Biscuits the Swedish way

Today is a fire day, which makes me yearn for my mother’s buttermilk biscuits. Fattening, rich, divine. Hot out of the oven, cold, or lovingly warmed within a thin towel inside a steamer on the stove. (Heathens use a microwave. It hardens the biscuit and toughens the texture, when then turns to rubber. retreat! retreat!)

I like to call these the 10-minute wow food. Not sure why guests are so incredibly impressed with a food product so simple. Perhaps it’s because these divine little beasts are as flakey and beautiful as they are delish. If I were my sister, I’d whip up a batch right now so I could show pics. Sadly, I’m out of buttermilk, as well as the substitute (sour cream+milk). My party the other night consumed all three, and I’m not wanting to venture out. sorry. next time I make them-in a few days I’ll post shots. Otherwise, I’ll wait until my sister and mom give it a whirl and I’ll steal the photos.

The key ingredients-butter of course, high-quality salted is my preference, organic buttermilk, fully leaded (none of this low fat stuff). The key tool is a divider (see pic). I have several types, it doesn’t make a difference in the outcome. I use what’s clean at the time.

Baking is key. While golden brown top is cosmetically appealing, these babies are more moist when barely a hint of color is on the top. Unlike most dinner roll recipes, that call for a thin swipe of butter on the top, these don’t need it. They are loaded with the stuff and flake perfectly.

To be fair, this recipe came from the Olson Family Cookbook (an internal document, guarded with the secrecy of Microsoft’s code set). I have three pages turned: the buttermilk biscuits, Swedish pancakes, the  Giblet turkey stuffing, swedish holiday potato sausage (double yum) and cornstarch bread pudding. What this really means is that I’ve used all five so many times I’ve memorized the pages, and actually have to use the book for all other recipes.

Now that I’m on page itself (pg 30, if you can’t rip one from the hands of a dead relative) was actually submitted my none other than my mom. I hope she doesn’t get mad.

5 Tbs butter, cold
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda

This makes about 12 or so. Double the recipe. You’ll eat 6 yourself.

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl (don’t sift). Cut in the butter, mix with the divider until the pieces resemble peas.
Turn the though on to a floured board. Keep additional flour handy.
Knead it gently for about a 1/2 minute.
Pat the dough to the thickness of 1/4 inch.
Cut with a biscuit cutter (the round, metal cookie cutters sold at every Target or cooking shop)
Bake 10-12 minutes.

NOTE: A righteous debate has evolved in our immediate family about the merits of rolling vs not rolling. It’s equivalent to heresy. For generations, the dough has been “patted,” not flattened with a rolling pin. The logic was that the more “movement” of the dough, the higher likelihood that the biscuits will turn out more like hockey pucks, hard and flat, than a nice, flakey bread product. So, for years, I’ve abided by this simple rule, invariably patting vs rolling, only failing when I over-handled the dough.

Along comes my sister, who bettered us. She defied tradition, and kneaded the bread for a solid 5 minutes, about as long as one would need dinner rolls. Mind you, she didn’t use a rolling pin at all–hand-kneading is the skill of moving the bread together on either side, flipping it, pushing down, then flipping it again, so all corners/sides of the bread are engaged. Hence, the requirement for the flour.

Her results were amazing. Not only did the biscuit rise higher, it was also flakier.

When I have time, I’ll go with her method. All other times, I whip these up when guests have already arrived, pop them in the oven when the other food is resting or cooling. Just before guests are going to sit down at the dinner table, I’ll put the biscuits in the oven and serve piping hot biscuits with dinner.

A word to the wise–these don’t do well when sitting on the counter, pre cooked. It’s sometimes a pain, but the prep and cook need to be done one after the other, not with hours in between. The result are hard, crusty biscuits–the anti-biscuit if you will.

Make sure to have lots of soft butter and jam available. I almost always sneak in 1 or 2 of these before I serve them, because I love them piping hot. Enjoy.