Friday, June 5, 2009


Some things we're born with and we can easily identify which side of the family it came from. For instance my naturally curly hair? My mom's side. My height (err... should I say, lack thereof)? My dad's side. Physical attributes are certainly the easiest to lock down as being genetic.

Personality attributes? Not so easy. Who knows... they could be inherent or they could be learned. Can my silly sense of humor be traced to my mother or my paternal grandma's genes? Or is it from living with my silly mother and being around my silly grandmother? I think most people would agree that personality traits are more learned, than they are passed down genetically. But, some of these things... things like... green thumbs, good luck, and general disposition can be as much genetic as the color of your eyes.

Science may disagree with me... but when have I ever listened to what other people tell me (genetically passed down from many of my "dance to our own beat" relatives no doubt)? Yeah, that's right. NEVER.

Like most girls raised in the south, I come from a long line of biscuit makers. And not just any biscuit makers... excellent biscuit makers. Sadly, I can really only attest for one of my grandmother's biscuits as I wasn't ever at my paternal grandmother's for breakfast, but I'm assured that both grandmas biscuits were excellent. Different and uncomparable, but excellent.

Now, that brings up a good point. There are many types of biscuits out there. But the two general camps are... light, fluffy, and airy or heavy, dense, and flat. I'm an equal opportunity biscuit lover, but if I had to pick one type over the other (forced to choose at gunpoint, mind you), I'd pick the heavier, densier biscuit. Just personal preference.

I've been on a bit of a quest to find the perfect biscuit recipe for me. Something that defines me as a biscuit maker. Not exactly like either grandma's, not exactly like my mom's or my aunt's, but my own.

I haven't quite found it yet, but to be fair... I haven't quite mastered the technique yet either. But, I'm getting there... and I'll keep trying... eventually I'll get it. It's in my blood.
Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits
The Gift of Southern Cooking Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock

I originally heard of Edna Lewis by way of Rebecca's incredibly awesome and hiliarous blog Ezra Pound Cake, but I ended up stealing the recipe from A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen.

I didn't use lard this time, I used a combination of butter and shortening. BUT, I will try this recipe again with lard. Lard is the key to good biscuits, and hell... you only live once and as long as you aren't eating it everyday... is a little lard gonna kill ya? Nope, but it will make feel like you've died and gone to heaven when you bit into a biscuit made with lard.

5 cups sifted White Lily Unbleached Flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder (See below)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold lard
1 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F with rack in middle

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into large bowl.

Add lard, coating it with flour, then rub between your fingertips until coarsely blended with some 1/2 inch lumps.

Make a well in flour mixture, then add buttermilk, stirring with a fork just until dough forms(it will be soft & sticky). Turn dough onto floured board and need 8-10 times.

Roll dough out with a floured rolling pin into a 12 inch round (1/2 inch thick).

Using a fork dipped in flour prick all the way through every 1/2 inch.

Cut out as many rounds possible with a 2 1/2 inch cutter dipped in flour.

Bake, almost touching on an un-greased heavy baking sheet, rotating sheet after 6 minutes if browning unevenly for 12-15 minutes.

Brush tops with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Serve warm.

Cooks Note: Flour mixture with lard can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Recipe yields 10-15 biscuits. Be careful not to add to much flour as the dough should be sticky.

Homemade Baking Powder Recipe; Edna Lewis

1/4 cup cream of tartar
2 tablespoons baking soda

Sift ingredients 3 times together, store in an airtight jar. Use in the same quantity as required baking powder. Keeps 6 weeks.