Spread them with butter, jams or jellies, slather them in gravy, or create a sandwich for any time of day. Savoury or sweet, biscuits are always there for you. Simple ingredients but also lovely and versatile foods—butter, flour, salt, milk or cream, and baking powder. A kind of perfection and calm in this chaotic world.
I decided on Martha Stewart’s recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits. Why? Because it's Martha. Self made, household name, icon, lawbreaker, ex-model, ex-stockbroker, jack of all trades and entrepreneur - Martha. I recently found out that it wasn’t until her 30s when Martha became a self taught gourmet cook through the use of Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking”. (Side note on Julia—I can't help but mention that at 37 she enrolls at Le Cordon Bleu in a foreign country, among mostly men and becomes a culinary icon. Hence, total badass.) Back to Martha — she starts a catering business in her late 30s and that’s where her current career stemmed from. As a 30 year old woman, I love this. I spent my 20s mostly confused and floundering around trying to find something that I was “supposed to do with my life”. Stories like Martha and Julia's remind me that all is okay in the world. That I've got lots of time. That doing things which thrill me and slow down time into fragments of beautiful moments are what I want to repeat. Those moments that seem to linger in a suspended state of focus and ease with no background noise. Sometimes they're seconds, sometimes minutes. We need more of those... Enter biscuit making.
Why These Biscuits?
1. Because they’re delicious and I love to eat them. Duh.
How I picture myself eating biscuits: Biting elegantly into delicate flakiness while using a tea saucer to catch my crumbs. I slowly savour every bite alternating with a sip of tea, whilst sitting in peaceful meditation gazing out a sunlit window. Birds are chirping softly in the background.
How I actually eat biscuits: Remove biscuits from oven. Tell myself I’ll wait until they cool. One minute later I tell myself it’s been 10 minutes. I quickly devour the biscuit barely swallowing one bite before taking the next. My mouth is burnt (a chronic problem in my life) because apparently I have no patience or self control. A few crumbs hit the plate while most are falling onto the table and floor. I am cookie monster in human female form. I proceed to eat 1 or 2 more, quickly stuffing myself and then immediately swearing off biscuits for the rest of the day—crumbs falling out of my mouth as I shake my finger to no one in the empty room, like that will make it official. I abandon that resolution a few hours later and have another, thinking back wondering how I could ever deny myself something so beautiful.
2. Because these are made with cream and delicious when topped with honey. Hence, “Cream + Honey”. Clearly, it was meant to be for my first post. (Also, I’m sorry these are not buttermilk biscuits for the people who are adamant that biscuits should be made with buttermilk. Forgive me—I promise they are still delicious. Amen.
3. Because who doesn’t love fresh warm biscuits?! I dare you to find one person. Just the words “homemade biscuits” make me imagine tenderly wrapping them up in a blanket and dancing about while singing to the birds and squirrels around me. (I like imagining I live in a magical forest. I actually live in a city so it’s probably just the garbage outside that attracts the animals. And by birds and squirrels I meant raccoons and rats. They need love too people!)
4. Because Martha is the f*#$ing s*&t!
5. Because you can literally put anything on them. Like anything! Well, not poison. But that’s pretty much it. Unless you're one of those people who can do crazy tricks and eat anything like light bulbs or poison. (note: I do not condone eating light bulbs or poison.)
Okay, now for the biscuits!
The pre-oven mess I call "art".
Ta da! Magic! (or as some people call it, "science".)
(top to bottom: lemon curd, honey, Seville orange jam, maple butter, butter, blackcurrent jam)
You can even make little baby biscuits!!! (Everything in mini form is exciting)
Brunch isn't really brunch until bacon and/or eggs are on the table.
The perfect brunch to me is a balance of savoury and sweet—it's like having two meals in one. I'm insatiable like that.
Welcome the Brunch Biscuit:
Maple drizzled bacon, egg, old cheddar, thyme butter and sriracha sauce (insert 100 happy emoji faces here).
Eat it as slow or fast as you like. Moaning during is encouraged, it makes it better, trust me.
Bask in what you've just created and consumed. Commit to eating a green vegetable later.
Take a nap.
B I S C U I T S
t h e m a g i c
i n s p i r a t i o n : brunch + the south
f e e l s : comforting, homey, indulging
e a t w i t h : tea, coffee, butter (obviously), herb butter (fancy!), honey, cinnamon, maple butter, maple syrup, jams/jellies, lemon curd, whipped cream + strawberries, gravy!!!, baked beans, breakfast things (bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, cheese, mushrooms, tomato, avocado), potato leek soup.
m i g h t l i k e i f y o u ' r e i n t o : comfort food, southern hospitality, all things that include butter, blaring music and singing your heart out, a thin layer of flour dust on everything you own.
t h e s c i e n c e
Martha Stewart's Baking Powder Biscuits from "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook"
makes 1 dozen medium-sized biscuits
i n g r e d i e n t s :
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
m e t h o d :
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Add all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together.
- Cut in cold butter pieces with a pastry blender (or 2 butter knives). Continue until the pieces of butter range in size with none larger than the size of a pea.
- Add cream and fold into the dough with a spatula. Continue folding until the dough just comes together. It should be slightly sticky and scraggy.
- Place the dough onto lightly floured surface. With gentle hands, pat the dough into a round approximately 1 inch thick incorporating any loose pieces.
- Take a floured round biscuit cutter of your choice, cut out the biscuits and place onto baking sheet. ***
- Place all the biscuits in the middle with edges touching each other.
- Brush top of biscuits with cream.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the biscuits are golden (rotate halfway through time).
- Place biscuits on wire rack to cool.
*Tips for better biscuit making: Just a few things I've learned that seem to make the most difference in flakiness, rise and overall beauty of biscuits.
- Cold ingredients are key. Of course the butter but I've made my best biscuits by putting my whisked dry ingredients in the fridge for 30 minutes before. By using a pastry blender or knives you can keep the ingredients from taking on as little warmth as possible. I really love getting my hands dirty but my biscuits apparently don't feel the same. If your dough feels a bit warm after working it on the counter you can always put it in the fridge for a bit to cool down and firm up the butter again.
- Work the dough as little as possible when patting it out. The gluten becomes activated and therefore your biscuits become chewier and not as flaky.
- *** When using a biscuit cutter, do not twist it after you push down. It feels like the natural thing to do to remove the biscuit from the dough but this will shrink and close the layers (lines on the sides of the cooked biscuits that make it look and feel super flaky) . So just push the cutter down then release up instead of twisting. It makes a world of difference.
- If you prefer fluffier biscuits— keep them together touching on the baking sheet when cooking.
- If you prefer crunchier biscuits on the outside - place them away from each other, not touching.