Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Alton Brown Ruined Christmas

So, it's Christmas Eve in the Glass Needle house and plans for Christmas dinner are not yet finalized. You see, plans were up in the air as we awaited the arrival of a new bundle of joy and we wanted to be set for a Christmas Baby (Baby arrived on the 5th Day of Christmas, but that's another blog post). Finally we settled on going to my sister's house for dinner. And of course we needed some sort of food adventure, ideally one that required an empirical test. We do so love our empirical tests. Ham was decided upon. And mashed potatoes. Naturally. And what else goes with ham and mashed potatoes? Biscuits of course!

Now, you have to understand the place biscuits hold in our hearts. There were many weekend morning where we'd throw together a pan of biscuits and brew pots upon pots of coffee when sis and I lived together. I got pretty good at the biscuit making. Light, fluffy, moist, crumbly, biscuits are a wee little slice of heaven on this earth.

The second bit of background information that is very important is Alton Brown. Yes, Alton Brown of Good Eats is a veritable god in our humble opinions. Who doesn't love his show? His cook books are an education in science and food. Alton Brown's procedure for BAKING brown rice instead of hoping and praying it came out ok on the stove top changed my life. I have perfect brown rice each and every time! And OMG his brown rice salad??? Not only does it involve bacon, which we all know is awesome, it solves the problem of how do you transport dressing with your salad for a tasty lunch. Why you cook the dressing RIGHT INTO THE RICE!!! Genius! Pure genius I say!

Upon receiving Alton Brown's baking book some time ago, Sis and I vowed that we would have a Biscuit Bake Off. Biscuits are a chapter on to themselves. He writes how he perfected the biscuit procedure and finally settled upon a recipe that rivals all others. He even states that were he the kind of person who entered baking contests, he would enter these biscuits and he would win. Now that is a biscuit to behold! We must have these biscuits!!!

Well, now wouldn't Christmas be the perfect time to dive into Alton Brown's ultimate biscuit recipe?

You see, it's an edgy recipe. It's daring. It's risky. It's not your normal recipe. IT INVOLVES AN EGG! Yes, that's right. An EGG in your biscuit!!! GASP!!!!!

We decided not to go with the empirical test method. We were going to do a traditional biscuit along side Alton Brown's new crazy method. But no! We would trust the fate of our Christmas dinner to Alton Brown! He would never do us wrong!!

Oh, how wrong we were.

We painstakingly followed each and every step of his recipe. We even WEIGHED all the ingredients! We were leaving nothing to chance. Not that there would be anything to chance as Alton Brown would never ever lead us wrong. I held back the disbelief as I cracked an egg in to my biscuit dough. Yogurt was involved also. Alton Brown dedicated a full page to a crazy kneading method involved parchment paper. He tells you the dough will be very wet and sticky and shows you how to knead with the parchment paper as a dough prophylactic so that you do not end up with "Club Hand" where you fingers are encased in dough.

Well, the dough was wet and sticky as promised. So wet and sticky that kneading even with the paper was unsuccessful. Club Hand occurred anyway.
So wet and sticky was the dough that cutting with a brand new shiny biscuit cutter, bought just for this day, mind you, was impossible.

The biscuits would have to be.... gasp.... dropped. Drop biscuits! I was reduced to drop biscuits!!! Oh the horror! Oh the humanity! I had to leave the kitchen for the drop biscuit procedure as to not cry and see my little heart break. Drop biscuits, as we all know, are not proper biscuits. Drop biscuits are a biscuit failure.

The drop biscuits baked and were eaten, but sadly, they were not the highlight of Christmas dinner. Taste wise they were OK but they made my mashed potatoes sad.

Alton Brown, thanks for ruining Christmas.


teabird said...

I can't stand to see mashed potatoes cry.

kboney said...

this just happened to us too! (i found you by googling "alton brown biscuit problem."

total biscuit fail! super runny, and we had to take them out after about 1/2 of his recommended time or they would have burnt to a crisp. we chalked it up to not having a scale yet and - gasp - low fat buttermilk, but apparently it goes beyond that. hmm.

Amy said...

kboney! I feel your pain! It's the first time Alton has ever done me wrong. But I have to say I am very glad I'm not the only one who has had a biscuit failure with that recipe!

kboney said...

I just had to post after I saw yours, since it was so fresh in my mind (last weekend!) Most of his recipes are great- my husband has committed the waffles to memory and has been known to get up early before work just to make them. I guess that's why this was such a shock. I wonder if the other 2 biscuit recipes work?


Amy said...

Kboney, Alton Brown did a whole show on biscuits awhile ago with the grandma, do you remember it? His tips and basic recipe is what I have used for years (tho I tend to go with all butter rather than a butter/shortening mix, cause I never really have shortening on hand and um, its kinda gross). But two biscuit failures is not a coincidence! Maybe its time to get Alton's opinion??

kboney said...

we (well, husband) just made the original recipe from the show this morning- they were great! (i think we will use all butter next time though.) we should definitely let him know. i poked around and didn't see a "contact" link. any ideas?

Anonymous said... almost a year after your original post and I have to report...I had the same problem with the parchment/runny biscuit dough. I just kept adding flour...and more flour until it became more of a "dough" consistancy, but I had to scrape the dough off the paper several times then flouring. I'm glad to to know that I wasn't the only one to have this problem...

chaosbird said...

Seven years later...same exact problem as you and everyone else in the comments. Weighed everything, fresh ingredients...none of it mattered. Made the white lily flour recipe next, and they were perfect, apart from being buttery. Alton failed us for sure!