I have always thought that you could gain insight into a place, a people or a culture through its food. At the very least, you could learn about its history. So, in my hunger to learn more about this place I have landed, I have started collecting Texas cookbooks and reading them like you’d read a novel.
I made these biscuits last night and they were pretty good.
I found it in a cookbook called, “Texas Eats, The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook” by Robb Walsh. I found this recipe in the chapter called, “Boardinghouse Fare.”
The author expounds about the growth of the Piney Woods region of East Texas and the history of the lumber industry there. He says, “The boardinghouses of the lumber baron era are gone now. Some of the recipes in this chapter were inspired by tales from those old boardinghouse cooks.”
I was inspired to make them by the promise, “These biscuits are easy to make and come out perfect every time.” Well, how can you beat that?
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
3 cups pastry flour, preferably White Lily brand
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, or more as needed
Cane syrup or fruit preserves, for serving
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan.
Cut 1 tablespoon off the stick of butter and set it aside. Cut the rest of the butter stick lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into small cubes.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Put 1 cup of the flour mixture in a pie pan and set aside. Scatter the butter cubes over the remaining flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, work the butter cubes into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork to mix. The dough should be wet. Continue to stir until the dough resembles cottage cheese, adding more buttermilk if needed to achieve the correct consistency. Do not overwork.
Butter an ice cream scoop and scoop up a ball of dough. Plop the wet ball of dough into the flour in the pie pan. Roll the ball in the flour, gently shaping it, then pick it up and roll it gently in your cupped hand, shaking off any excess flour. Place the ball in the prepared cake pan. Repeat until all of the dough is used, arranging the balls very close together in the cake pan. You should have 10 biscuits.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, melt the reserved 1 tablespoon butter. When the biscuits are ready, remove from the oven and immediately brush with the melted butter. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Invert the pan onto a flat plate, then lift off the pan, releasing the biscuits. Place another plate on top of the upside-down biscuits and turn the plates over again so the biscuits are right side up on the serving plate. Serve immediately with cane syrup or preserves.