Watney Biscuits Trial #2: I am not pleased

Watney Biscuits Trial #2: I am not pleased

Day 4, Trial 2 of The Biscuit Chronicles (every attempt takes two days, thus why this is taking forever and slowly sucking out every biscuit-appreciating atom left in my body) has yielded these little assholes:

Are you kidding me? I stayed up until midnight last night (okay admittedly that wasn’t hard, I continued to stay up until 3am to read A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, a storyline which is coming along great, UNLIKE THE STORY OF CERTAIN BISCUITS I MIGHT MENTION) so I could get these damn things proofed the required 8 to 12 hours.

I even used real buttermilk instead of the soy yogurt I had put in the recipe yesterday (the recipe says either buttermilk or soy milk will work, IT LIES), just in case biscuits are offended by soy, like seemingly half the human beings I encounter (of all the ways I offend people, my preference for soy milk and soy yogurt has been the most startling).

Yes, I read the recipe perfectly. I was very careful. Really the only difference between yesterday’s result and today is the crumb. I think I’m using that term correctly here. It has more crumb? More….loft. It’s like the mixture actually had a passing thought about becoming a biscuit this time, whereas yesterday it had no idea what it was, it was like, “Am I a pancake? A cookie? Do I even exist? What is even biscuit?

Today it was like the La Croix of biscuits, like a real biscuit walked by while my biscuits were cooking, and what came out my oven is the distant memory of a biscuit that my biscuits saw from afar while they pondered their life choices in my oven.

To top it all off, they still tasted bland and boring (my eighteen-year-old son said, “Mom, I love you, but I have to be honest, I can’t eat these”). I ate two of them with butter and jam (Kerry Gold butter with fine cherry jam, I am not messing around here), and even that didn’t improve things. I have heartburn. Is it the acid from the refined flours, or the fiery acid of betrayal, who can guess.

What’s next for Watney?

I’m not sure! I’m definitely done with this particular biscuit recipe. I don’t want to be done with biscuits entirely, but I need to ask in some sourdough Facebook groups what to do next. Watney is getting bigger, I fed him last night, so something needs to happen soon. I’m frustrated that the only two things I’ve managed to make with sourdough that work are pancakes and chocolate cake. These biscuits were a big failure and the four loaves of bread I tried last year were also failures. Shouldn’t some kind of bread product be possible here? I will keep researching.

At least the dogs are happy. We ran out of our bulk box of Milkbone biscuits from Costco a few days ago, but I’ve replaced their traditional biscuits with Folger’s Crystals my new La Croix Biscuits, and they can’t tell the difference:

The second pan of them today was even worst than the first photo, above:

The dogs are going to love those, they’re like cracked little frisbees.

These Mark Watney sourdough biscuits are not quite right

These Mark Watney sourdough biscuits are not quite right

Leeloo, my first sourdough starter of 2020, has died, god rest her multitudinous bacterial soul. We tried to stick her in the fridge a few months ago to put her in hypersleep while we slogged our way stressfully through the election season, but she didn’t make it. A perfect being, indeed! But that’s okay, because I made two other sourdoughs when the pandemic started (me and apparently seven million other people), and the second one has been brought out of refrigerator hibernation and is ALIVE!!

Roo and I named this one Mark Watney.

Much like the original Mark Watney, my Watney smells a little off, enjoys gardening, and can apparently survive anything. He also lives in a jar and is currently working on a way to contact NASA.

Everything I take a picture of ends up sitting at the end of my desk, where there’s good light from the window.

My sourdough Watney isn’t just alive, he is shaking his fermented booty (undoubtedly spurred on by the disco that both I and Commander Lewis so enjoy), he is bubbling every day, he practically says good morning when I come into the kitchen. Inspired by his vigor, I’m committed to finally learning how to do more with sourdough (gluten-free!) this time, instead of just relying on this incredibly delicious cake recipe that myself and my whole family loves.

Chocolate cake is great and all, but I like my treats to be treats, and it stops being special when it’s the only thing you can think to do with your leftover sourdough.

So last night I tried to make these sourdough biscuits.

I learned a valuable thing – or rather I guess I confirmed something I already suspected: I don’t read recipes off of screens well. I’m not sure why. The ADHD? My total and complete lack of executive function? I thought it was screen size, so I tried using my hubby’s larger iPad. Nope. I’ve tried using both recipes read from web pages and recipes read from PDFs (on a screen). Doesn’t work. Something just seems to go wrong with my focus, I chronically skip over ingredients or instructions when I’m looking at a screen.

This is a bit of a bummer, as there are so many great ways to digitally store recipes now, my favorites being the Paprika app and just using my PDF viewer (I utterly love Documents). But that’s okay. I can still transfer notes easily from the hard copies to my digital versions (both Paprika and the PDF editor make that easy). I’ll just start printing things out and cook from paper when I’m in the kitchen, and leave the digital copies as back-ups. And accept that I’m old school.

Part of making sourdough baked goods is making things at night to proof overnight and then get baked in the morning. With my introversion and night owl tendencies I really missed my calling as a baker, that whole mild wheat allergy thing notwithstanding. Last night I made the mistake of asking Greg a question right when I was in the middle of measuring some flour. I posted about it on Facebook:

Definitely start measuring flour, and then realize you’re tripling this sourdough biscuit recipe (sourdough recipes are often made at night for the next day; I promise I’m not going to be up at 1am shoving biscuits into my face but if I were you would not be allowed to judge me anyway) and wonder what those fractions add up to, and then ask your husband while you’re in the middle of pouring the third, or possibly the fourth cup of flour into the bowl, you have no idea because now you’re thinking about fractions and how interesting it is that some people’s minds will get a question like that and immediately their inner mental chalkboards are writing out numerators and denominators, and crossing things out, white lines on green, while others (like mine) will visually break everything into parts, picturing actual tiny bowls of flour partitioned into the smallest volumes, and mentally redistribute them back into whole cups and count them up again, and now maybe it’s a fifth cup of flour, what is happening? How many cups of flour did I put in? <dumps all the flour back into the jar and starts over again>

I fixed the flour and thought the hard part was over! I was wrong. My eye completely skipped the second instruction: cover and let sour for 8-12 hours. Miles came into the kitchen and we were laughing about something, and then I just started grabbing eggs out of the fridge and….didn’t realize my mistake until I was putting it all in the stand mixer. Oops.

I didn’t want to lose 12 tablespoons of butter, so I decided to put the mix in the fridge overnight, and see what happened in the morning.

I mean, they baked. I suppose you can put anything in the oven and if it comes out changed in some way and didn’t destroy the oven, the pan, or any other part of your kitchen, then you can claim that it baked. But they’re pretty funny looking.

They taste a bit bland, even though I added all the required salt. Note: more salt next time. Everyone who has seen them has had a good laugh, and the dogs are definitely complimenting my skills and pointing out that they care not for the shape of biscuits, as long as biscuits end up in their stomachs, so they each got one. I ate one and it was kind of like a very boring cookie, probably what Eowyn would make if we can surmise her cooking skills from that stew she feeds Aragorn. Or maybe she just made that stew from a recipe on her iPad instead of a printed paper on the counter, we’ll never know.

I have a lot of butter left, a lot of Watney left, and some time this evening, so I’m going to try again. Following the recipe with instruction #2 included. Printed out.