Natalie Dupree: Southern Biscuits

How do you top a senate campaign in South Carolina?

You make biscuits.

Natalie Dupree was a write-in candidate for the senate in 2010, against Jim DeMint who won the election.

Natalie and co-author Cynthia Graubart turned out Southern Biscuits (Gibbs Smith 2011); a cookbook devoted to all things biscuits.

If you thought there was one master recipe, Natalie shows you the myriad variations from thin and crisp to light and airy – sweet, salty, creamy, and plain.

Learning to cook Southern biscuits enables freedom from commercial fast food and frozen biscuits, inferior biscuits to homemade ones. And it satisfies the soul. People using this book will be able to make biscuits that will make their children weep for them when they are dead and gone just to eat their biscuits again. (p. 14)

If you want to prevent sibling fights after your dead, perfect your biscuits! It may not save Washington DC, but it might just help your family.

There are abundant instructions on everything from the fat to the kneading in the fine introduction. What is most useful is a trouble shooting guide, Common Issues with Biscuits (pp. 28-29) that will help if your dough is too dry or too wet, or the biscuits brown too quickly. Open the book to the step-by-step photographs by
Rick McKee
on p. 30-31, and you’ll feel that Natalie is right there with you in the kitchen.

You can choose a biscuit recipe by what you have on hand – yogurt? Try Busty Yogurt Biscuits (pp. 44-45). Heavy cream? Try Rachel’s Very Beginner Cream Biscuits (pp. 42-43) or Yogurt and Heavy Cream Biscuits (pp. 46-47 if you have both. But don’t stop there. Try the Food Processor Biscuits (pp. 76-77) and go on to the funky named biscuit recipes like Big Nasty Biscuits (pp. 80-81), which calls for shortening, lard, and butter. There are even biscuits that call for olive oil (p. 92).

Once you have your biscuits, Southern Biscuits will show you what to do next. A chapter on Embellished Biscuits includes recipes like Black Pepper Biscuits (pp. 102-103) and Parsley Biscuits with Ham and Honey Mustard (pp. 112-113) and even On-the-Go AM Breakfast Sandwich (pp. 123-124) using “Bomber” Biscuits, ham, eggs, and cheddar cheese. There are more chapters on biscuit-like goodies, leftover biscuits, and sweets.

Southern Biscuits shows just how a humble biscuit can have as many variations as there are cooks to make them.

RECIPE: Yogurt and Heavy Cream Biscuits
Makes 12 to 14 (2-inch) biscuits

We liked both the yogurt and the heavy cream biscuits, but we wanted a subtler tang for some occasions. Mixing the two ingredients made what those who love buttermilk biscuits crave—a tangy light biscuit!

2 1⁄4 cups commercial or homemade self-rising flour, divided
3⁄4 cup heavy cream, divided
1⁄2 cup yogurt
Softened butter, for brushing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Select the baking pan by determining if a soft or crisp exterior is desired. For a soft exterior, select an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan, or oven-proof skillet where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking. For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisper exterior, and brush the pan with butter.

Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of flour in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining 1⁄4 cup flour. Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Pour 1⁄2 cup of the heavy cream, reserving 1⁄4 cup, and the yogurt into the hollow and stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the liquids. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved cream, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Lightly sprinkle a board or other clean surface using some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. With floured hands, fold the dough in half, and pat dough out into a 1⁄3- to 1⁄2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if necessary and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough out into a 1⁄2-inch-thick round for a normal biscuit, 3⁄4-inch-thick for a tall biscuit, and 1-inch-thick for a giant biscuit. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although these scraps make tougher biscuits. For handshaping and other variations, see pages 24–26.

Using a metal spatula if necessary, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 10 to 14 minutes until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back, and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard browning. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes until the biscuits are light golden brown. When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with softened or melted butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.

One comment on “Natalie Dupree: Southern Biscuits
  1. nathalie dupree says:

    Thanks so much, Juliette!

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