As much as chicken soup is lauded as a cure for what ails you, and is perhaps the quintessential comfort food (it even has its own series of books for goodness sake), I’d like to disagree. You see, to me soup is fine when you have the flu and are eating mostly liquids, but when your soul needs soothing, soup is a little too light duty.
I had a severe case of the blahs last week. I felt uninspired, bloated, and a couple of shades of blargh. Holly Golightly would have called it the Mean Reds. Whatever you call it, you know it is not fun. So there I was, prostrate on my couch watching Pride and Prejudice for the 4th time in 3 days when I realized I needed to eat. I had a kitchen full of vegetables and fruits and healthy options but at that moment I wanted none of it. Ten in ’10 be damned, I wanted biscuits.
The great thing about biscuits is they are dead simple. A few ingredients plus a few minutes of work, and poof. Soul-soothers like no other. I’ve eaten my share of biscuits over the years, everything from Grands to Bisquick to my Aunt Sudie Faye’s homemade biscuits smothered in gravy. Aunt Sudie Faye’s were the pinnacle of biscuit perfection in my book. That is, until last week.
I have made many biscuits myself, using a few different recipes but in recent years settled in with Alton Brown‘s (of course). I love that episode where he makes biscuits alongside his grandmother. She’s so cute and reminds me of home (she is so completely and totally a Southern grandma).
I’ve made many batches of his biscuits and thought I was satisfied. They are good. I always did as he said and worked the dough as little as possible so the biscuits were flaky (almost to the point of falling apart), but I never could get mine as tall as Aunt Sudie Faye’s.
For whatever reason, I didn’t want those biscuits anyway. I wanted something better. Now, normally in the middle of the blahs is not the time to go trying something new. Usually it’s best to go with old reliable because horror of horrors, what if the new ones aren’t good?
Well, I was in a difficult mood. And picky. I thought, “so what if they don’t turn out, I kind of expect they won’t anyway. I suck at baking.” Not a reflection of the recipe, just my general outlook that day. After a little research, and a lot of effort (getting off of the sofa is hard. Especially when Mr. Darcy is around), I turned to Homesick Texan for a new biscuit experience.
See, biscuit recipes vary but not by that much in the way of ingredients. However, her method is vastly different than AB’s. Where he says don’t work the dough, she says beat it with your rolling pin. I probably enjoyed beating the dough a little too much.
These biscuits came out tall and layered and beautiful and delicious. With butter. With pear preserves. With gravy. Heck yeah, I made gravy. Look out, there’s a new biscuit in town. And it is in every way perfect.
While I wouldn’t recommend eating half a dozen (or more) biscuits all by yourself on a regular basis, I do believe they can wrap your achy soul in buttery goodness and lift your mood. I felt better by the end of the day and even pushed myself out the door to spin class where the instructor tried to kill me. But in a good way.
Want to do my dishes? I’ll pay you in biscuits.
(from Homesick Texan)
The best biscuit I’ve made. Perhaps the best biscuit I’ve eaten. And just so you know, I’ve eaten a lot of biscuits. Tall, flaky, layered. These biscuits are tender but substantial enough to stand up to a thick cream gravy. Perfection.
Makes 10-12 biscuits.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons) butter, cold
3/4 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Mix together all of the dry ingredients.
- Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles pea-sized crumbs.
- Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until the flour is just incorporated but the dough is sticky and loose.
- Pour dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. The dough should be smooth and no longer wet. (Sprinkle the surface with more flour if the dough is sticking).
- Shape the dough into a ball, and hit it with a rolling pin, turning it and folding it in half every few whacks. Do this for a couple of minutes. [Better than a therapy session]
- Roll dough until it is 1/4 inch thick and then fold it in half. Cut out your biscuits from the folded dough using a round biscuit cutter or a glass (pick whatever size you like best. I’ve used anything from a shot glass to a tumbler depending on my mood).
- Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper (or grease the baking sheet if not using either of those). Make sure the biscuits are slightly touching so that they will help each other rise up instead of out.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
- Eat them with butter, jam, preserves, gravy or friends. Just eat them.