This section is from the book "Experimental Cookery From The Chemical And Physical Standpoint", by Belle Lowe. Also available from Amazon: Experimental cookery.
Baking Powder Biscuits Experiment 83.
To determine the factors that influence the texture of baking powder biscuits.
2 2/3 cups
3/4 to 1 cup
50.0 grams 188.0 to 244 grams
12 grams 2 grams
Directions for combining.
Sift the baking powder with the flour. Add the fat and the salt. The fat may be combined with the flour by a fat-flour blender or by using the tips of the fingers. Portions of the fat and flour are picked up and rubbed quickly between the fingers, then dropped and other portions of the flour picked up. The lifting of the portions of the flour and fat mixture makes it more light and fluffy. Avoid mixing until a hard fat is melted and the mixture looks oily and compact. After the fat is mixed with the flour, form a cavity in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the milk in this cavity and begin to stir. The stirring may be done with a fork or a spoon. The following directions are for mixing with a three-tined fork, as the fork seems to leave the dough lighter and more fluffy than a spoon. After the milk has been mixed for the designated amount with the flour mixture, remove the ball of dough from the mixing bowl with a spatula and place it on a thin layer of flour on a bread board. Handle the dough gently and roll it without compressing it in the flour, until the sticky surface is covered. Remove to a lightly floured part of the bread board. "Lightly floured" means with a very thin layer of flour. Knead the dough gently the amount specified and place an embroidery hoop over the dough. Roll and then cut with biscuit cutters of the same size for all the experiments. The embroidery hoop is used so that the biscuit dough will be the same thickness and the volume of the biscuits can be compared. Bake at 220° to 230°C. (425° to 455°F.). The dough, instead of being kneaded, can be lightly flattened into a square. Fold once and roll. Repeat 3 more times.
A. To determine the best proportion of liquid for the flour used in this experiment.
Brand of flour used:
The flours most often used in some sections of the United States are from soft-wheat flours. Other sections use bread flour. Since the proportion of liquid that gives the best flavor, texture, and the most tender biscuit varies with different flours it will be necessary to determine this first.
Prepare the full recipe. After the fat has been mixed with the flour divide into four portions, using 87 grams in each part.
1. To part one add 61 grams of milk. The water of the milk is equivalent to about 70 per cent of the weight of the flour. Stir 30 strokes with a three-tined fork. By this time the dough should be in a ball. Remove the dough with a spatula, roll in flour, and knead 10 times. Roll and cut.
2. Repeat 1, but to part two add 55 grams of milk, about 64 per cent of liquid.
3. Repeat 1, but to part three add 51 grams of milk, about 60 per cent.
4. Repeat 1, but to part four add 47 grams of milk, about 55 per cent of liquid.
B. To determine the amount of manipulation that gives a biscuit of the best texture and volume for a drop biscuit.
1. Prepare 1/3 of the recipe. Use a tartrate baking powder. Use the proportion of milk found best under A. Mix 20 strokes with a three-tined fork. Remove 30 grams of the dough, weighing on a piece of wax paper and then remove to the baking sheet.
2. Mix the remaining dough from 1 a total of 25 strokes. Remove 30 grams for a biscuit.
3. Mix the remaining dough from 2 a total of 30 strokes. Remove 30 grams of dough for one biscuit.
4. Mix the remaining dough from 3 a total of 35 strokes. Remove 30 grams for a fourth biscuit.
5. Mix the remaining dough from 4 a total of 100 strokes. Bake 30 grams for a fifth biscuit.
C. Repeat B, but use a phosphate baking powder.
D. Repeat B, but use S.-P. baking powder.
E. To determine the amount of manipulation to give a rolled biscuit of the best volume and texture.
a1. Prepare 1/2 of the recipe, using the proportion of milk found best under A. Mix 30 strokes with a three-tined fork. Remove to the bread board. Divide into thirds. Knead 1/3 of the dough lightly 10 times, place an embroidery hoop over the dough, roll and cut.
2. Knead 1/3 of the dough from 1, 20 times, roll and cut.
3. Knead of the dough from 1, 30 times, roll and cut.
bl. Prepare 1/3 of the recipe, using the proportion of milk found best under A. Mix 20 strokes with a three-tined fork. Remove 1/3 of the dough and knead 10 times. Roll and cut.
2. Stir the remaining dough from 4 a total of 30 strokes. Remove 1/2 of the dough and knead 10 times. Roll and cut.
3. Stir the remaining dough from 5 a total of 40 strokes. Knead 10 times, roll and cut.
F. To determine the proportion of fat that gives a biscuit of the best flavor and texture.
1. Prepare of the recipe. Use the proportion of milk found best under A and the amount of mixing found best under E.
2. Repeat Fl, but decrease the fat to 37.5 grams for the full recipe.
3. Repeat F1, but increase the fat to 75 grams for the full recipe.
Section F can be repeated and such different kinds of fat as butter, lard, hydrogenated lard, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and oil used.
G. To determine the best temperature for baking biscuits when different types of baking powders are used.
1. Prepare 1/4 of the recipe. Use the proportion of milk found best under A, and the amount of mixing found best under E. Use a tartrate baking powder. Divide the dough into three biscuits and bake one at 190° to 195°C. (375° to 385°F.), one at 220° to 225°C. (425° to 435°F.), and one at 240° to 250°C. (465° to 480°F.).
2. Repeat G1, but use a phosphate baking powder. Do the results under C indicate that the amount of mixing should be changed for a phosphate baking powder?
3. Repeat G1, but use S.-P. powder. Should the amount of mixing be increased for this type of baking powder? See D.
Which proportion of milk gives the best volume and the best texture? Would this be the best proportion for all kinds and grades of flour? Why? Might there be slight differences in the hydration capacity of the same flour at various times of the year? Why? Should you use more or less water in biscuits to produce the same result when water is substituted for milk? Why? What amount of mixing gives the best texture with each baking powder? What is the effect of kneading upon the texture? Is it desirable? What amount of kneading and stirring gives the best texture for the flour you are using? Which proportion of fat produces the best flavor and texture? If the amount of fat in the recipe is increased, should the liquid be increased or decreased? Do you find much difference in the baking temperatures required for the different baking powders? Theoretically, which temperature should be best for each powder?
Results and conclusions.
Suggestions for Additional Experiments for Biscuits
1. Repeat A, B, and E with a different type of flour, i.e., soft- instead of hard-wheat or vice versa; whole-wheat or part whole-wheat and part white flour.
2. Repeat A, B, and E with sour milk or water.
3. Use the different types of baking powders and hold biscuits in the refrigerator for several hours before baking.
4. Increase the baking powder in the recipe to 14, 16, or 18 grams. Does it improve the texture? The flavor?