Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Great Biscuit Experiment That Wasn't

Following my disappointing attempt to make biscuits with freshly milled soft white wheat, I kept pondering the solution.  I thought about Grainlady's recommendation that I decrease the milk or increase the flour in the recipe to adjust for the lesser protein content of the pastry flour.  I wondered which would work best, since, it seemed both would interfere with the balance of ingredients in the recipe, but in different ways.  I decided to try one batch using each approach.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Batch #1:  I decided to try decreasing the milk first.  But when I decreased the milk from 2/3 cup to 1/2 cup, the dough was way too dry.  I added more milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until I was up to the originally specified 2/3 cup, when the dough seemed just right.  Hmm.                                                                                                                                                                                          
Batch #2:  This was the one for which I was going to add extra flour, so I was able to go through the recipe, as written, with the plan to add flour to the end result when/if it was too moist, like last week.  Nope.  It was just right again.  So I have to assume 'user error' for last week's report, even though I'm not sure what I did wrong that resulted in the particularly wet dough.  I measured carefully, I promise.  But I must've messed up a bit somewhere.
Batches 1 & 2 were about the same, of course
So I went ahead and baked both batches, hoping the rising problems would be remedied also, by the dough  being of the proper consistency.
They puffed a little, but still looked rounded, and not at all tall.  They were crispy and had good flavor, but were crumbly instead of soft and flaky inside....A little gritty.                                                                                            
I was still assuming that this heavier, flatter biscuit was due to the whole wheat pastry flour, so I moved on to a third batch using unbleached all-purpose flour, so I could show you what beautiful biscuits I could make with that.                                                                                                                                                                
Batch #3
Batch #3:  The dough mixed, as expected, and not much differently than the day's prior 2.  
But the baking result wasn't what I expected.  These rose a bit more, but still not to the heights I am used to.  Now I think I blamed the soft wheat flour for what might be caused by lackluster baking powder, improper cutting 
technique (I used a glass instead of a cutter, but I always grab something handy and of the size I want), or some other variable.                                                                                                                          
One good thing in all of this is that I was afraid the soft wheat flour might not be worth messing with if I had to adjust every recipe for the different moisture absorption.  This now doesn't seem to be a given necessity.  I should be able to use it as any other flour in most appropriate recipes. (Those would be ones without the need for gluten development...quick breads, cookies, cakes, muffins, waffles and pancakes.)                                                                                           
Left: All-purpose flour.
Right: White soft wheat flour
I don't have all the answers yet, and will keep working to solve this mystery in order to show you the biscuit result I'm used to.  I just didn't want to leave you with the impression that soft white wheat flour was likely to be problematic in your favorite recipes.           

Previous related post:
Soft Wheat 
Room for Improvement, Part II


  1. I like that photo with the side by side comparison. I agree with you that it may be your baking powder is starting to quit on you. I'd try it again with a new container of b.p. and see if that doesn't fix the rise.

  2. These look delicious! And I admire anyone who can make any type of bread from scratch. I would've run to KFC a looong time ago. ;)

  3. That's what I get for buying the big vats of baking powder at Costco. Maybe it's just been around too long.

    Biscuits are fun to make...and much easier than I'm making them look in this post... I hope I'm not scaring anyone off of baking!

  4. Maybe they're not exactly as hoped, but they still look delicious! I'm such a carb-aholic. I could live on baguettes and biscuits.

  5. Baguettes are Thursday's post! I guess it's a high-carb week. ;-)

    I'm not into carbs, for the most part, but Sourdough, biscuits, and pie are my big temptations.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...