Monday, 13 July 2009

Biscuits or Scones

I used to enjoy those breakfast biscuits which were available during those good old days at the McDonalds outlets here. I can't remember when it happened...but the fast food chain has pull it off their menu for years. I was deprived of those buttery and fluffy biscuits until my very first visit to the States years later. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that those biscuits are still available at the outlets in the States. Since then, I would always make it a point to drop-by the chain whenever I visit the country. I even went to the extend to try baking these buttermilk biscuits from those pre-mix doughs that came in a can. I tried searching for these frozen doughs when I got home, but so far, I have never spotted them in any supermarts here. Somehow after many years, I thought I have totally lost the cravings for them. Little did I know that my dormant love affair with these American biscuits rekindled, right after our first visit to the Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits in California a few years back.

Of course we like the taste of Popeye's crispy, slightly spicy and yet very juicy and tender fried chickens. I think only our homegrown brand, Arnold's Fried Chicken come close enough. But it was Popeye's biscuits that I constantly craved for when we came back home. Indeed it was a 'love at first bite' affair with those biscuits. It was ironical that I was actually a little hesitant when I picked up the biscuit that was served along as sides. We checked out the first Popeye's outlet here at Changi Airport Terminal 1 not too long after our return. Sad to say, the biscuits just didn't taste right...even the chickens were not as tasty. When the Singapore Flyer was up, we didn't go for the ride, but instead headed straight to the Popeye's outlet. Once again, we were totally disappointed. Just two weeks ago, I tried the new outlet at Terminal 3. This time I had with me, a girl who has frequent the Popeye's joint ever since she was a first grader. She commented that the biscuits look "different", I think she was just being polite...I'm sure "weird" is a better adjective to describe those out-of-shape biscuits...they look more like those 'pop-overs' which I came across in many cookbooks. Both of us concluded that the chicken just doesn't taste as good.


To satiate my craving, I had on several occasions tried making my own homemade biscuits from scratch. However, I couldn't seems to be able to get it right. On my first attempt, my biscuits became dense bread buns as I was over zealously in kneading the dough. The second attempt yielded much softer 'buns', although edible, there were still no 'biscuits' in sight! I gave up hope after that, thinking that this is going to be my achilles’ heel, forever.

Thanks to this wonderful cookbook I found, I was able to make a decent batch of biscuits recently. They turned out almost perfect when I tried this same recipe the 3rd time. Although the author refers them to her Mama's Scones, they are really biscuits to me.

The biscuits were soft and fluffy...just the way I like them. They went well with anything...be it butter, cream cheese, strawberry jam and even kaya spread...especially when served warm from the oven :D



Mama's Scones/Biscuits

Ingredients:
(makes 7)

250g cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
one pinch of salt
50g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
30g caster sugar
1 egg plus enough fresh milk to make up 140ml



Method:
  1. Lightly beat the egg and add enough fresh milk to make up 140ml of liquid.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add in salt and sugar and whisk the dry ingredients together. With finger tips rub the COLD butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (It is important that the butter be cold so when it is cut into the flour mixture it becomes small, flour-coated crumbs. Due to our hot weather and my warm hands, I use a fork to work the butter into the dry ingredients. If the butter starts to melt away during this process, stop and place the mixture in the freezer for 10-15mins to prevent the butter from melting further. Continue the process when the mixture is well chilled.)
  3. Keep the mixing bowl (with the flour-butter mixture) in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  4. Remove bowl from fridge. Add the egg & milk mixture and stir until just combined. The mixture will be sticky, moist and lumpy. Gather up the mixture and place it on a lightly floured surface and give it a few light kneading (not more than 10 seconds) so that it comes together to form a dough. Do Not over work the dough. (Only mix the dough until it comes together. Too much kneading will cause gluten to develop, and the resulting biscuits will turn hard and chewy. Mix only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.)
  5. Place dough in a plastic bag or cover it with cling wrap. Keep dough in fridge for about 30mins. (The objective here is to keep the dough cold to prevent the butter from melting so that there will be little bits of dispersed butter in the dough. During baking, the heat will cause these tiny bits of butter to melt into the dough and leaves pockets and layers in the biscuits for them to rise nicely. If the butter melts or softens before baking, the resulting biscuits will be hard and flat.)
  6. On a lightly floured surface, dust your hands and the dough with some flour and pat out into 1 inch thickness (avoid using too much flour). Cut out the dough with a lightly floured 2.5-inch biscuit cutter (I use a drinking glass instead). In order for the biscuits to rise evenly, press the cutter directly down and lift it straight up without twisting. Dip the cutter into some flour after each cut. Gather scraps together and repeat until all the dough is used.
  7. Place cut biscuits on baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). For soft-sided biscuits, place them close together on the baking sheet so that the sides are touching. For crisp-sided ones, place them 1 inch apart, these will not rise as high as biscuits that are baked close together. Brush the tops with some milk.
  8. Bake at preheated oven at 200degC for about 13 - 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the biscuit comes out clean. The texture of the interior should be light and soft. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Recipe source:adapted from 爱上做面包, 德永久美子

