Not sure about you, but I’ve got a biscuit ritual: Snag one hot from the oven. Slice the already bursting seam with a knife. Add a pat of good butter to each half and watch it melt. Do you know how hard it is not to sneak a bite as you watch the butter stain the bread yellow? Dab on fruit preserves, decidedly choosing from among the gifted jars of the homemade variety, ones that friends felt I was worthy enough to receive. Coupled with a cup of coffee, a well-made, well-treated biscuit is a delicious start to a day.
I don’t bake biscuits often because others make them far better than me. I’ve been treated to fresh biscuits from Chadwick Boyd, a food and lifestyle personality, part-time Atlanta resident and biscuit aficionado who is a key figure in the annual International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, Tenn. He makes moist, poufy biscuits look like a cake walk while I walk the road toward dry and crumbly.
Not that I haven’t tried to improve. A few years ago, I worked the line at Bojangles’. That fast-food chain has got biscuit-making down to a science — in 48 steps. That’s at least 45 steps too many for me.
Plus, why compete with perfection?
Because I’ve since gotten ahold of a keeper of a biscuit recipe. It calls for just two ingredients: White Lily self-rising flour and heavy cream. Perhaps you know of it. It’s called Jolene Black’s Cream Biscuits. Originally published in the Times-Picayune in April 2005, it is a reader recipe. It has since been reprinted in “Cooking Up a Storm — 10th Anniversary: Recipes Lost and Found From the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.”
As the Times-Picayune editors note, success comes from sticking with these two ingredients. “The trick is to use these exact ingredients. The biscuits won’t be as light if you use any other kind of self-rising flour. The fat in the heavy cream replaces the shortening or butter in comparable recipes.”
The first time I made these biscuits, I probably should have recorded my oohs and aahs. I was alone in my kitchen, talking to no one about my wonderment and delight at the divine smell, the sky-high rise of the bread, and the brevity of the baking project — it’s not a project; start to finish, making these biscuits is faster than washing dishes by hand. I marveled at the perfection of the liquid-to-dry ratio. And that we don’t even need to add salt.
An apple a day might keep the doctor away. A cream biscuit a day surely is a recipe for tasting heaven on earth.
JOLENE BLACK’S CREAM BISCUITS
Yield: Makes 10-12 biscuits
From “Cooking Up a Storm — 10th Anniversary: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans,” edited by Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu, published by Chronicle Books.
2 1/2 cups White Lily self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Put the flour in a medium mixing bowl and add the cream. Stir until a soft, sticky ball forms. (The dough will seem wet at first.) On a very lightly floured surface, knead lightly with your well-floured hands about 3 times, just until the dough comes together.
Pat the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. Bake on the prepared baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
Per serving (based on 10 biscuits): 234 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 4 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 14 g fat (8 g saturated), 49 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium
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