Day 1, Wednesday
Biscuits and Scones
M.O.P. (Method of Production) is Biscuit method, or cutting method. We are cutting the fat into the flour, looking for layers of fat and flour. Your fat must be absolutely cold, chilled in the freezer is best, then slowly adding the liquid around the sides, having minimum contact with the flour. You don’t want to over mix.
First measure the ingredients, sifting the dry together. You are looking for large chunks of butter, around walnut sized. Today we used buttermilk in our biscuits. The milk should be poured around the side of the bowl, then gently mixed together with the bowl scraper, then mixed further with your hands. It is important to chill the dough and harden the butter again. Then roll it out, cut with cookie cutters, wash with an egg wash, and bake them off. Laminated dough needs a lot more heat initially and to have the butter melt later. Biscuits have less sugar and won’t caramelize in the oven. There is a distinction between an American biscuit and a European biscuit; an American biscuit is what a European may call a savory scone, and a biscuit is the European word for cookie.
20 oz bread flour
20 oz pastry flour
.75 oz salt
2 oz sugar
2.5 oz baking powder
14 oz butter
1lb 10 oz milk
Chef’s Demo- Sift the dry ingredients together onto parchment and toss in the butter. Take the flour and flatten it with the butter. As you go rub the fat and flour together, coating both parts. Also mix in the salt, sugar, and baking powder. You are looking for large butter chunks. Pour the milk around the side and over and using the bowl scraper fold everything together. When it comes together and the milk is absorbed you can start mixing with your hands. Dump it out onto the workbench and continue mixing. You need to knead the dough a little, to give it slight texture, but you don’t want it really soft, you still want those large chunks of butter. The bowl scraper is good because it keeps your hands and table clean. Push the dough and bits back together.
Fold over the dough 2-3 times to get it more laminated. You don’t want smooth dough. Flatten it into a circle and put it onto parchment; the parchment will assist you in folding it over making some more laminations. Wrap it in plastic wrap. The dough needs at least 30 minutes to rest in the cooler; this gives time for the gluten to relax, the fat to harden so it holds its shape, and for the starch to absorb some more of the milk. You can make variations to this recipe by adding cheese, bacon, or other savory ingredients.
Form the dough into a rounded mound, wrap in parchment and chill it. The dough will rise slightly and firm up after resting in the cooler.
For the rolling out of the biscuit dough: Our dough was resting for over an hour in the cooler. To begin I dusted my bench with bread flour; the higher gluten and lower starch means it is absorbed less by the dough. Because of the buttermilk and the baking powder the dough feels slightly leavened and firm. I beat the dough down a little to flatten it, this breaks the butter up a little more evenly. Then roll over the dough, not pressing it out but rolling evenly over the top. The dough is elastic and shrinks back some as you roll it, this is because of the gluten. I roll it to ¾” to 1” thick. Using a 2” or greater dip ring cutter I cut straight down. You want a smooth straight edge; otherwise the biscuit will bake and end up lopsided.
Visible chunks of butter. Use the circle ring to cut a good sized biscuit.
Be sure to chill it again and brush with an egg wash and finally bake at 425 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes.
We had three different egg washes to compare: water and whole eggs, milk and whole eggs, and cream and egg yolks. It is a good idea to use the pastry brush first to clear off excess flour then proceed with brushing on the wash. The cream and yolk mixture gives a soft texture. If you have too much wash you will not have a nice glaze on top but scrambled eggs instead.
For the scones today we made a half recipe of the Orange-Chocolate Chip variation.
17 oz pastry flour
4 oz sugar
1 oz baking powder
¾ t salt
4 ½ oz butter
5 oz cream or milk
Orange- Chocolate Chip Scones
Yields about 6, 2.5 oz scones
8.5 oz pastry flour
.5 oz baking powder
1/8 t salt
2 ¼ oz butter
2 ½ oz cream or milk
10 oz chocolate chips
Zest of 1 orange
Butter, eggs, and cream kept chilled until needed
Chef’s Demo- Scaled out flour and baking powder are sifted together over parchment, then add the sugar and salt and pour into your mixing bowl. Add the cold butter and toss. You could cut in the butter like we did for the mealy dough by making the pieces of butter smaller, making the dough tenderer. You should take the butter further than hazelnuts to get a good crumb; the fat will be rubbed better and create a tender texture. The butter will be in fairly small pieces compared to the biscuits. After the butter is cut in you can add the chocolate chips and zest the orange directly over the bowl. By adding the zest now the essential oils of the zest will be strapped in the starches and the fat, carrying more flavors into the final product. Because this is a smaller recipe it is ok to add the chocolate chips now, but if you were making a very large recipe, say 10x’s, then you would want to add it later as the handling of the dough might cause the chips to begin to melt.