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November 27, 2008

All-purpose flour (Recipe: cheddar cheese biscuits)

Updated from the archives, with new links, recipe and photo.

Biscuits

For the most part, I don't believe in "one size fits all," because I am a size and shape that one size never seems to fit.

And while in my pantry I have half a dozen types of flour -- surprising, given that I'm a notorious bake-o-phobe -- the one I reach for more often than not is "one size fits all," also known as all-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour is a blend of hard (high-protein) and soft (higher carbohydrate, lower protein) wheats, with the bran (outside coating that protects the wheat berry) and germ (the embryo of a new wheat seedling) removed. All-purpose flour has a medium protein content of 9-12 percent, compared to whole-wheat (14 percent), or cake flour (5-8 percent). The King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour I use contains 11.7 percent protein. It's designed to be a flexible flour for everything from apple-cranberry-bourbon cake to country-style whole wheat pita to cinnamon roll cookies to maple-oatmeal scones.

Flour2

On its own or in combination with whole wheat or white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour works for most any baked goods, and the high starch content makes it an ideal thickener for gumbo and gravy, stews, and coatings. I like the clean taste of unbleached flour; bleaching makes the flour whiter in color, but I'd rather have my bread taste good than shine in the dark.

All-purpose flour keeps indefinitely in a cool, dry place, stored in an airtight container. I never store flour in the freezer, because the temperature of my frost-free freezer fluctuates.

And, because I don't bake often, I buy flour in five-pound bags, decant it into one-gallon glass jars (a perfect fit), and replenish frequently. One piece of advice: be sure to include a piece of the bag, or label your jars. Once decanted, one white flour looks much like another.

Cheddar cheese biscuits

My friend Lucia was born with the biscuit gene, and though I've watched her make biscuits several times, mine never taste quite the same as hers. I think it's the love, or the elbow grease, she puts into them. Adapted from The Bed & Breakfast Cookbook, written by Lucia's sister, Martha Murphy. Makes 12 biscuits.

Ingredients

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Mix baking soda and buttermilk. Add slowly to the flour mixture along with half of the cheese, and mix to a soft dough. (At this point the dough may be stored in a covered dish in the refrigerator for several days.) When ready to use, roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Southern buttermilk biscuits
Sweet potato latkes
Apple spice cake
Drop In & Decorate sugar cookies
Pizza bianca
Apple tart for non-bakers

Comments

Love these biscuits they look soft and crumbly. Lydia wishing you a happy thanksgiving!

I keep bags of various KA flours on hand and use their all-purpose for all kinds of baking. I especially like it in yeast breads, and contrary to popular opinion bread flour isn't always the best flour for artisan breads. This flour does very well will slow rise doughs, like the no-knead bread or the 5 minute breads. Your biscuits look delish!

These look fabulous!

Mmmm... I'm still on the hunt for the perfect biscuit... which means I've gotta give these a try! They look wonderful!

Happy Thanksgiving, Lydia!

I like that this looks very easy to make. Happy Thanksgiving!

Paz XOXO

It's wonderful how even with the same recipe and ingredients, different cooks come out with different of the same thing!
These are gorgeous bisquits.
Happy Turkey (or whatever is on your table) Thanksgiving!

I discovered a love for buttermilk biscuits this year and made two batches (one for friends Thanksgiving one for family today) of herb buttermilk biscuits with rosemary and thyme - they were so delicious and fresh and absolutely going on my list of "will never use store bought again."

Somehow, the name all-purpose makes this seem a rather friendly flour. I don't normally buy self-raising flour, I just add baking powder to all-purpose, which incidently, makes the best batter for coating fried fish with - water, baking powder (a little more than usual) and all-purpose flour.

Love King Arthur flour! We've had lots of success with it.

Your biscuits look lovely. Now all we need is it topped with some...hamburger gravy...mmmm....

Happy Thanksgiving!

oh the wonder and beauty of buttermilk biscuits! I grated some Parmesan into a batch last week and they were so good it was probably impossible to repeat.

That is something I always have around, Lydia - and tons of it! :)

I don't have the biscuit gene either... I've taken to adding yeast to my biscuits just to help them along in the light and fluffy department.

Meeta, wish I could take credit for making these, but I did watch while my friend Lucia made them. Does that count?

Andrea, I'm so not a baker that all-purpose is really the best flour for me. I do buy other flours and use them for specific recipes, but failing any instruction, I always go for AP flour.

Helene, Michelle, Paz: Thank you -- these biscuits really were so good that we even enjoyed them cold the next morning.

MyKitchen, so true. When I try to make these, using the same ingredients and recipe, I end up with small boulders instead of fluffy biscuits.

Maris, those biscuits sound delicious. I'll have to remember that next summer when my herb garden is in full flower.

Neil, your comments brings back a particular memory of having batter-coated fish on my one visit to Australia, at (improbably) a restaurant in Alice Springs. Hmmmm.

White on Rice, yes, that whole biscuits in gravy thing -- much to recommend it. Leftover turkey gravy would be good, too.

Lobstersquad, cheese in biscuits is amazing, and makes them completely addictive. I couldn't stop eating them.

Patricia, with all the wonderful cookies you bake, I'm sure you buy the giant size bags of flour!

Julia, there should be a support group for people who lack the biscuit gene. I'll be first in line to sign up.

Those biscuits look amazingly tasty. Always looking for a good cheese biscuit recipe--I'm going to try this one.

ah! perfect with an afternoon cup of tea as well. looks so fluffy and literally jumping out of the screen. got to make this.

-jai

Kathy, they are the best biscuits that have ever been made in my kitchen. Now if only I'd been the one making, instead of the one watching....

Jai, yes, biscuits and tea. Lovely!

I'm a big fan of KA flour, although I have to admit that having a softer bleached alternative in White Lily is also nice to have for certain things :)

Jude, I remember when we couldn't even find King Arthur flours in the markets here, and the company is based in New England. Now there's a range of AP and organic flours in even the smallest supermarket. But White Lily is almost impossible to find. Don't know whether it's a distribution issue, a regional preference, or what.

I had two friends over on separate mornings the week before Thanksgiving and made biscuits for each one. I only use King Arthur or Hecker's unbleached flour for biscuits, quick breads and gravy. Biscuits are quick and easy to make for me - some times I make them with buttermilk, sometimes with evaporated milk which is what I grew up with in St. Louis much of the time. What makes my biscuits successful is - using my hands to cut in the shortening or butter (I can feel the consistency better than with a pastry cutter or two forlks) and making a well in the center of the flour mixture to pour the milk in just to the top of the well. Seems to work every time.
Now, I'm hungry for biscuits!

I can't afford KA Flours, although I enjoyed them immensley when we could. I do however have many flours and I almost always mix whole wheat with all purpose. I grind my own oat flour from store bought oats and it make nice light breads, pancakes, etc.

Those biscuits look tasty!

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