As I've mentioned, I don't much cook, but I do bake. While Mark handles all the major chef'ing at our house, I do the dessert. It's a good system.
One thing I have yet to bake to the satisfaction of my partner, however (and much to his chagrin), is biscuits.
Mark has a very specific idea about what constitutes a good biscuit. Buttery, tender, flaky, mile-high. Southern style, he says. Made to accompany fried chicken, or eat with ham. However, I grew up on a whole other type of biscuit. Being not from the South, but from the very rural West, my childhood dinners were often accompanied by baking powder biscuits (made pretty much like this). These are not buttery (and are, in fact, made with shortening), don't rise much, and harden into hockey pucks when they get cold. They are best served with fried venison and gravy. So, we have had, for many years, a biscuit miscommunication.
These past few times, though, I've made every attempt to make the type of biscuits Mark is craving. I've tried several recipes. And every time, including the the most recent (last night), they come out flat and hard. They just don't rise. Last night's were also completely tasteless and dry.
I followed Alton Brown's recipe. To the letter. To wit, I:
* 2 cups flour
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons shortening
* 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life.)
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
So help me! What did I do wrong? A friend suggested it might be bad baking powder, but I haven't noticed an issue with anything else I've baked, so I'm not sure that's completely likely. Any other possibilities--or tried and try recipes--would be much appreciated!