Southerners are passionate about their biscuits and the traditions behind them. They will debate over the type of flour, butter versus shortening, flaky versus fluffy, as well as how to roll out the dough for the best biscuits. If you grew up making biscuits with your grandmother, I am sure you have an opinion. Feel free to share it in the comments.
For those of you looking for a fabulous recipe to make this summer for family reunions, picnics and Sunday suppers, here is one you will love from Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia. These light and flaky biscuits will not fall apart as soon as you take a bite making them perfect for sausage biscuits. They taste amazing with strawberry preserves and honey. I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe and freezing some to pop in the oven later that week. You will be craving them.
Making biscuits is a fun thing to do on a lazy Sunday or hot summer day. My kids love to sift the flour and create powdered snow, stick their fingers in the shaggy mass, roll out the dough, and cut out the biscuits with a water glass. You can even use a clean aluminum can like I did as a child with my “Aunt Dot.” Maybe you will have a rare moment with your kids like the pregnant mother and daughter had on the Publix commercial making pinwheel sandwiches talking about becoming a big sister.
I adore this buttermilk biscuit recipe from Anne Quatrano due to the simplicity and buttery flavor. The protein in the buttermilk improves the nutritional value and the lactose softens the crumb and sweetens the bread. Use a really lumpy buttermilk similar to cottage cheese. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, substitute a heavy cream or make your own buttermilk. Pour 2 cup of milk into a bowl and then add 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar. After ten minutes, the milk will curdle slightly. It will not be as lumpy as the store bought buttermilk but works nicely.
Use your hands to mix the dough to feel the consistency of the “shaggy mass.” For you first timers, the dough will be very sticky, clumpy, and moist. Add more buttermilk if it feels dry; wetter doughs produce steam in the oven and create lighter biscuits. Northern flours like King Arthur absorb more liquid so do not be surprised if you need to add more buttermilk or cream. Be careful not to over work the dough since more gluten chains form as you mix and this yields a denser biscuit.
For those of you interested in hearing more about the flour debate, Southern grown wheats are lower in protein than Northern grown varieties making them ideal for biscuits, pie crusts, quick breads and muffins. Southern flours need less liquid as mentioned above. Northern flours are known for yeast breads, pasta, pizza, and puff pastries. Many people will specify White Lily flour since it has 9 grams of protein versus King Arthur at 13 grams. Honestly, you can use what you have in your pantry as long as it is mostly all-purpose flour but make sure you sift it and do not overwork the dough. Last time, I only had three and a half cups of the unbleached Whole Foods all-purpose so I added a half cup of unbleached whole wheat flour from King Arthur and it worked perfectly.
Your biscuits may not look as good as the ones at Bacchanalia, Star Provisions and Floataway Cafe but they will be devoured so quickly no one will mind. Anne Quatrano along with Matt Adolfi, chef de cuisine and Jonathan Kallini, sous chef of Bacchanalia presented how to make these mouth watering sausage and strawberry preserve buttermilk biscuits at the Morningside Market. Miss Edna Lewis Strawberry Preserves and the fresh herb sausage patties made from Riverview Farms Pork Shoulder transform these southern delights into a gourmet treat worthy of a silver platter. I will be posting how to make the preserves and breakfast sausage shortly.
1) Preheat Oven to 475 degrees. Line a 12 x 18 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Make the Shaggy Mass- In a large bowl, sift in 4 cups of all purpose flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt unless your butter is salted. ( I use Kerrygold butter which is made with grass fed milk and some salt so I only use 1 teaspoon of Back to Organic Lemon Twist Himalayan salt.) Combine dry ingredients. Using your hands, incorporate the small cubes of butter into the flour until the butter is roughly the size of peas. Make sure the butter is cold. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Combine everything until it comes together into a ball, being careful not to overwork. Once you are able to form a ball, stop working the dough.
3) Roll out the dough and Cut Biscuits- On a well-floured surface to prevent sticking, use a well-floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to a 1 inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds using a 1.5 inch or 3 inch round cutter or use the top of a water glass or aluminum can.
4) Bake- Place the rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving 1/2 inch space between the biscuits. Bake for 8 minutes for small biscuits or 12 minutes for large, or until golden brown. Convection will cook the large biscuits in 7 or 8 minutes. Remove for the oven and brush with melted clarified butter while piping hot. Normal butter will make the biscuits soggy. Serve immediately. I recommend adding herb spiced sausage and strawberry preserves. Or slice some berries and drizzle with honey. Enjoy!
Recipe from Anne Quatrano, Bacchanalia
Types of flour and protein from Cookwise, Shirley O. Corriher
Morningside Market photos provided by T.C. Brodnax