This recipe was given to me by a good friend that claimed his girlfriend made the best biscuits. This was further verified by his family (so he says). She was nice enough to share the recipe so I could try it myself. I’m always on the look out for something good, so I was eager to try it.
Of course, with most of my recipes, I almost never check for every ingredient, because I assume that I have the basics i.e., flour, salt, baking soda, and in this case, cream of tartar. I go to pull the ingredients out of the cupboard and I don’t have cream of tartar. Crap!!! How can I not have cream of tartar? I usually have 2 or 3 containers sitting around, but now I’m out completely. I’ve already made coffee and bacon, and my son and I are still in jammies, so there’s no way we’re running to the market.
I was torn between cutting it out completely and searching for a substitute (I always thought that cream of tartar was the substitute). Time to go to the web. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find anything. Most of the suggestions were for substituting cream of tartar when beating egg whites. For use as a leavening agent, they suggested that I use baking powder (which is already in the recipe). There was a lot of talk about vinegar and lemon juice, but I decided to just add a little baking soda to see what would happen.
They turned out pretty well (I think). They were somehow light and heavy at the same time. They rose nicely and the layers of butter was nice, but all I could think was “would the cream of tartar make that much of a difference?” I’m going to have to bake them again to find out.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening or butter
- 2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix well to distribute the baking powder and the salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut shortening into flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you use butter, be sure it is chilled. (Mixing by hand softens the shortening, making the dough sticky and hard to handle.) Gently push the flour-shortening mixture against the sides of the bowl, making a well in the center. Pour the milk into the well all at once. Using a fork, stir just until the mixture follows the fork around the bowl and forms soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 10 to 12 strokes.
On the lightly floured surface, pat the dough to 1/2-inch thickness (or roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin, if desired). Sprinkle a little flour over dough. Cut biscuit dough with a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, pressing the cutter straight down. Be careful not to twist the cutter or flatten the cut biscuit edges or you won't get straight-sided, evenly shaped biscuits. Dip the cutter into flour between cuts to prevent sticking. If you do not have a biscuit cutter, use a straight-sided glass. Or, pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle and cut into squares or triangles using a sharp knife. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the cut biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet. For crusty-sided biscuits, place about 1 inch apart. For soft-sided biscuits, place biscuits close together in an ungreased baking pan. Re-roll scraps of dough and cut into biscuit shapes. Try to cut out as many biscuits as possible from a single rolling of dough. Too many re-rollings of the dough causes biscuits to be tough and dry. Bake biscuits 10 to 12 minutes or until biscuits are golden on the top and the bottom.