I love biscuits. I make goooood biscuits. I make pretty good gravy to go over the pretty good biscuits but, for some reason, my biscuits have been flat. Flaky and tasty, but without the height, biscuits just aren’t anything to brag about. I’ve gone back to my old tried and true recipes to see what I might be missing, even made a batch this morning that, despite being about 2″ high, are delicious and come apart in half a dozen layers, but there’s nothing appetizing about what looks like a hockey puck.
It’s aggravating. Even a little embarrassing. The Hairy Dude is eating them like cookies because, ugly as they are, they taste amazing – light, flaky, buttery, and just enough baked-on buttery crisp to the top that makes you want another. Except for being flat, they’re the other half of wonderful.
When my biscuits first started going south..er, wait, that’s a total contradiction because southern-style biscuits are the standard of success when it comes to this effort. So, in other words, when my biscuits first started to vie for starting status on the Nanooks or Aces hockey teams, I chalked it up to a bad day for baking. But now, I’m concerned because after several failed attempts at biscuits for breakfast or dinner, alongside beans or beneath gravy, they’re a sad expose on what used to be something I figured were worth at least a ribbon at the fair.
Recipe changes aren’t working – Cooks Illustrated, Lady and Sons, Joy of Cooking, More With Less, even the old gal, Betty Crocker – nothing is saving me, making me look good when they come out of the oven.
Until this morning. These suckers came out of the oven as ugly as any biscuit has ever been, and I was incensed. Flour was good, unsalted butter was cold, milk was sweet. The dough wasn’t overworked, beat down, dry. Everything should have worked together to produce some stellar, sky-high, flaky love. Hairy Dude laughed at me, said “Mom makes reallllly gooooood bicuits, the ones with flour dusted all over the top, about 10 inches high,” and he almost got smucked with the pan. Still, he ate them. Pulled apart, flaky, steamy-hot with melted butter slathered in between, he ate them and smiled. “I’m tellin’ ya, better call Mom.”
And then. I knew. To the cupboard, pull out the drawer, and find the can of baking powder: Two-thirds empty with an expiration date of 2010. Text to the daughter to bring me a new can of baking powder when she comes today. I’ll make a new batch for supper and I’ll bet $50 they’re prize-winners.