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Yes, there is a difference

Homemade biscuits and jam (with French butter of course)

I've made biscuits 7 times in the last two weeks.

A simple craving turned into a quest for the perfect recipe that would produce the perfect biscuit - light, fluffy, buttery. You know, the kind a Southern grandma would whip up for Sunday brunch.

I'm not from the South and had no family recipes to consult, so google it was. There were so many claiming to be "the best" or "my grandma's" that it was hard to decide which to try first. Then I stumbled upon this one on Recipe Zaar. The recipe was pretty similar to others I found (flour, buttermilk, baking power, etc.), but what made this one stand out was the directions. They were very simple, but included tips that sounded like they'd make a difference (pat, don't roll). Detailed instructions coupled with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and I decided to give it a go.

I followed the directions diligently and handled the dough as if it were a precious commodity. I mixed gently, patted gently, was careful not to overwork the dough, etc. As I placed the biscuits in the oven, I felt confident, a bit cocky even.

But ten minutes later, I presented hard hockey pucks to my family.

What happened? Back to google. A nice woman from Kentucky suggested that I check the baking powder expiration date. Ooops! October 2009. So back to the mixing bowl. Once again, I mixed gently, patted gently and was careful not to overwork the dough.

Ten minutes later? Soft hockey pucks.

What the?!? Back to google. Again and again. With each try, I got better, but something wasn't right. Where were the puffy soft, buttery good biscuits of my dreams? Finally, Amy from Georgia let the cat out of the bag:

"It's your Northern flour. You need White Lily flour."

White Lily Flour? Never heard of it. But I was invested in getting this right, so a few minutes later, I ordered some from Southern Connoisseur. It came late last week, and guess what? Great biscuits.

Granted, I also had practice. I learned that you could underwork the dough as well (biscuits don't rise), and that the biscuits had to touch on the pan or else they wouldn't be as soft. The whole process taught me something about regional cuisine: regional ingredients matter.

Next, I plan to make my friend Ken's gumbo (I'm on a Southern food kick). He provides the recipe and details his process in his book, and suggests that you order real cajun sausage.

Given the past weeks' lessons, I won't dare use a substitution, so I'm off to the Cajun Grocer.

35 comments

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by Jennifer@nicolejanehome

That's it! I'm makin' biscuits for breakfast! Thanks for the gorgeous photos.

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by nichole

Lindsey –

Can you get cake flour? Someone also suggested that.

Also, if you sift it really well before you do it that may help.

My sixth try was with sifted cake flour and it was close.

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by Lindsey

so basically, you got my hope's up. As I clicked the link to recipe zaar I said to myself, ooh my next kitchen adventure! Then my heart sank when I saw it would require flour that I couldn't possibly get if you, as a northerner, had to order it. Should I even try?? Oh how I want to!

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by Karena

Very nice, wow yummy!! Love your site!!

Giveaway by Beth Cosner Designs is up on my site. Come visit and spread the word!!

Karena

Art by Karena

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by nichole

Lemon –

What is it about grandma's recipes?

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by Lemon

oh, you've inspired me for a new culinary adventure! and p.s. i have gone on a google hunt through all the "bests" and "my grandma's" before, it made me smile to see you had written that!

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by Wahzat Gayle

LOL this is like me and my quest to make the perfect sugar cookie from scratch. Or that elusive cupcake that I am trying to nail.
So happy that you nailed though.

Very funny post. Have a great day

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by calicodaisy

Absolutely. White Lily. But now it's being milled up north, I think! You should be able to get some locally. I see I'm another SC commenter today. — michele

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by Linda

Please send samples.

Jul 19, 2014 • Posted by nichole

Fiona –

Thanks! I think a lot of focus is put on the "recipe," but often it's the technique and ingredients.

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