every fall/winter. The rest of the year, I look longingly at my sage plant, dreaming of the day the weather turns cool again and I can make some more biscuits.

This recipe is from Better Homes & Garden, so you know it's foolproof. Honestly, the hardest part is cutting in the butter, and even that is not hard! I'll give you the recipe here, with this link to BHG for an easily printable version.

Sage Biscuits
(adapted from BHG's Herb Mini Biscuits)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
1/4 cup finely snipped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or lemon juice + milk, see below*)

Optional:
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
Ground sage, sesame seeds, cracked white pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Grease large baking sheets; set aside. In a very large mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (I cube the butter first for more manageable pieces.)

This is "cutting in."

Stir in sage. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. (It will be messy, floury, and falling apart. This is OK.)

Knead dough lightly for 10 to 12 strokes until nearly smooth. (I do this by folding the dough in half, pressing down gently, giving it a quarter turn, and repeating. The dough will come together smoothly, like this.)

Lightly roll dough to a 15x9-inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into 1-1/2-inch diamonds. Sprinkle with additional flour. (If you roll yours on your countertop, like I did, make sure you press very gently with your knife when cutting, so you don't scratch your countertop.)

OK, so mine isn't quite a rectangle. No matter. And I made my diamonds less than mini. You can make them as big or as small as you like.

I just love this photo of them all lined up.

Optional: Instead of sprinkling with additional flour, combine egg white and water; brush biscuits with mixture and sprinkle with ground sage, sesame seeds, and/or white pepper.

Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Remove biscuits from baking sheet to a wire rack; cool. Makes about 48 biscuits.

To make ahead and freeze: Arrange in covered containers and freeze up to 1 month. To serve, thaw at room temperature for 1 hour. Split biscuits and arrange on serving trays.

* I never have buttermilk, so I use this substitute: Place 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Add plain milk until the total reaches 1 1/2 cups. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. The result will be a little lumpy, but that's OK.

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