Cooking and memories go hand and hand for my friend, Hilly. Born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, he is a southerner who loves to talk food, which often leads him to talking of his grandmother. An excellent cook, she had no need for recipes, relying instead on her finely tuned senses. Along the way, she taught Hilly how not just to cook, but the importance of seeing, listening, feeling, smelling and tasting food. Making Lee-Lee proud, Hilly went on to culinary school and has been in the food business ever since. His wonderful wife, Michele is featured above as well as the inspiration for this recipe, Grandma Lee-Lee herself, who passed on just one year ago. Hilly recreated her biscuit recipe from memory. He loves these biscuits because they're light and fluffy and were a staple in Lee-Lee's kitchen every morning.
The ingredients you'll need are:
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup plain cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 cup milk. May use buttermilk as an option.
Heat the oven at 450 degrees, (425 for a convection oven.) Mix first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl. Using a pair of knives or a pastry blender, cut the chilled, cubed butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. (Mistakes to avoid: be sure not to over mix, use only chilled butter and do NOT use your fingers to combine ingredients) Next, stir in milk with a fork until mixture forms into a soft, slightly sticky ball. If dough feels firm and dry bits are not gathering, sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of milk. Again, be careful not to over mix (the key to a good biscuit.)
Max, Hilly and Michele's 3 year old son helped make the biscuits and he's learning his cooking lessons early from his dad, "That's perfect, we don't want to mix too much...can't mix with your hands buddy, here use this..." I bet lil' Max will be as good a chef as Hilly one day...he's already better than me, ha!
Hilly introduced me to a baking must-have I had no idea existed. The Silpat baking mat can be added to any baking sheet and is a non stick surface that is ridiculously easy to use. No more greasing baking sheets and baked items slide off with ease. It's a great gift for anybody who likes to bake and I hope my mom isn't reading this.
"Drop" your spoonfuls of dough onto your baking tray, about an inch apart. Bake until the biscuits are light brown, 10-12 minutes. Serve immediately.
These Southern Drop Biscuits are highly addictive. As soon as they came out of the oven, I had to have one and they truly are perfection, I hope you try.
Thank you Hilly, Michele and Max for sharing Grandma Lee-Lee's recipe with us. Stay tuned for an upcoming recipe with Hilly that's a bit more on the sweeter side...
Photos and Content: Sweet Peach