Monday, October 31, 2011

Channeling my inner Johnny

If I were going to dress up as someone for Halloween tonight, I would be Johnny, from Airplane! He's my favorite character.*

I could then re-enact a pivotal scene from the movie:

Llyod Bridges: What can you make out of this?**

Me:  I can't make a brooch, or a pterodactyl.
But I can make biscuits!

And pancakes!

If you listen carefully to the DVD commentary, it turns out that this is the reason that Leon is getting larger.

I'm a big fan of both of these recipes, because you can do all the work the night before.  In one bowl, you create a "wet mix" of starter and the liquid ingredients in the recipe, and in another, a "dry mix" of the flour and other ingredients.  In the morning, put the two together and you're be less than 1/2 an hour away from a glorious breakfast, any day of the week.

Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits
To save yourself even more work, freeze a few of the cut biscuit dough rounds, and bake them up whenever the mood hits you.  Kudos to Pink Basil for that tip, and the handy step-by-step guide, and to this website, for the basic recipe that I modified to make these astonishingly light and delicious biscuits.

Did I mention the layers? Crazy!
Night before (wet):
1/2 c. active starter
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. flour

Night before (dry):
1 1/2 c. flour
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. cold butter, cut into dice

Day of:
Your choice of 1 egg, beaten, as wash before the biscuits bake, or 3 Tbs. melted butter, to brush on the biscuits right when they come out of the oven.

Before heading to bed, but while you still have a little energy, prep the biscuits.  Combine starter and buttermilk in a large glass or ceramic bowl.  With a large spoon or spatula, gently stir in the 1c. of  flour until the batter is smooth and fairly lump-free.  It does not have to be perfect.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside, hopefully in a fairly warm spot, like your oven with the light left on.

Mix all of the dry ingredients except the cold butter in a medium-sized tupperware container or bowl.  It should be large enough that you can use a pastry cutter or a fork in without spilling stuff everywhere, because that's the next step.  Toss in the diced butter, and, using the aforementioned pastry cutter, fork, or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like flour with a few small crumbs and little pea shapes of butter in it.  Put the lid on the tupperware (or cover you bowl), and put it in the fridge.

Get some sleep.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 400.  Place a cookie sheet in the oven as it is preheating.

The starter mixture should have risen a bit, and will resemble a bubbly sponge.  Pour in the flour mixture, and mix just until the dough comes together.  Do not over mix!

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently a time or two, just until most of the straggly bits are incorporated.  Roll or pat out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch high.  Seriously, any thicker, and they will rise so high they'll topple over while they bake.  Trust me!

Cut with biscuit cutter into desired shapes.  Re-roll out the scraps and repeat, until you've got as much of the dough as you can.  Note: At this point you can freeze the biscuits, or even refrigerate them in a covered container for a day or so, until you are ready to bake them.  I tend to bake half the recipe and save half for later.

If using an egg wash, brush each biscuit lightly with a little beaten egg.   Carefully remove the hot cookie sheet from the oven, and place the biscuits on it, leaving a small gap between the biscuits as they will rise as they bake.   For 2 inch biscuits, bake for 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown.  If yours are larger or smaller, adjust the time accordingly.   If using melted butter, brush the biscuits with butter right when they come out of the oven.


Both of these work wonderfully with good old Buttermilk Biscuits, too!

Maple-Bacon Biscuits
5-6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled
3 Tbs. maple syrup, plus a generous splash for the egg wash

Add the bacon and the 3 Tbs. of syrup to the starter mixture before stirring in the dry ingredients.   Use the egg wash method, adding a generous splash of maple syrup to the beaten egg before brushing onto the biscuits.  Inspired by A Cozy Kitchen and visits to Huckleberry Bakery.

Cheddar-Scallion Biscuits
1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1-2 green onions, very finely minced
1 tsp. freshly grated black pepper, optional

Add the cheese, scallions and pepper, if using, when you add the flour butter mixture.  Use the egg wash method.  Inspired by Tracey's Culinary Adventures, and my general tendency to think anything is better with cheese.

Cheddar-Scallion, on the left, Maple-Bacon, on the right. 

Click to Print this Recipe!

Sourdough Pancakes
Given how much we all love my sour cream pancake recipe, I wasn't sure how these would compare.  Turns out, they're fabulous, too, in almost the exact same way.  A tiny bit tangy, light and fluffy, yet still with that wonderful toothsome texture and melt-in-your-mouth quality that makes the originals so tasty.  Yum!
They really don't need all this syrup, but try telling that to my daughter.

Night before (wet):
1/2 c. active starter
3/4 c. warm water
3/4 c. flour

Night before (dry):
1 3/4 c. flour
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Day of:
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk or buttermilk
2 c. of "night before" wet mixture (if you have extra, add it back to your starter)
All of the "night before" dry mix
3 Tbs. butter, melted, plus extra for cooking pancakes

Butter, powdered sugar, and warm syrup, for serving.

While you are watching Jon Stewart, combine the starter and the warm water in a large glass or ceramic bowl.  With a large spoon or spatula, stir in the 3/4 c. flour until the batter is smooth and generally lump-free.  It does not have to be perfect.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set the bowl aside, preferably in a warm place, such as your oven with the light left on.

In a tupperware container or another bowl, combine all of the night before dry ingredients, and stir well with a fork to combine.   Cover the container or bowl, and set aside for the morning.

Turn in.

In the morning, combine the beaten egg and the milk with the 2 c. of starter mixture in a large bowl.  Pour in the prepared dry ingredients, and stir to combine.  Add the 3 Tbs. melted butter, and stir.  It is OK if the batter is slightly lumpy...don't stir too much.  Allow to sit for a couple of minutes while you heat up your griddle.

Over medium high heat, melt plenty of butter on your griddle.  Ladle pancakes onto the griddle, in circles about 4 inches in diameter.  Cook until the tops are bubble and the edges are slightly dry, about 2 minutes, then flip, and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for another 2 minutes, or until pancake center springs back when you touch it lightly with your fingers.

Drizzle a little additional melted butter on top, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve immediately.

Very lightly adapted from this link, idea from Joy the Baker.

Blueberry - sprinkle blueberries on top of the pancakes after you first ladle them onto the griddle.
Chocolate chip - sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the pancakes after you first ladle them onto the griddle.
Banana - sprinkle sliced bananas on top of the pancakes after you first ladle them onto the griddle.

I think you get the idea.

Click to Print this Recipe!

* Actually, it's a tie between him and Barbara Billingsley:  "Jive ass dude don't got no brains anyhow.  Shiiit!
** Deleted dialog:
Llyod Bridges: "Sourdough starter? What is it?"
Me: It's a living culture of pre-activated yeast, water and flour, but that's not important right now.


  1. Oh! how i love the pancakes with the crunchy ring...and i may try to make a batch of those cheddar scallion biscuits...i can practically taste them now.

  2. Nothing like the crunchy ring...Let me know if you make the biscuits!

  3. I just want to live in the same old folks home as you do some day... as long as they give you kitchen access and you can remember how to follow your recipes.

  4. Ha ha ha! Why do you think I created this blog? I've already specified in my directives to the kids that I can only be put away in a place with wifi, a grocery store that delivers, and 24 hour access to a convection oven.

  5. I love this, thank you! I will be making biscuits to night for baking tomorrow!!