New Year, new things to cook! Or in this case, for me anyway, old things, memory-type things. Each month here on 'Crumbs' we are going to be recommending and sharing one of our favourite cookbooks on our home kitchen shelves. To start, I wanted to feature a beautiful cookbook that hit the shelves in 2016: Victuals: an Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy, a US author and editor. The book won the prestigious James Beard Media Awards in April 2017 for Best American Cooking as well as the top book award for Cookbook of the Year. If that doesn't indicate it's going to be a stunning collection of recipes, I don't know what will!
As many of you know, I am from the USA- East Tennessee to be exact, and this book focuses on all my childhood favorites (I'll spell like an American for this :-). There's unashamed use of buttermilk, cornmeal, and sorghum. There are stories and words that only those from Appalachia will recognize or be able to pronounce. And there are flavors, ooooh my goodness are there flavors! Every recipe we have made from this book in our kitchen has brought out a new story from my youth, my tastebuds filling my head with memories.
The recipe I'm going to share with you from the book is for the 'Bigger isn't Better Buttermilk Biscuits'. After I made the recipe and took a bite of one hot from the oven, I did one of those incredibly cliche closed-eyes, full-mouthed sighs of 'ooh, yeah...'. They are everything from my youth: biscuits and sausage gravy (a breakfast food), fried chicken, pork chops with applesauce, afternoon snack... It's one of the first things you learn to make because they are quite easy, but delicate, and you use your hands to mix so to really get to know the dough and the power of mixing the ingredients. They also whip together quickly without much fuss, so you can have fresh biscuits for breakfast or dinner in 20 minutes. Perfection.
Bigger isn’t Better Buttermilk Biscuits
8 Tbsp (113.5g) butter, cold, diced plus extra for the cookie sheet
2 ½ cups (400g) of plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda in the UK)
1 tsp salt
1 cup (215g) buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice. Cut the butter into the flour mixture and use your fingers to flightly mix the flour and butter together until they form pea-sized clumps. Add the buttermilk all at once. Quickly and lightly mix it in until the dough just holds together.
Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface and gently pat it down; then fold it over and gently pat it down again. (Gently. Really.) Lightly roll the dough out to a thickness of about ¾ inch and cut out biscuits with a straight-sided 2- or 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter. Cut straight down, without twisting. Place the biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet with space between them and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are just turning golden. Serve immediately.
NB: Watch your biscuits, when I made this recipe, they cooked in 10 minutes. Remember all ovens are different! After cutting the biscuits, take the scraps and gently mush together dough the size of a large egg and round it into a dome shape. Place them onto a prepared cookie sheet. They will be ugly, but just as tasty, and you can’t say fairer than that.