Discovering my inner Biscuit
Drop Everthing Biscuits
His mouth got set for a bracing cup of coffee and a pan of biscuits as he scraped his fingers on the back door.
from Stand the Storm by Breena Clarke
I have come to accept that the very perfect, specific taste of the biscuits that my mother made during my childhood cannot be replicated.I simply cannot make any biscuit taste as good as the ones my mother made. I’m convinced that it is more about my memories of these delicacies — a peculiar taste reminiscence that is all bound up with emotion — than some sort of holy grail of quick bread. My parents are dead and I think I like making the foods they made because it’s like visiting with them a while. Now I’m ready for a change. I’ve experimented and created some of my own recipes that I think could be better than theirs. My father’s pan fried chicken is legendary in my family. Turns out, mine is better. It really is.
I’ve found a better biscuit, too. I think the biscuits that I make now are better than my mother’s. She rolled hers and I used to think that, since you had to do a bunch of fancy things and use fancy equipment, you were making a better biscuit when you rolled them out and cut them in perfect small circles. I no longer believe this. I’ve come to embrace drop biscuits. Stir, fold gently and push a large dollop (I love this word) off the end of a spoon. My main problem was always that I did too much “handling” – rolling my dough too flat and mashing it too much and never getting the rise I was looking for. I have never had my mother’s delicate touch with dough. I’m heavy handed. When you come to accept yourself, you can really create something.
My basic drop biscuit recipe:
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
a dash of salt
2 and ½ tablespoons of unsalted butter
¼ to ½ cup of milk (maybe more)
cover a baking sheet with parchment paper
pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Combine dry ingredients and fluff them using a wire whisk. I prefer this method to sifting because I don’t want to try to clean a sifter. I shake and fluff my dry ingredients for a couple of minutes. Cut in the butter, i.e. cut up the pieces and use a pastry cutter to distribute throughout the flour mixture mashing out any large bits. Add milk a little bit at a time, stirring it in to create a soft dough that can be dropped from a spoon onto a baking sheet. The consistency is important. It should not be so liquid as to drip off the spoon, rather scoop – able, i.e. – push-off-the-spoon-able.
Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 12 minutes. Biscuits should be a charming, light brown color on top and bottom. The relatively moderate temperature and the parchment paper will guarantee a lovely brown on the bottom. These biscuits will not be uniform. They re-heat well.
For cheese biscuits: stir in shredded cheese before dropping onto sheet
Try this version that I have named Coconut-Raisin Ruffies*
To the above ingredients add: ½ cup of shredded coconut - add more or less. Add raisins – roughly a handful.
* I don’t know. I like this word for meaning rough, though fluffy and delicate and irregular.
I write about biscuits, too. For me, they are the perfect metaphor for anything that is beautiful, tasty, brown, simple, ordinary and wonderful. Biscuits turn up in the three novels I’ve written. Check out the excerpts:
There was a parade of baking powder biscuit through the Bynums’ house in the days after Clara’s death. Every woman who paid a call brought a pan of biscuits. And there were some women who made good baking powder biscuit, some who made heavenly ones, some who made rubbery ones, and some whose biscuits were as hard as rocks. If Saint Peter paid a nickel for each time a woman said in reply to a compliment that her mother’s or her grandmother’s biscuits were the finest, the lightest, the fluffiest, the most delicately browned she had ever tasted, there would be nickels under every pillow in town.
from River, Cross My Heart
She took pains to feed him. She gave him his regular stew but added the fillip of powder biscuits and butter and honey.
from Stand The Storm
Without Ellen the biscuits tasted flat.
from Stand the Storm
He looked at her with a hot, angry glance that melted to desire like butter atop a biscuit and caused him to want to stop talking and make love to her. from Angels Make Their Hope Here
He looked at her and thought that she was as pretty as a biscuit still—even with dried matter about her eyes. from Angels Make Their Hope Here
I’m not the only writer with a biscuit obsession. Joe Turner’s Come And Gone by August Wilson is a haunting play with a lot of biscuit eating.
I ain’t worried about the coffee. I know she makes some good biscuits. from Joe Turner’s Come And Gone
From the Tumblr of Breena Clarke, author of Angels Make Their Hope Here.