50 comments:

  1. Baking gal13/7/09 1:43 pm

    Hi HHB

    This looks so delicious! However, I'm not very sure of the rub in method. Is there any website/video you know of that can help?

    Thanks!

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  2. i always enjoy reading your posts, and the detailed walk-through of your recipes. you make me feel like i am in your kitchen baking it together with you ....i like the feeling. thanks for sharing this recipes as scones is my all time fav. i will definitely try this out, the minute i get myself out of this "lazy-patch" that i am in at the moment. i have not gone near my oven for a while ....

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  3. Hi HHB,
    Nicely baked scones! This is always my favorite for breakfast or afternoon tea. I always make extra and keep in the freezer then reheat in the hot oven again when I crave for it. The crumbly, buttery and fluffy in the middle is wonderful! Adding some raisin and chopped walnut give it extra texture. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I shall try your recipe on my next scones baking. I wonder how did you get a nice photo shooting, it really make me hungry now. Cheers!

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  4. wah! look pretty and delicious! must try! Thanks!
    yuen :)

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  5. Wow.. this is definely one of my favourite. Whenever we drop by fourleaves, i will get a few of their assorted scones home and served it with freshy brew tea or coffee... so when see your this post.. i makes me even want to give your recipe a try :p Thanks for sharing... :)

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  6. I can see why she calls them scones, as they look very much like scones. =)Now you've gpt *me* craving them too. XD

    - Fai

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  7. Hi,

    Can you please explain on 'soft sided biscult' and 'crisp sided biscult'? I'm a bit confuse on this part.

    Thanks & Regards

    Rose

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  8. Your scones look really good there =)

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  9. Sounds easy for me to try, will update once I make this. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Hi HHB,
    Can I use cold milk and egg from the fridge?

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  11. your scones look lovely. mine failed big time.. but i love those freshly baked / warm scones outside at bistros served with jam.. slurp!!!

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  12. Hi HHB
    Is the recipe book you quoted from Taiwan? Could I have the ISBN?

    You bot it in Sin or from Taiwan?

    Thanks
    Irene

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  13. Hi Baking gal, I am sorry I have not watched any videos on the rubbing in method...but I am sure you will be able to find it from youtubes :)

    Thanks Skinnymum for your lovely comments :) I always feel that I am too long-winded...so much so that a simple recipe ended up looking so long and gave readers the impression that it will be something very difficult!

    Hi Grace, so these are scones? I want to make myself believe that they are biscuits ;)
    My photos are not that great...I simply point and shoot, I am hoping someone can teach me how to take better pictures!

    Hi Yuen, let me know when you try it, hope you will like it :)

    Ellena, I didn't known they sell scones at fourleaves! Will love to try them!

    Hi Fai, I thot they look like biscuits, since they are round, whereas scones are usually triangular, pardon my ignorant, I am a complete culinary idiot ;')

    Hi Rose, 'soft sided' refers to biscuits with a softer exterior, whereas 'crisp sided' will give a crusty exterior. Mine are "soft sided" since I baked the doughs close, almost sticking together.

    Hi Blessed Homemaker, can't wait to hear from you, hope you like them as much as I do :)

    Hi Wong, yes, you can. in fact all the ingredients should be cold, including the flour...especially for our hot weather here.

    Hi Irene, I'm sorry I don't have the ISBN as I don't own the book, I borrowed it from the library.

