Sunday, January 29, 2012

Southern Pecan Biscuits

These biscuits are very nearly scones. But I'm calling them biscuits because there's no sugar in the dough. And because I'm working on a pretty amazing Maple Pecan Scone recipe, which I'll post here as soon as it's perfect. For now, these biscuits really hit our spot with a little butter and a side of scrambled eggs for a simple, but sufficiently special Sunday breakfast. (Plus an afternoon treat with coffee. Gotta love a baked good that can work double duty!)

2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TB ground flaxseed
3 TB cold butter, cut into pieces
1 TB Crisco vegetable shortening
1 1/4 c. cold low-fat vanilla yogurt
2/3 c. chopped pecans, toasted

1 TB half & half
1 TB maple syrup
1 TB decorating sugar (or Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper. Go ahead and toast the pecans first, so they have plenty of time to cool -- 3 or 4 minutes stovetop on medium heat, until fragrant and golden. (You don't want to mix hot nuts into your biscuit batter, melting the butter & shortening.) Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. You can use up to 1 c. whole wheat flour, but any more than that, and you risk a heavy biscuit. Add ground flax seed (this is really an optional ingredient, but it ups the nutrition a bit, and adds nicely to the nutty flavor). 

Add cold butter and vegetable shortening. Cut in with a pastry cutter, fork or two knives, or even your fingers until mixture resembles course crumbs. Again, do this quickly so as not to melt the fats. If you keep butter in the freezer, like I do... You can even grate it in, with a cheese grater.

Mix in the toasted pecans. Make a well in the center and add the yogurt. Stir with just a few big strokes, until dough just holds together. Don't over mix. Turn onto floured board and knead about 3 times, just until it's all sticking together. Pat into a rectangle, and fold the top down, bottom up, like a letter. Pat back into a rectangle and do the letter fold one more time. Finally, pat or roll into rectangle about the size of a sheet of paper, and ~3/4'' thick.

Using 2'' biscuit cutter or a small Mason jar, cut 12 biscuits. Reform the scraps, and cut four more biscuits -- reformed dough won't rise the same, but such is life, right? The resulting biscuits still taste good!

Mix 1 TB half & half with 1 TB maple syrup and brush on tops of biscuits. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake for 12-14 minutes on middle rack, until golden brown. Serve with butter.

P.S. Don't be surprised if I re-post this recipe weekend soon, with a re-make of these biscuits including crumbled breakfast sausage... I think... yes.

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