Suzen and I are on a book tour. Not one where we travel. One where do each recipe, one by one. Biscuits by Belinda Ellis in one of the Savor the South cookbooks available from the University of North Carolina Press. It’s addictive.
Here’s our favorite recipe out of the ten [of fifty recipes in the book] we have done so far. These drop biscuits are easy and wonderfully simple. They are southern through and through so they are made with buttermilk and self-rising flour. They are not rolled out and then cut into perfect circles. Just make the batter and plop the biscuits down. Hence, Belinda calls them Lazy Biscuits although there is nothing pejorative here about the swiftness of mix and drop.
One great characteristic of these biscuits is the oven temperature: 500°F. The biscuits rise high and the top becomes firm and golden. The interior texture is soft and wonderfully pleasant to bite.
“How could you?” Suzen asked me. “These are fine by themselves.” She was eating her second one, very plain.
I was putting butter and elderberry jelly on mine. So, how could I do it: one pat of butter and one teaspoon of jam a time.
There are just three main ingredients here. Quite amazing as you will see at first bite.
Lazy Biscuits or Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
Yield: serves 8 biscuits
- 2 cups soft wheat self-rising flour
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, unsalted butter, or lard, cut into ½-inch chunks and chilled for 15 minutes
- ¾ cup whole buttermilk, plus more if needed
- Melted butter for brushing the tops
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Use a nonstick cake pan or baking sheet.
Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the cold chunks of shortening, butter, or lard and toss them in the flour to coat. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, break up the chunks until they are about the size of peas.
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk. Staring at the sides of the bowl, use a spatula or a wooden spoon to toss the flour over the buttermilk. Continue to work in the flour from the sides of the bowl, just until the dough come together.
If the dough starts top pull away from the sides of the bowl, and sticks to your fingers, you have the right amount of buttermilk. If there are dry spots and dough isn’t sticky when you tough it, add more buttermilk.
Using an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon, drop the biscuits onto the cake pan or baking sheet. Since these biscuits are crisp, drop each scoop about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the biscuits in the center of the oven until they are light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Brush the tops with melted butter.
Source: Biscuits by Bellinda Ellis
Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18-55MM Macro lens, F/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO 800
f/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO 600
Buttermilk by Debbie Moose expounds the wonderful array of flavors that can be spiked with the bright tang of buttermilk. Here’s her recipe for pound cake, now boosted with buttermilk flavor. You can eat this on its own, put a lemon or vanilla icing on top, or do what we did: adorn with fresh fruit. The texture — soft yet deep and fulfilling — gives any meal an ending of substance.
This cake is easily made and is a wonderful way to induce your children or grandchildren to help in the kitchen. Getting them to add the flour and buttermilk by thirds will give them a kitchen mission that truly makes them feel important. A couple of hours later, when they bite away, you can applaud their culinary mathematics.
We made this cake for our grandchildren in Austin. They did not have a 10-inch tube pan so we divided the batter into two 9-inch cake rounds. The baking time went from an hour to around 40 minutes. The cakes were superb when topped with some fresh fruit, sliced and sweeted with just a little sugar. Ice cream or whipped cream could have been added. But, honestly, we did not want to detract from the great buttermilk flavor.
Jan’s Buttermilk Pound Cake
Yield: 20 servings
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 extra-large eggs or 6 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare a 10-inch tube pan by coating the inner surface with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil and dusting with flour
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until creamy and pale, about 5 minutes. Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk gently to beak the yolks. Add the eggs to the butter mixture in two additions, beating well after each and scraping the sides of the bowl between beatings.
In a medium blow, whisk tougher the baking soda, salt and flour. On medium speed, beat 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. Stop the mixer and add half of the buttermilk. Turn the mixer on low to prevent spatters and bear for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, the vanilla, and the rest of the flour mixture, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl periodically to incorporate all the ingredients. The batter will be thick.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan and rap the bottom of the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. The cake make crack on top, but this is ok.
Source: Buttermilk by Debbie Moose, a Savor the South cookbook from the University of North Carolina Press
Photo Information: iPad