First and foremost, happy New Year! This is my favorite recipe. It’s the one I make the most, the one I could make in my sleep, if I had a predisposition toward somnambulant baking. It’s an art. A thing the body knows. But it isn’t hard. And it doesn’t take long. And with these biscuits you can break hearts and best foes and bend the fabric of space time to allow yourself to live all the parallel lives you feel you’re missing out on. I may be overstating their abilities. But I might not. You’ll probably just need to make them and mull over their potentiality with a cup of tea or coffee.
It’s New Years day today. Well, actually it’s about 2 AM on New Years Eve. I didn’t celebrate. Unless you count making & eating a biscuit with ham, working, being undefeated at Clue like a diabolical genius, and transcribing some fevered facsimile of one of those parallel universes these biscuits may or may not have the ability to open a wormhole to. You know, partying.
The past year has been nothing short of confounding, brilliant in its utter & complete unknowability prior to the fact. The people that entered my life, returned to my life, the various forms they morphed into, the stories I’ve gotten to live. I couldn’t have called any of it if I’d tried. I’ve always admitted that if living has taught me much of anything it’s taught me that I’m no soothsayer. My ability to predict the future is nil. And that’s wonderful. Each time I think my story is written in stone, I get to learn it isn’t all over again. It’s terrifying. It’s keeps my blood pumping.
My intention for this year is to not tell it what it’s going to be. And to keep doing my best with what I’ve got when I’ve got it. Because ultimately when it comes to my creative work & life as lived thus far—from the things I’m most ashamed of to the things I’m most proud of—I don’t know that I would change any of it. I like a diverse narrative, what can I say. And ultimately, winding as it may be, I always end up where I’m supposed to be.
The day after tomorrow I leave for Italy to teach a workshop in Venice. Venice is the first city I ever traveled to in Europe when I was 15 years old. For a brief Scarlet Pimpernel fueled moment I thought I was terribly in love one night in those streets. I even wept for the stranger that night. About a month later he would write me an email that lamented “God save American girls!” Almost ten years later, I went there again on my star-crossed honeymoon. I’ve written stories on top of stories there, and I look forward to writing more. I’m looking forward to the change of pace, the work, my friends both known & to be met. I bought rain boots. I’m inordinately excited about them. I’ll be a bit off the grid, but I’ll be sharing my travels on instagram if you’d like to follow along.
Wishing you all ease & peace this year. And if not that, then then may it be a fire that consumes you only to birth you anew. Phoenix like. Those sorts of years are good too, in their way. There’s nothing quite so transcendent as being destroyed so you can become more than the sum of your shattered parts. Easy to say, harder in the moment. But no less true.
Flaky + Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch
- 2 cups (250 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (56 grams / 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into dice
- scant cup (230 grams) real buttermilk like Cruze Farm's
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Using your fingers cut the butter into the flour mixture until it's just crumbled and no pieces larger than a pea remain.
- Pour in the buttermilk. Stir just until all the dry bits are incorporated, no longer. It should be sticky and shaggy. Not dry. Not wet. Sometimes humidity can affect this. You'll get used to your dough and know when to add a splash extra or flour your surface a little more heavily. Biscuits are an art, not a science. Okay, they're largely a science. But science is art. I digress.
- Lightly flour a work surface and turn your dough out onto it. Lightly flour the top of your dough and use your hands to pat it out into a rectangle a little over an inch thick.
- Fold that rectangle toward you, rotate the dough counter clockwise, roll it out gently using a wooden rolling pin. Use a "bouncing" motion from the center of the dough, careful to not crush the outer edges and destroy your layers. It's important to roll very gently.
- Repeat the folding and rolling two more times. Sometimes I add an extra fold if I'm feeling extra foldy.
- Roll the dough out to about an inch thick and using a floured biscuit cutter, cut your biscuits (be sure to not twist your cutter, it will seal the edges and they won't rise as well, gently gathering and re-rolling the scraps until the dough is used up, placing the cut biscuits touching one another on a lightly greased baking sheet (they will help each other rise, that's why you want them touching. . But I'm not gonna light, I don't bother to grease mine. I also don't brush them with anything. I like them simple, simple.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your biscuits, the weather, and your oven. They should be golden brown and fluffily cooked through. Enjoy warm with all manner or honey, sausage, jams, ham, and, of course, good butter.