Expect the Unexpected

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Recipe Reveal: You need a biscuit

Don't travel 1,000 miles for a biscuit, make your own.

Don’t travel a thousand miles for a soft, fluffy biscuit. It’s so easy to make your own.

Who would travel 1,000 miles just to eat a biscuit?

Ummm… ME

In 2003, my husband asked if I’d like to go with him to his annual National Institute of Governmental Purchasing convention. Heck, no.  A bean counter’s convention was not exactly my idea of fun. The locations, amongst other things, were usually uninspiring.

Too bad, he said, it’s in Nashville, and….

Say no more! NASHVILLE? The convention is in NASHVILLE?? Ahh, yeah sure honey, I’d love to go with you to the convention, of course!

So I went.

What I didn’t tell him, was the reason I was going. It wasn’t for the Grand Ole Opry (although that was quite entertaining), or the Garth Brooks impersonator at the convention banquet (a bit lame).

LovelessNo, I wanted to go because the Loveless Cafe was in Nashville, and I had heard about their phenomenal biscuits. We finally got there for breakfast on the last day of our trip. And true to word, the biscuits did not disappoint. Crispy on the outside, warm, soft and fluffy on the inside. Served with homemade jam and a slice of country ham. A little bit of heaven on a plate. BEST CONVENTION EVER!

Knowing I’d probably never get back to Nashville again, I decided to learn how to make the Loveless Cafe biscuits myself. Unfortunately there was no recipe available for them — apparently it’s their special secret. Grrr… But how hard could it be to make them? After all, what’s in a biscuit? Some flour, baking powder, milk or buttermilk? It can’t be that difficult. So I scoured the internet for biscuit recipes and set out to recreate those fluffy little masterpieces.

CIRecipe after recipe… and all I got was flat little hard rocks. For the life of me I couldn’t make a good biscuit. I called my mother-in-law, the best Yankee cook I know, for advice. She didn’t make biscuits, so couldn’t help me. I watched videos online… I tried again and again. Batch after batch of hockey pucks. Nooooo…

I had just about given up hope that I would ever be able to make Loveless-worthy biscuits when I spotted the 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine at a bookstore, with the words “Tall, Fluffy Biscuits Drop Them, Bake Them” on the cover. So I bought it.

Mile High Biscuits are a great base for Strawberry Shortcake.

Mile High Biscuits are great for Strawberry Shortcake.

I made CI’s recipe for Mile High Biscuits, fingers crossed they would really be tall and fluffy. As I took them out of the oven, it was if the lights from heaven had opened onto my kitchen. THEY WERE AMAZING! Crisp on the outside but soft and Mmmmmm on the inside.

Now granted, they did not look like the biscuits at the Loveless Cafe, those had been cut from rolled dough. The Mile High Biscuits aren’t rolled, they’re super simple drop biscuits, rolled in flour, brushed with butter, and baked in a round cake pan. But the TASTE and TEXTURE! Like Proust nibbling on a Madeleine, I was transported back to Nashville on the first bite.

So here is the recipe for Mile-High Biscuits adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. So versatile. Great on their own or with butter or jam. For Mother’s Day, I brought them to my mother-in-law’s house and used them as a base for Strawberry Shortcake. You need a good biscuit recipe? You got it!

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Mile-High Biscuits
(Tall and Fluffy)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1 and 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
To form biscuits:
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Spray 9″ round pan with cooking spray, set aside.
3. In food processor, pulse all dry ingredients with butter about 10 times until coarse meal texture.
4. Transfer to bowl and fold in buttermilk with a spatula. Do not overmix. Mixture will be lumpy.
5. Spread 1 cup of flour in 9×13 pan. Spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with cooking spray. Measure out 12 evenly sized mounds of the dough with the measuring cup and put onto the flour in the pan. Flour hands and gently shape each mound into a ball, rolling it in the flour. Do not overwork dough. Does not need to be exact or even.
6.  Place 9 balls around the outer part of the pan, and 3 in the middle. Brush tops lightly with the melted butter.

7. Bake 5 minutes at 500 degrees, then reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake additional 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
8. Cool in pan 2 minutes, pour biscuits onto a clean tea towel. Break apart, cool 5 minutes then serve.


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2 thoughts on “Recipe Reveal: You need a biscuit

  1. Ellen M. on said:

    PJ, I’ve been looking for that mystical biscuit recipe, but gave up earlier on in the search. I am certainly going to try, to see if they match my grandmother’s elusive recipe!!!

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