i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)

Warm, flaky, steam rising, slathered with creamy Irish butter… you’re visualizing my favorite food in the world: BISCUITS.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Brush the tops with butter

It started when I was small. No tube biscuits for this family, oh no. We’ve got strong southern blood in our veins, and it shows at biscuit time. My gramma or my mom would make them, and I’d sit in the kitchen and “help” by taste testing. Of course, anyone knows that when you have this kind of help, you need to double the recipe. It’s worth it for the hot biscuits, enjoyed before dinner with someone who appreciates them. Who GETS YOU. You know who you are.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Hungry yet?

There are (vast) differences between southern biscuit culture and northern biscuit culture. Here’s a bit of history from our family, showing just how different they are. My gramma and her mother (full south, all the way) went over to my grampa’s mom’s house (northerners, every one). Biscuits were on the menu. My paternal great gramma pulled the biscuits from the oven, and SET THEM ON THE COUNTER TO COOL. Gramma and Gramma Lillie waited, aghast, for these northern biscuits. Who eats cold biscuits on the first bake? Sure, for leftovers (ha! who has leftover biscuits?), with country ham for a sandwich, or buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and put under the broiler until the tops are crunchy. Those are all great uses for old, cold biscuits. But to not eat them hot? Well, I can’t even imagine. I’d have stared, too, sad at the warm biscuity goodness rising into the air and not into my mouth.

One of the ways my gramma served up biscuits was with southern ham (a country ham, salty and chewy) and milk gravy. Sometimes, she’d make redeye gravy (with coffee). Now, the only gravy I want to touch my biscuits is sausage gravy – homemade, because everyone else puts too much pepper in, and I don’t do hot.

But mostly, I love biscuits hot, buttery, and plentiful. For my birthday this year, I asked for biscuits for dinner at my parents’ house. My mom asked what I wanted for sides – ribs? salad? coleslaw? She gets me.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Melted butter works best like this: put a large slab of butter on one half, then put the two halves back together and flip upside down, so the butter melts one way – then flip it and let it melt another way. IF you can wait, that is. Here, I obviously could not wait. That poor biscuit half needs more butter.

Recipe: Flaky, buttery biscuits with yogurt

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt, fine grain
5 T cold butter, plus a bit more, melted, to brush the tops
7/8 c plain yogurt (I love Trader Joe’s European whole milk yogurt) or buttermik

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in your food processor. Add the butter, cut into bits, and pulse until it is crumbly. If you don’t have a food processor, mix it with your hands until it is completely blended.

Add the yogurt and stir until it is just mixed into a ball – no more! Knead 10 times. Too sticky? Add a tiny bit of flour. It will stick to your hands – this is normal.

Scoop out onto a floured board and pat it into a 3/4 inch rectangle. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Bittman notes this will produce 10-14 biscuits. Au contraire for me – 9 max. So, you might want to double or triple it. Note: In the photos below, my dough is a bit too thick – I could have gotten a few more biscuits out if it was patted out a bit more.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Cutting out biscuits – just push STRAIGHT down, do not twist.
i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Cutting out biscuits – if the dough goes over the top of the biscuit cutter, as this one shows, you need to pat it out a bit more.

Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet, with or without a silpat. Take the last bit of scraps and form into the tester biscuit (cook’s reward!).

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet
i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
If you put them close together, the sides that touch will be extra tender

Bake 7-9 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to gild the lily, brush those tops with melted butter. My dad eats them with honey. My daughter eats them with jam. I just eat them.

Eat. Be Happy. Biscuits are good.

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i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)

The End. Go Eat.