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  14. Hi HHB,

    It might be the flour....here in the south (Texas), we use White Lily flour to bake biscuits. It's bleached, low protein flour. On the bag it says that the flour is 15% lighter per cup in weight compared to regular flour.

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  15. Looks really delicious... maybe I will try making scones again since I have failed miserably everytime I did :-)

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  16. Hi HHB,
    Yes, there are scones which is exactly same as those English made scones I had in the UK. Look at your scones again make me feel want to have afternoon tea now :P

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  17. Hi HHB, from what I understand, scones are Scottish quickbreads. It is almost the equivalent of American biscuits. Scones use cold butter and the texture is flaky, biscuits are more crumbly, using shortening. Scones are for tea, biscuits are for breakfast. I'd say; serve them when you like. :p Yours look lovely! Pairing with lemon curd would be nice!

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  18. Found your blog while searching for scones. I remember the McDonalds biscuits and love them to bits! Was so sad when they took it off the menu :( I am not much of a baker but I am going to try this. Thank u!

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  19. HHB,

    Just to share with you and others, when I make scones, I chop the butter into small cubes, coat it with the flour and place them in a mini food processor. Add more flour and do three pulses. The end result came out awesome.

    I add them back into all the flour and whisk around before adding the liquid ingredients.

    This requires less chilling time or probably no chilling at all. I like it that your scones are nicely rise on all sides.

    Thumbs up!

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  20. it seems so good... so delicious...

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  21. In the UK scones are round. =] I've actually never seen triangular scones. =0 Interesting!

    - Fai

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  22. Your biscuits look so yummy and your photography is really lovely! =)

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  23. Hi HHB

    I was wondering if you know any good books which teaches baking techniques to beginning bakers like myself?

    I find that I'm still blur about how certain things should look like, the methods involved etc...

    Thanks!

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  24. Hello HHB!

    Love reading your blog and the scones look gorgeous! www.muffinsareuglycupcakes.wordpress.com Hope to read and learn more from your blog. Cheers!

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  25. Dear HHB

    Wow your photographic skill is admirable!
    I have been following your blog and your bakes are so professional, like those from hotels - simple and classy.
    Well done, keep it up!

    Florence

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  26. Hi Su, I read about the White Lily flour. We don't have it here, so instead of plain flour, I used cake flour which has got less protein content.

    Bergamot, I hope you will give it a try, I have failed several times before I got them right :)

    Hi Grace, hope you will give this a try and let me know whether they also tasted the same as the ones you had in UK :)

    Hi Rei, thanks for the information, I have been reading up the difference, maybe I'll write a post on the differences!

    Hi Sandie, I am glad to find someone who enjoyed those biscuits :D

    Hi Quinn, many thanks for the tip!
    I have read about using food processor to make scones and pastry. Too bad I don't have a food processor at home, otherwise making these will be a breeze!

    Hi Fai, oh really? I have seen triangular ones in several cookbooks ;D

    Thanks Anna!

    Hi Baking gal, I do not have any particular cookbooks to recommend. I only have a few cookbooks, I mainly borrow books from the library. Can you read Chinese or text in Traditional Chinese? and are you a local? If yes, than you can borrow those Chinese books written by Japanese authors (translated into Chinese). I love these books as they provide many step-by-step photos and illustrations. I picked up many things from these cookbooks. There are also many baking books written in English which teaches baking techniques. You can also read up from websites such as baking911.com or joyofbaking.com
    Hope this helps :)

    Hi feliciakhoot23, thanks for visiting!

    Thanks Florence, nah, I don't know much about photography ;p

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  27. Hahaha i think the scone fever is on. I done a batch last weekend too. Never like scones till I tasted the one near my house. That scone change my whole perception. Now I am constantly seeking for one that is similar. So far no luck. I will try yours real soon.

    As for the Popeye's, I have been there three times and it is always out of stock. Was already wondering are they really that good. You gave me the answer. From now on, I won't even bother with it.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  28. I love scones! Unfortunately the mister doesn't quite fancy them. In fact the first time he tried them was at the airport's Popeye, and for some reason, we got a bad batch. It was way too salty! Ever since then, he wouldn't touch biscuits/scones with a ten-foot pole.

    Ah wells, more for me then!

