Sometimes even the most fanatic scientist doesn’t want to do science, but just enjoy something. Whether it’s a view of the sky, snow flakes falling down or, in this case, eating good food. This morning I was in baking mode again, besides making apple pie, cinnamon rolls and eating bread baked the previous day, I decided to give biscuit making a try. American biscuits that is, with gravy. I don’t even like them, but luckily someone else in our household does. So I made biscuits and gravy. And even though there’s some science to biscuits and gravy, I’ll focus on the recipe, because sometimes, it’s just time to enjoy what you’re doing.
Biscuits & gravy, for breakfast?
We’ve travelled to the US several times now and can really enjoy travelling around there, especially the amazing natural parks. Also, once you know what to look for we’ve had some amazing food (read: how to avoid the fast food properly)! One time we found through fabulous breakfast place (thanks to our bed & breakfast host). It was the perfect little diner, people continuously pooring in new coffee and great food. Portions were huge (of course), but since we’d be hiking most of the day that was perfect.
Biscuits and gravy were on the menu as well. Even to me, a non-biscuit-lover, the biscuits actually tasted pretty good!
Aiming to get back to the mood and experience, I decided to try and make them myself.
Biscuits are like scones
Looking up a recipe I noticed that biscuits are very much like scones in the way they’re are made. Both have to be made quick, that is, the dough shouldn’t be kneaded for a long period of time. Instea, you want to just bring all ingredients together to prevent gluten networks forming and make a super crumbly biscuit.
The difference between biscuits and scones definitely the butter content. My biscuit recipe at least has more butter than my scones recipe. But, it doesn’t contain any egg and a lot less sugar. Since biscuits are savoury, that makes sense.
The best trick to make these doughs
Since these doughs need only very little kneading and treatment they tend to be a little cumbersome. Until now. I finally listened to one of the recipe bloggers and decided to use my food processor for making this biscuit dough. In one way: perfect! It goes super fast, you don’t have any sticky fingers full of butter and dough and creates a very fluffy dough.
Find a food processor to cumbersome? That’s what I also thought, but the trick here is using a small and compact one like the one I’m showing here if you’re only making a small batch. That way there aren’t tons of dishes to be washed.
Gravy = white?
When I think of gravy, I see a brown sauce/jus, often made from stock and some sort of meat. However, biscuits are eaten with this white gravy. To me, a white gravy reminds me of a bechamel sauce. Bechamel sauces are used for making lasagne for instance. What’s special about a bechamel sauce is that it uses flour to thicken milk.
What’s special about this white gravy is the inclusions of some sort of sausage to make it. Sausages not only contain meat and fat, but also spices. I assume that it’s the combination of fat and spices that gives this gravy the characteristic flavour.
The biscuit and (bacon) gravy
Since I didn’t have any sausages and think that eating sausages for breakfast is a little extreme, I decided to use bacon for the gravy. That worked out very well. The bacon gives a lot of flavour to the gravy. Bacon is a lot easier to dose in smaller quantities, so I wasn’t left with a lot of excess meat or gravy.
The recipe is based on one from the Brown Eyed Baker.
- 100g flour
- ⅓ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp baking power
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp salt, if you are used to salty foods, add some more
- 40g butter
- 60ml buttermilk
- 20g bacon
- 10g butter
- 10g flour
- 150 ml milk
- ground nutmeg
- ground cloves
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Do the mix with the butter in a food processor and quickly blitz together. Do short blitzes until it has become a fine consistent crumb.
- Add the buttermilk and mix in the process until it becomes crumbly. Again, this should go fast, just a few blitzes should be enough.
- Shape into round balls, or first roll into a flat sheet which you can cut into triangles or circles.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 15 minutes, until they are a nice golden brown.
- Cut the bacon in small pieces and fry in a small pan.
- Add the butter and leave to fry for a little longer.
- Add the flour, stir through and keep heating until it has absorbed almost all the fat.
- Add the milk, stir well and heat up while stirring regularly. The mixture will thicken over time. If it becomes too thick, add some more milk. If it does not become thick mix some flour with a little bit of water in a bowl and add to the mixture.
- Add the nutmeg and cloves and if necessary salt and pepper to taste.