My Biscuit Story - Biscuits: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American Kitchen (2015)

Biscuits: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American Kitchen (2015)

My Biscuit Story


With a Southern heritage as rich as mine, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that I learned to make biscuits before I learned to write. I have wonderful memories of my grandmother’s daily routine of biscuit baking when she pulled out her biscuit bowl full of flour and knew just the right amount of unmeasured ingredients to produce consistently perfect biscuits. I loved grabbing bits of dough scraps to eat and hearing her say, “Don’t eat too much o’ that dough. It’ll give you worms.” Many times, too many to count, I’ve used biscuits to sop up cane syrup laden with soft butter. As far back as I remember, I’ve loved a biscuit stuffed with bacon. Yes, I’ve been surrounded by biscuits, eaten biscuits, loved biscuits, dreamed of biscuits my entire life, but I’m a living testimony that all that doesn’t translate into biscuit baking prowess. I was a decades-long biscuit failure. As odd as it may seem, that’s the reason you can rely on me to teach you biscuit-baking skills.

By the time I became interested in learning the art and technique of biscuit making, my grandmother was interested in shortcuts and had discovered the wonderment of canned biscuits. She thought they were a fine substitute and all I needed to know was how to crack open the can and be prepared for the pop. My mother, not an enthusiastic cook, didn’t know how to make scratch biscuits herself. Off and on, throughout the years, I experimented with scratch biscuits and had every failure imaginable. At various times, my biscuits were hard, flat, burned, tasteless, or soggy. On occasion, they might have been all those at once. Without anyone to guide me, I never made progress. Batch after batch after sad, pitiful batch, my biscuits failed. Mind you, this was before the days of the Internet. Access to information wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today. It never crossed my mind that the public library bought cookbooks and would have been a rich resource for biscuit-baking information. So, as far as I could tell, I was relegated to the art and technique of popping open canned biscuits. Hard as I tried, I could never help but jump when the can popped. When I discovered commercially prepared frozen biscuits, clearly superior to canned biscuits, I felt my quest for good biscuits was over once and for all.

After starting my blog, Syrup and Biscuits, I had the good sense to know that if I publish a blog with biscuit in the name, I’d better figure out how to include a biscuit recipe in an article. The thought caused me as much stress as an IRS audit. Having no confidence in my scratch biscuit making abilities and no mentor around, I relied on Bisquick to help me out of a jam. The baking mix was a staple in my pantry and I used it frequently for quick pancakes and, occasionally, casseroles. The directions for biscuits were right there on the box staring back at me. They were simple, straightforward, and had two ingredients: baking mix and milk. The first experiment was drop biscuits, which came out with a nice flavor, but I didn’t like the appearance. They looked more like coconut macaroons than biscuits. With my courage up and my rolling pin in hand, I went for the gusto and produced rolled and cut biscuits, substituting buttermilk for sweet milk. They came out looking like biscuits and tasting like biscuits. I wrote up an article for the blog and called them Easy Buttermilk Biscuits. Now that I had an article and recipe for buttermilk biscuits on the blog, my work was done.

Time dragged on, my blog’s readership grew, and I had overcome another big cooking hurdle. Along with the success of rolled and cut biscuits, I had mastered Chicken and Dumplings, another Southern kitchen iconic dish that resulted in failure after failure. You probably won’t be surprised that I used the same Bisquick and buttermilk recipe for the dumplings as I did for the biscuits. As I continued to share my stories and recipes for authentic Southern cooking, a little voice kept coaxing me to do something about my biscuits. I answered the call with exhaustive research on scratch biscuit techniques. I read everything I could get my hands on and watched every YouTube video I could find about biscuits and took copious notes. I couldn’t have been more focused, precise, and dedicated if I was conducting research to write a scholarly paper. After reviewing, rewriting, reviewing, and rewriting my notes, I was ready. With all the determination I could muster, I grabbed my mixing bowl, White Lily flour, butter, and buttermilk. My kitchen was a battle ground and I had no intention of surrendering to defeat.

After I put the first batch in the oven, I treated them as though they were one of my children admitted to the hospital: I never left their side and didn’t take my eyes off them. Sitting on the floor in front of the stove peering in through the glass, I waited for the rise of the dough. And rise, they did! The first batch was perfect: tender, flaky, golden, and high.

Since my first good batch of scratch biscuits, I haven’t had another biscuit failure. In fact, my technique has improved. I can make those biscuits so high, tender, and flaky, I surprise myself.

Decades of biscuit failure combined with exhaustive biscuit research has produced surefire techniques, tips, and knowledge that is reliable. I’m ready to share that knowledge with you and the world.