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  29. Baking gal17/7/09 5:48 pm

    Hi HHB

    Thanks for your advice. =)

    I'm making so many mistakes that I dunno where to start correcting. Sigh.. Perhaps you can share the books in chinese with me? I'm Singaporean and Chinese but reading in Chinese does take a lot of effort from me. Haha..

    Will def be making a trip to the library soon!

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  30. I have passed you the 'Kreativ Blogger Award'. Check my blog to see what it's all about. :)

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  31. Hi There,

    I've tried this recipe today. The texture turn out to be good, but I was wondering how did you get the golden top when you only brush it with Milk. I followed exactly but my scones turned out pale and not golden brown. I then brush egg wash and let it bake for like 5 min to get some brown top. Overall, I think it's an easy and great recipe.

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  32. Hi SSB, thanks for the award :D

    Hi hushling, I think it is the type of fresh milk I used. It is quite sweet, maybe the higher suger content in the milk cause my scones to turn golden brown; also the heating elements is located on the top of my oven, the tops of my bakes tend to brown faster.

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  33. thanks so much for sharing this! made my day ;) I must try it sometime ^o^!

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  34. Your scones do look lovely, but if you want an even lighter, melt in the mouth texture, try using cream instead of milk. Buttermilk also makes the scones mire tender.

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  35. Hi Chun, hope you will like these :)

    Hi Jasmine, thanks so much for your useful tips :D I have tried baking biscuits with buttermilk, but I didn't have luck then. I hope I will be able to get it right the next time!

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  36. Hello HHB,

    I have baked this scones last few days and it turn out great. My daughter eat 3 of it at one go!! lol~ Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe, appreciate it!

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  37. Hi HHb

    do u think i can make the dough in advance, then bake it in the morning? or can i bake it at night, keep at room temp, then reheat in microwave?
    thks
    octopusmum

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  38. Hi Octopusmum, yes, you can make the dough in advance and bake them in the morning.

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  39. Hi HHB
    thks, will give it a try soon!
    regards
    octopusmum

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  40. hello!

    hope you can help me a little bit :)
    i made the scones today, but they won't brown nicely.

    how to ensure that their top is brown while the insides are still soft? hope you can advise me on this, thanks! :)

    sl

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  41. Hi sl, Sorry, I am not sure how to go about it as I am no expert in baking. I brushed fresh milk on the surface of the scones before baking. I guess the fresh milk I used has got alot more sugar, so it browned easily. Did you brush the scones with milk? maybe you can try brush with egg (mix 1 egg with 1 tbs of water/milk).

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  42. ive been told the secret to southern biscuit is lard. i've tried this recipe with some success, tho i think it's a little lighter than ones found in mcdonald and the like.

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Angel-Biscuits-I/Detail.aspx

    nice looking scone/biscuits...

    mura

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  43. I just tried yr recipe today & is LOVING it! both hubby & MIL loved it too! Tks for sharing such detailed instruction too!

    http://irene-retrenchee.blogspot.com/2009/08/mums-scones-biscuits.html

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  44. Hi i love scones to bits and would like to try this. Can i use plain flour instead of cake flour? I dont see cake flour on the shelf in Australia....thanks in advance!

    ...Lilacz

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  45. Hi Lilacz, you can try substituting cake flour with plain flour by adding some corn flour to it, see this site: (http://www.joyofbaking.com/IngredientSubstitution.html). If that is not possible, you may try with plain flour, but I am really not sure whether it will have any effect on the finished scones.

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  46. This recipe sounds great, I've always loved both biscuits and scones but haven't tried making them myself. I'll give this one a try next weekend, they sound perfect with a cold fall morning. :)

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  47. Hi HHB,

    I tried out this recipe but my scones taste bitter. Any ideas what could have gone wrong?

    First trial.

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  48. Hi Anonymous, I think the bitter taste is due to the baking powder, you may have added too much, or it was not combined well with the flour mixture.

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  49. Hai HHB,

    Today i made this scone, i never eat it before, but bcos ur trusted recipe, i made it, n I LOVE IT :D --> http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs395.snc3/24028_1393689319090_1137880303_1680992_3629632_n.jpg not as good as yours, but it is really crunchy outside n soft inside. a Keeper recipe, thx alot for ur kind to sharing ^^. Lov u =)

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  50. Hi chuany, I am glad you like these scones! Your scones look lovely too :)

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