How a Southern Girl moved to Northern California to learn how to make Biscuits from a Persian Chef
It has been a fun summer-to-fall for me. I joined Food52's Cookbook Club on Facebook. It seems trite to say it has been incredible being a part of an on-line cooking community, but it truly has. We live all over the country and are bonded by our love of cooking and feeding ourselves, family and friends. I joined in time for be a part of Melissa Clark's Dinner: Changing the Game. I purchased the book in the Spring and was happy to share my favorites and be inspired by other Cookbook Club participants.
September landed me between the pages of Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nostrat (provided a link to purchase a signed book at Food52 but I have the most amazing bookstore in my neighborhood that only carries cookbooks and books on food called Omnivore Books where I got my signed copy). I have been reading the book as suggested, like a book, taking in the wealth of knowledge about the science of cooking. I only posted about my biggest success of the month, Light and Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits on p. 392. The Food52 Cookbook Club participants were posting left and right about this recipe and finally, I decided to try myself. Samin's introduction is wonderful and sets the standard for FOLLOWING every step of the full-proof method. She credits learning from Tom Purtill of Oakland Mamma
Bakers out there, I know you think, what is the big deal? To me personally, this is a very big deal. I am a Southerner for goodness sake, with a long history of bread making on both sides. My children grew up eating what I like to think of as discs meant to usher homemade Jam in to our mouths. I love that they remember fondly my biscuit-making and are so kind to say how good they were and how much they loved them. Dear children of mine, they should know better, as they spend every summer in Virginia.
I pulled the family bread bowl off the shelf for this project. It was originally gifted to my paternal grandparents Fanny Alice and George Lillburn (yes, you say both names, they are Southern) for their wedding in 1905. My Grandmother made certain that there were my Grandfather's favorite Parker House Rolls on the evening Dinner Table and Sunday Supper table. Could you imagine this happening in today's busy world? When my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and they moved out of my childhood home, I asked for a very few things. I wanted small items to fit in my urban space, things that had meaning and fit in to my modern lifestyle. This bread bowl was among top of my list. The napkin in the photos was also a family heirloom. The lore is that the set was made from the flax grown on the family property.
I started the project on a Saturday morning while everyone was asleep so I could concentrate. As the mixer was churning for 8 minutes, yes I said 8 minutes and then 4 more, my daughter Eva came out and joined the project. By the time I got to dusting the island with flour, my son Branch joined the process. The step that I attribute to the success was folding the dough several times, creating the layers that make a biscuit a biscuit. We used biscuit cutters to cut sweet rounds and off they went in to the oven.
We sat entranced, watching the pastry rise and and brown. It was like watching the making of fine art. When the biscuits were placed on the rack to cool, we just marveled at them. When we sat down to try them, the comments and flattery started flying and did not stop. We have not stopped talking about these delicious treats.
When I posted about the project on the group page, I said that next time I would hand pat the dough instead of rolling on the final step, as I like the tops better that way. My big moment came when Samin herself commented on my post that she suggested cutting the biscuits next time in to squares. Next time, I will indeed.