Recently, we had Mollie Katzen’s new book, The Heart of the Plate, checked out of the library, so we were looking through it to find some new ideas to try out (remember, the Chard Wrapped Polenta was from her book), and we came across this recipe. Doesn’t it sound good? Rosemary and walnuts in a biscuit is worth a trial run in the Scratchin’ It Test Kitchen. Definitely.
Now, we’ll say right up front that we’re quite particular when it comes to biscuits. They need to be light and fluffy, with layers. Invariably, that means cutting in butter and working the dough with the lightest of touches. Then into a hot oven for a quick bake and browning on top. Whereas, this recipe doesn’t have any of that. No butter, the dough is made in a food processor, and the oven temperature is moderate. Will that make for a good biscuit?
We’ll post the original recipe, but note that the photos will show a half-batch recipe, which is a more reasonable amount for two people.
Makes 36 small biscuits.
You’ll note that we refer you to a scratched version of buttermilk. Why? Because then you’re in control. You choose if you want organic, if you want whole milk, 1% milk, or fat-free. Plus, you can avoid the salt and carrageenan (seaweed extract) that some producers use to make a thicker, saltier buttermilk. For the olive oil, use something you like, as you’ll have some olive oil flavor in the resulting biscuits. For rosemary, if you have fresh, substitute a tablespoon for the teaspoon of dried.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine dry ingredients. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, walnuts, and rosemary. Give it a five to six good pulses to mix everything together and grind the nuts. Stop when it looks like a coarse meal. We find it very handy to set the food processor in the sink when we pulse flour, as some of the flour invariably shoots out around the lid.
Whisk oil and buttermilk. We used a measuring cup with a pour spout, but a small bowl will work, too. Whatever you use, whisk together the olive oil and buttermilk into an emulsion. It should take only a minute of whisking.
Add oil and buttermilk. Flip the processor to on, and slowly pour in the olive oil and buttermilk emulsion. The dough will quickly come together and ride on the blade, which is your indication to stop processing.
Shape biscuits. Scrape the dough onto a clean, lightly floured, work surface and press it into a rectangular shape about 1/2 inch thick. The dough is very soft at this stage, so this is easy. Use a knife or a dough scraper to cut the rectangle into 1-inch squares and transfer the biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet. You can place the biscuits very close together.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake until a light golden brown around the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before serving.
We really liked the idea of these biscuits. Come on, how could you go wrong with walnuts and rosemary? Well, truthfully, this is one way. First, these were not biscuits, by any means; instead, they were like a poorly-made quick bread — they had a crumbly texture, rather than a flaky light texture. As far as flavor goes, one could taste the rosemary, but nothing from the walnuts. Yes, you could taste the olive oil, and perhaps that was part of the problem, as it might have overwhelmed the walnuts. Perhaps using butter (cut in) instead of olive oil would help. When it comes to biscuits, we’ll stick to the tried and true versions. They may be slightly more trouble, but they produce a vastly superior biscuit. Two stars.