December
8 - 2008

Frugal kitchen: Homemade biscuits, 14 cents each

This weekend, I had to laugh at this ad in the coupon section of the newspaper:

It doesn’t seem like such a great deal to buy trans-fat laden refrigerated biscuits (3 grams of trans fat per biscuit!) — and pay about 30 cents each, as this ad promises.

If you must have biscuits (and I confess, I must), you can make them yourself, and even using organic butter, pay about 13 cents each! With no trans fat … and in fact, the price is a bit less, as that 14 cents includes the oven time, and even the Pillsbury variety requires baking. (See the cost breakdown here.)

I love homemade biscuits with soup. Together, they are a fast, easy, inexpensive and relatively nutritious (though not necessarily “healthy” if you consider the butter and flour in the biscuits) dinner, and a great way to warm up in the winter.

My recipe takes about five minutes to mix up and 15 minutes to bake:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (or if you are baking something else, it can be cooler — biscuits will brown less and take a bit longer to cook).

In the food processor, combine:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (using all white flour makes a flakier biscuit, but the wheat adds some fiber and nutrients, plus a nuttier texture)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Pulse a few times, until all ingredients are mixed.

Add

  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces.

Pulse the food processor about 15 times, until the butter is broken up into pea-sized pieces and mixed in.

Pour over the top of the butter-flour mixture:

  • 3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk, if you have it on hand)

Pulse several times, checking on the ingredients to see if they are all moistened. Check by squeezing the mixture together. You want it to hold together but not be sticky or wet. If you need more moisture, add up to another 1/4 cup of milk.

Grab the dough mixture and squish it together a few times into a ball. You don’t want to knead it too much — like pie dough, you want to keep the biscuit dough cool and the butter unmelted for maximum flakiness.

  • If you have the time, space and energy, flour a surface and roll the biscuit dough out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out round biscuits with a fluted cutter or a floured drinking glass. Cobble the leftovers together and roll out again to cut out more biscuits. Purists say to discard the rest of the dough rather than cobble it together again, but cheapskates will blanche at the idea of tossing out perfectly good dough and make more biscuits.
  • If you are pressed for time, space or energy, pull off pieces of the dough ball (about 1 1/2″ in diameter per ball) and squash them slightly into circles.

Place the biscuit dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. Eat ’em while they’re hot.

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