As part of “The Cooking Basics” series, I thought I’d share with you one of the books I consider to be an invaluable resource for creating your own recipes. Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” is slowly turning out to be pretty handy in the kitchen.
Essentially, the author refers to a culinary ratio as a fixed proportion of one ingredient relative to another. He says that these proportions for the backbone of the craft of cooking. The book contains ratios for doughs, stocks, sausages, sauces and custards and once you know the basics, you are really only limited by your imagination. For example, the ratio for bread is 5 parts flour : 3 parts water. So combining 500 grams of flour plus 300 grams of water plus a small amount of yeast will give you the basic bread dough. Now, once you know how to mix this properly, comes the fun part! Looking for a savoury bread? Add bacon, caramelized onions, or cheese. In a nutty mood? Add walnuts, olives, and raisins.
I must caution, if you are looking for a “cooking bible” or “the best bread recipe, best custard recipe etc” this is probably not what you are looking for. Think of this more as a guide to help you understand how certain ingredients work together to give you different results (for example, pizza dough and bread are made up of the same ingredients but why are they so different?)
This book enables you to rely less on cookbooks and more on your creativity and as the author says “When you know a ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand.”
Today I’m sharing with you his ratio for biscuits which is 3 parts flour: 1 part fat : 2 parts liquid. You also add 1 teaspoon baking powder per 125 grams of flour – so in the basic recipe I used 2 teaspoons baking powder to help the dough rise even more.
After my recent four day trip to Melbourne where I took a caramel and confectionery course at the Savour School, I was excited to get back into my own kitchen and start baking. After all that sugar, I was yearning for something savoury. So I reached for my Ratio book and found a
recipe ratio for biscuits and the result was a crusty exterior and flaky layers of dough enveloped in bacon and cheese. Slathered with butter, it was the perfect fix.
So now you have this ratio, let me hear what fabulous biscuit combinations you’d come up with!
Bacon and Cheese Biscuits
Basic Recipe adapted from Michael Ruhlman, Ratio
- 255 grams flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 85 grams butter, diced, cold
- 170 ml milk
- 100 grams bacon, diced
- 50 grams cheese plus more for topping
- In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Rub the butter and pinch this through the flour so that the largest size will not be larger than the size of a pea.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the milk. Mix this until a dough is formed. Place the dough in a floured work surface and knead lightly until it comes together in a ball.
- Roll out the dough in a rectangle so that it measures 10 cm by 15 cm. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate to rest for at least an hour.
- Unwrap the dough and dust it with flour. Roll out the dough so that it is now three times the size (maintain the rectangular shape). If you are using the fillings, add half of it now. Fold the dough into thirds – to do this, take one end of the dough and fold it two-thirds of the doughs length towards the other end, then take the other end and fold it the other way. Cover the dough in plastic and allow to rest again in the refrigerator, half an hour.
- Remove the dough again from the refrigerator, unwrap the dough and dust again with flour. Roll out the dough again to three times its size and again add the remaining filing. Fold the dough again into thirds as done earlier. Cover again with plastic and allow to rest for another half hour.
- For the last time, repeat step 6. Then roll out the dough so that it is around 1.5 cm thick, cut into triangles or using a round cutter.
- Top with more grated cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven 200c for 20 to 30 minutes until golden and done.