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Posts Tagged ‘shortening’

I’ve never broken a bone in my life.  Never a fracture, never a sprain.  Probably because I’m too much of a scaredy-cat to partake in the majority of activities that would result in such pain.  But our friend Chris managed to break three bones in her leg while on a walk with her beloved Golden Retreiver, Beanie.  She stepped in a gopher hole and was down-for-the-count.  One…two…three.  She said that she heard the pop before she even realized what was happening.  Ugh.  But she’s a trooper.  One of those eternally happy people.  In fact, we had her ordained for a day so she could marry us.

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That’s how great she is.

Her cozy little house has too many narrow turns and nooks and crannies for her wheelchair to be a viable option, so she’s left to hop around on one foot, pushing her walker ahead of her.  (Maybe it should be called a Hopper in this case?)  For the time being, cooking is pretty much impossible, and since her husband finds it impossible too, we took it upon ourselves to bring her sandwich makings and a heat-and-serve dinner.  A few days later we showed up on her door step with dinner ingredients and beer.  We grilled lamb-kabobs and zucchini, and served them with tzatziki and an orzo salad.  All around, pretty good.

But I also made strawberry shortcake for dessert.  And those biscuits?  Really good.  Now, before I go any further, I’d like to mention that I didn’t think these were the best biscuits for strawberry shortcake, mostly because they’re much better warm than room temperature.  But the next morning I put them under the broiler for a quick reheat and served them with butter and home-made plum jam.  I couldn’t have been happier.  They were fabulous.  I want to make them again right now.  And maybe tomorrow too.  And maybe the next day too?

Shirley Corriher’s Touch of Grace Biscuits adapted by Rose Levy Beranbaum from the Pie and Pastry Bible
yeilds 9 2-1/2 by 2-inch high biscuits (though mine yielded 19 smaller biscuits)

The recipe recommends using a #30 (2 Tablepoon) cookie scoop, but I think that may actually be too small, as it yielded twice as many biscuits!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (I used Spectrum organic)
  • 1-1/4 liquid cups heavy cream or buttermilk (or a combo) (I used all cream)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour for coating
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch square pyrex dish.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and set an oven rack at the middle level.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Add the shortening in 1-teaspoon-size pieces and, with your fingertips, work the shortening into the flour until pea-size or smaller.  Mix in the cream and/or buttermilk.  The mixture will be very soft, like mashed potatoes.  Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes; it will stiffen slightly.

Place 1 cup of all-purpose flour in a small pan.  Using a #30 cookie scoop, or a large spoon, scoop out a biscuit-size lump of wet dough (a heaping spoonful) and drop it onto the flour.  Sprinkle the top lightly with some of the flour, then pick up the biscuit and shape it into a round, gently shaking off any excess flour.  (Hold the biscuit in your left hand, with your fingers partially closed so that thumb and index finger form the letter C;  with your right hand, tamp down the top of the dough so that the biscuit is 1 inch high and 2 inches in diameter.)

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As soon as it is shaped, place the biscuit in the baking pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the biscuits snugly up against each other so that the soft dough rises up instead of spreading sideways.

Brush the biscuits with the melted butter and place them in the oven.  Immediately raise the heat to 500 degrees and bake for 5 minutes.  Lower the heat to 475 degrees and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, until the tops are lightly brown.  Allow the biscuits to cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes before unmolding them onto a plate.  Split the biscuits in half, preferably using a fork.

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p4130061Oh, the possibilities of rhubarb!  I’m hoping to keep nursing this crown into a big, healthy plant so that I can have rhubarb accessible whenever I want it.  It’s a perennial and will stick around for a number of years.  I’m trying to figure out exactly where, in the garden, it should go.  The leaves will get huge- about 1 foot wide, and are really beautiful contrasted against the red stems.

The recipe I always think of when rhubarb comes in to season, is my grama’s rhubarb cake.  I’ll have to ask her where it came from, but I know that my dad loved it as a kid, so the recipe has been around for quite a while.

It’s the simplest cake to make, and really doesn’t need icing.  In fact, the cake is so moist that the addition of frosting is almost overboard!  Though a dollop of lightly-sweetened whipped cream is awfully good with it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been known to bake it in 2 round cake pans to make a layered cake, frosting and all, but it doesn’t really need all that work to make it good. This is the kind of cake that’s nice eaten with a cup of tea mid-morning because it isn’t overly sweet, and it has those little bits of tart rhubarb in it to balance it all out.  Also, the cake just gets moister the next day so long as it’s covered tightly, so you can have it with your tea over and over again!

Rhubarb Cake
yields  one 9×13 pan, two- 9” rounds, or four- 6” rounds

This cake also works beautifully with strawberries cut in to similarly sized pieces.

  • 1-½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup shortening (I use Spectrum organic shortening, which is made using palm oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk with 1 tsp baking soda stirred into it
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-½ cups raw rhubarb cut into ¼” pieces
  • Topping: ½ Tablespoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar, stirred together

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan. Cream the sugar and shortening. Add the egg and mix to combine. Separately, combine the buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla. Separately, combine the flour and salt. In alternate doses,  mix the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Just before the last bit of flour is fully absorbed, stir in the rhubarb. Don’t over-mix. Pour batter into baking vessel and spread to the edges using a spatula.  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top and bake for approximately 40 minutes if you’re using the 9×13 glass dish. For smaller pans, you may need to decrease the baking time.

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