February 16, 2010

Recipe for Beer Biscuits and Easy, Fast, Homemade Drop Biscuits

I remember my mother's cousin, MaryBeth, made the best biscuits in the world.  She called them "Cat Head Biscuits," because they came out of the oven just about the same size as her cat Tabby's head.  We'd set at her table and eat those hot biscuits with fresh butter.  I'd have chocolate milk (made with real Hershey's Cocoa) and she'd have coffee. 

I've never been able to duplicate that recipe just right.

When I don't resort to the notorious canned fare from the grocery (eek!), I like to make the drop biscuits -- or those "biscuit-muffins" made with beer that I first learned about on Paula Deen's show on the Food Network.  What's so great about her recipe is that not only is it fast, and cheap, but it's so so easy.

Now, sure, MaryBeth's biscuits were the rolled kind.  But I'm sure that she'd think that Paula Deen's were just "mighty fine" too.  (MaryBeth said "mighty fine" quite a bit, right along with "bless her heart." With a long Texas drawl that we're not hearing much any more, sad to say.)

Paula Deen's Beer Biscuits - Muffin Tin Buscuits
(with my commentary)
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix together the following, don't stir too much:

4 cups biscuit mix (you know, Bisquick - don't try the imitations, they just don't come out the same)
1/2 cup sugar (you can use less if you want a less-sweet biscuit, though I don't know why you would.)
1 can of beer (not lite, not Fosters, not some trendy stuff.  The basic 12 oz can of Bud works just fine.)
2 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter (yes, unsalted butter!)

Now, pour the batter into greased muffin tins. Bake till the tops are golden brown. They come out really pretty, and yes, Dear Reader -- they do look like muffins.  They're kinda like Sunday Dinner Biscuits, they're so cute in a basket with a nice cuptowel to keep 'em warm.  You can add stuff to the batter if you want to mess with this basic recipe, too.  Like crumbled bacon and bits of cheddar cheese thrown in.  This is never bad. 
Reba's Drop Biscuits
Drop biscuits are easy, too.  But you don't roll out any dough and cut little circles out of it, and you don't use a muffin tin.  You make a dough and then drop it by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.  Bake 'em up. 

First, planning ahead, do two things.  Heat your oven to 450 degrees.  And, take a stick of unsalted butter and cut it into little tiny squares and stick those little squares in a plastic bowl and put this in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Really cold butter is better here, but don't let it freeze up and get hard as ice on you. Fifteen to twenty minutes should be fine. Unless your freezer is from NASA or something.

Second, put this stuff into a big mixing bowl:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
4 t baking powder
1/2 t cream of tartar
1/2 t salt

Now, take your butter squares and cut them into this bowl of dry stuff. Cut 'em by using a cool pastry cutter if you have one. (Since this may mean different things to different people, I've added an image of what I mean by "pastry cutter" - above.)  If not, use a couple of dinner knives and criss-cross the blades into the dry stuff, until you get those butter squares are cut up and you've got a bowl of crumby stuff. Big white butter crumbs.

Whew. Put some flour on your forehead so everyone will know you made these things from scratch. Important step.

Next. get yourself another bowl and put into it:
2/3 cup buttermilk (use real milk only if you don't have buttermilk)
1 egg.

Mix this stuff together with a fork. You can use a whisk if you want to be fancy.

Now, pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff. Stir. Don't stir too much, just till things combine. Again, don't get stir happy here.

You're almost done! Grab your biggest cookie sheet - you don't need to grease it up with all that butter in the dough - and if you want to add parchment paper, go on with your bad self. Not a must. Get a serving spoon (for bigger biscuits) and drop spoonfuls of the batter about 2 inches apart from each other onto the sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees until they're golden brown.  Yum. 

And yes, Dear Reader, both of these versions of biscuits freeze just fine. 

Image: Pastry Cutter 
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