Cathead Biscuits (Say what?)

Before I explain how I found this recipe and why these biscuits have an odd title-- I want all of you to know how much I miss being unable to post recipes on my food blog! My long stretches of not posting dishes I've prepared for my family is simply that I am rarely home to cook or bake.  I have a new job (same school district). My day begins with a 6am wake-up (which is mostly done under a hot streaming shower).  I'm out the door by 8am and home around 9:45pm.  Sure, I have a four hour break (my first split-shift job ever).  But, when you live 50 miles away, round-trip, driving home each day isn't my first choice. So, I'm easing back to working at a spa and trying to get my chops back as an esthetician.   So, as you can see, cooking/baking and photographing isn't going to be as frequent as I'd like-- for at least a year.   Once winter comes, my slow cooker might become my new best friend-- but this is summer.  I'm all about grilling and losing winter pounds.  Please know that I haven't been able to visit my favorite blogs, let alone about to reply to your lovely comments. I read them, and I appreciate them.  So, about this recipe:

This recipe was printed in the April 2010 issue of Cook's Country Magazine (Cook's Illustrated).  I am just now getting around to sharing it with you. This is the same issue where I found the recipe for Creamy Asparagus Soup.  The soup is fast, delicious and one of my top favorites.  My family says I make the best soups (and I thank them).  However, they also expect some kind of bread with their soup.  As I was making the aforementioned soup, I realized I didn't have bread on hand.  I decided to try this recipe.  Now, I'm a California girl. I'm not a Southern Belle, nor am I a Texas resident. Therefore, my disclaimer is that I am neither a big fan of biscuits nor do I think I'd win blue ribbons for my biscuit making skills.  Actually, I think I've only made biscuits (from scratch) once before.  Croissants? Yes, I love them.  I have yet to make those from scratch, and I don't see that anytime in the near future-- I know what work and how much butter that entails.  Homemade Buttery yeast rolls? You bet! Biscuits? Eh. The article that came with the recipe intrigued me, and so I decided to test my waters as a biscuit baker:
Cat Head Biscuits

When we spied ?cat head biscuits? on a highway billboard near Greensboro, N.C., we did an immediate double take (not to mention a U-turn) to see what exactly they were. Aside from an unfortunate name, the biscuits themselves were tender and moist with a golden brown, craggy exterior and well worth reproducing back in the test kitchen. Here?s what we discovered:

Test Kitchen Discoveries

Traditional cat heat biscuit recipes were made with lard, but most modern recipes use shortening instead. We found shortening alone to be too artificial tasting, so we substituted most of the shortening for butter.

To create a more tender biscuit, use an equal mix of cake flour and all-purpose. Most biscuit recipes call for cold fat, which is ?cut? into the dry ingredients to promote a flaky texture. Because we were after a fluffy texture, softened butter and shortening worked in with warm hands worked much better.

There?s no need to knead this biscuit dough; just use a portion scoop to scoop out hefty lumps into a cake tin.

MIX DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9-inch cake pan. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Rub with fingers Using my food processor, I pulsed the butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk until combined.  (As you can see, I have a love affair with my Cuisinart. Use your hands, as Cook's Country did.  I'll still love you.) I like to add parchment paper; I buy pre-cut round parchment paper at King Arthur Flour. Use a greased 1/2-cup measure or large spring-loaded ice cream scoop to transfer 6 heaping portions of dough into prepared pan, placing 5 around pan?s perimeter and 1 in center.

This was so quick, that I was smiling at how effortless this was to make.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve.

VERDICT: While I cannot resist a yeast roll, I was pleased with how easy these are to make. They were, indeed, tender (even though I used a food processor).  My family loves to dunk rolls into soup, and these were well-liked.  I liked them, but I'll still go for the Pioneer Woman's Buttered Rosemary Rolls before any kind of biscuit.  Just sayin'!   If YOU love biscuits, give these a try. They're fast and easy. I'd make this recipe, again, but would be very tempted to add some fresh chives and even some cheese.

 In the meantime, I like butter and honey.  Yeah, that will do just fine!

I couldn't resist posting this photo.  I was comparing the biscuits to one of our geriatric felines. This is our own sweet "Cat Head" -- "Camo".  She and her sister are almost 13 years old now.

My four-hour break is almost over, so I need to head back to Pacific Grove, CA.  While I miss my long summer vacations of the past, I'm happy to say that I'm working with the nicest group of teachers and staff.  Still, I so miss not being able to post recipes as often as I used to. I have at least a dozen recipes I want to share with you.  Hopefully, I'll post one or two on the weekends.  I'll adjust to this very different work schedule.  I can promise you that I have no intentions of giving up on this food blog! I love sharing recipes with my friends and family.  I will try to pop in and see what the rest of you have been making in your own kitchens.  A printable recipe is posted at the bottom of this page.

Back to work!

                                Cat Head Biscuits from Cook's Country        From Cook’s Country April 2010. These biscuits are a breeze to make, tender and…well, about the size of a cat’s head!
            See Cat Head Biscuits from Cook's Country on Key Ingredient.    
JUMP to my blog site to view and print these recipes, please!

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