Sunday, February 19, 2012

Biscuits au Levain

Sourdough biscuits? Why not? After all, buttermilk biscuits are common, and buttermilk is cultured milk, while sourdough or levain is cultured water. The recipe for my levain, which I use in all my breads and pizzas, is here. I made these up in less than a half hour total, and they were fantastic. Beside levain, the other secret is lard. That's right, real, honest-to-goodness lard (if you can't bring yourself to use it, substitute unsalted butter). Here's the recipe (credit is due to the Sarah's Musings Blog, whose recipe I adapted for my levain)

Makes 8 2-1/2 inch biscuits

333 grams (about 2-1/2 cups) all-purpose unbleached flour
14 grams (1 Tbl) sugar
7 g (a scant 1 tsp) Kosher salt
10 g (2 tsp) baking power
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup lard or butter, frozen or very cold
180 grams (about 1 cup when frothy) levain 
115 grams, give or take (about 1/2 cup) milk

  1. Feed levain at least 2 hours before beginning.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients. Chop lard or butter into chunks and work into dry mixture with fingers until reduced to the size of peas. Do not overwork.
  4. Add levain and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add milk, mixing in, until dough just holds together. It should be a very tight dough.
  6. Using hands, knead lightly for a minute and push into a disk on a floured countertop, pushing it out gently and evenly until about 3/4 inch thick.
  7. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into biscuits, recombining dough and reforming as necessary.
  8. Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper
  9. Bake about 30-35 minutes until just starting to turn brown on top.
  10. Serve immediately.

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