A while ago on The Splendid Table I heard Lynne Rossetto Kasper interview a dear southern lady who talked about southern biscuits and all the love and low-gluten passion that went into their making. She said that when she teaches beginners how to make biscuits, she starts with an easy recipe that only requires two ingredients: self-rising flour and heavy cream.
I was intrigued.
Well, I don’t have self-rising flour but you just add baking powder and salt to regular flour, so that wasn’t a problem. (Lloyd is quick to point out that this is actually a four-ingredient recipe. Whatever.)
I halved the recipe (as is my custom) and figured that I needed:
A cup of flour (plus 1/8 more if needed)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
A half-cup of cream, plus a a little more if needed.
Ok! Here we go! Except that I realized that I barely had a cup of flour, and I needed to keep some in reserve for patting out the dough. Crud. This was going to involve math. Fraction math.
Nope. Estimating would have to do – accurate math is for accountants and bankers. I just scaled everything else back a little. A little less baking powder, and what I thought was a little less salt.
Then I started to pour in the cream. You’ll noticed that there is almost a cup of cream in that cup, not half a cup. D’oh! I realized it as I was pouring, though, and only poured in (maybe) the right amount.
Whatever. Stir it a bit, but not too much because you don’t want it to get tough. Oh, I should mention that I put a tablespoon of sugar in this because I was doing the ‘shortcake’ variation. (“Five ingredients,” Lloyd hollers.)
Pat out the dough. Fold it over and pat it again. Fold and pat. That’s enough already. We’re not doing laundry here.
Cut, cut, cut.
Bake, bake, bake.
As I checked them mid-way I actually exclaimed, “Holy cow! This is working!” They looked all flaky-ish, and I was mightily pleased.
I could barely wait for them to cool! I whipped up the rest of the cream, slathered that biscuit with berries, set a cup of coffee up as a prop, snapped a photo, then dug in.
Bleh. I don’t think I scaled back the salt enough. Either that or that dough needed heaps more sugar. The texture was a little wet, too, like it could have baked a minute or two more. It wasn’t awful, but it certainly wasn’t the transcendent moment I was going for.
Whatever. Let’s just look at the photo again, shall we?