Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.
Growing up, a lot of my summers were spent in Alabama. As anyone in ‘Bama will tell you, there is no better cure for the sweltering summer days than good fresh produce. We have such a long growing season that tomatoes and peaches in particular do beautifully in the hot sun. When I miss those hot southern days and drippy humid nights, I tend to go to my kitchen and do my best to recreate the memories of our big vegetable dinners on Grandmother Riley’s back patio. There would be heaping dishes of fried okra, sweet cream corn, purple hulled peas, collard greens, Aunt Eleanor’s yeast rolls, Grandmother Riley’s cornbread (not the sweet cakey type favored by northerners), and platters of red juicy tomatoes. Everything was fresh and delicious, all washed down with glasses of sweet ice tea. Over the years I have tried to mimic those recipes and make them a bit healthier to share my southern heritage with my family.
What I’m going to share today is a slightly healthier version of southern biscuits. Having dependable quick bread recipes is invaluable when you run out of bread or forget to pick some up at the store. Unlike yeasted bread, biscuits can be made in a jiffy. I use the Tassajara Bread Book recipe, which is a book I highly recommend as a comprehensive guide to home bread making. When baking, I always use King Arthur flour. They have a white whole wheat flour that isn’t as dense as regular whole wheat flour, which I really recommend for baking.
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter ( I use a little less than a 1/2 cup about 1 tablespoon less)
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup of milk ( I use buttermilk if I have it on hand)
Combine flours, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into dry ingredients with pastry knife or two knives until pea-sized pieces are formed. Make well in the center of mixture and stir until smoothish. ( to save on dishes I pour in milk then beat the eggs in the measuring cup I used for the milk) Continue stirring gradually incorporating flour, until all is moistened. On a floured board, knead dough just enough to bring it together.
Roll dough into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Fold into thirds. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat rolling and folding. Repeat once more. ( The rolling and folding make a flakier biscuit)
To make biscuits roll out dough one last time to 1/2 thickness. Cut into rounds with a floured glass ( this is what my grandmother always used) or a round biscuit cutter. Place on an ungreased sheet and bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes until bottoms are slightly brown and tops are slightly golden. Keep an eye on them so they don’t over bake. After baking them once you will have a better idea how fast they cook in your oven.
For cheesy Biscuits add
- 1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese ( or Pecorino,Cheddar or provolone)
- 1 tablespoon of dried crushed Rosemary (or Sage or Thyme or Oregano)
Follow the Flaky biscuit recipe then add cheese and herbs to flour and butter mixture before adding eggs and milk. Follow the same procedure for shaping and baking biscuits.