The American Baking Competition finalist Francine Bryson bakes her Southern-style cakes, pies and biscuits with love and tips and tricks from the women in her family in Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen.
I’m about to admit something I never thought I would: I couldn’t make a proper buttermilk biscuit until I turned forty-four. Nana tried to teach me all my life, but somehow I could never make them right—even when I watched her and used her recipe and practiced and practiced and practiced.
When I tried out for The American Baking Competition, we had to make something, but we didn’t know what it would be. I saw all the ingredients out and all I could think was Please, God, don’t make me make biscuits! I turned over that recipe page, and, of course, there it was: Southern-style biscuits. Within seconds there’s a producer up in my face saying, “If there’s anyone who can make Southern biscuits, it’s you!” If only he knew. . . . But because I didn’t have time to think or mess with them too long, they turned out perfect. And that’s the special tip: The trick to making fluffy buttermilk biscuits is not to mess with them too much. If you overwork the dough, they’ll get real tough—trust me, I spent most of my life doing that.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut ¹⁄₂ cup of the butter into ¹⁄₄-inch-thick slices and scatter on top of the flour. Using two forks or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pieces. Add the buttermilk, stirring until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead 3 or 4 times, adding additional flour if needed. Press or pat the dough into a ¹⁄₂-inchthick rectangle. Cut 8 to 12 biscuits (see Blue Ribbon Tips, page 205) and arrange, side by side and touching, on the baking sheet.
- Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the hot biscuits with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to make the tops shiny. Serve warm, drizzled with chocolate gravy, if you like.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen. Copyright © 2014 by Francine Bryson. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Ben Fink. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.