"And the world cannot be
discovered by a journey of
miles, no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual
journey, a journey of one
inch, very arduous and
humbling and joyful, by
which we arrive at the
ground at our own feet, and
learn to be at home."
Martin Philip worked in finance in New York City, but he gave all of that up to become a professional baker in rural Vermont. Breaking Bread is Philip's memoir of his journey into bread-baking, told in seventy-five recipes.
Look at that kvassmiche Martin Philip is holding on the cover of his book. Isn't that beautiful? Open the book and you will find recipes for other beautiful wonders like Citrus Vollkornbrot and Powerbrot and Pain de Mie and Sourdough Miche.
The recipes for these breads provide directions for each day's work on the bread. All of these take at least two days to make. Philip gives formulas for weighing the ingredients and measuring the temperature of the ingredients.
These seemed a bit daunting.
Kvassmiche is what I hoped to make. And I still hope to make it one day. Just not yet.
Instead, I decided to try some of Martin Philip's simpler recipes, those at the beginning of his journey. Cornmeal Drop Biscuits. Mama's Bread. Corn Grit Hoecakes. And this one, at the very start of the book, for Butter Biscuits.
Yield: Ten to twelve 2 1/2 inch biscuits
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
1 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
Position an oven rack on a rung in the top third of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Lightly grease a 13 x 18-inch sheet pan, or line it with parchment paper.
Cut the butter into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Chill until use.
Weigh and chill the dry ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add the cold butter and toss to coat with the dry ingredients. Then press the butter slices between your thumb and forefinger into small flat pieces or "leaves."
Add the buttermilk all at once and mix gently until the mixture is just combined. The dough should be firm and bare cohesive (some dry bits are okay).
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. The dry bits will incorporate in the next steps.
Fold the dough in thirds as you would a letter and gently roll or pat it into a rectangle. Repeat this fold-and-roll process once more if the dough isn't cohesive.
Lightly flour the top of the dough and cut the dough into circles with a sharp 2-inch biscuit cutter.
Place the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan.
Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating after 14 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.
You will never taste a better biscuit. Flaky. Buttery. Delicious.
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