My American “roots” lie deeply in Southern Cooking, with my first memories being the smell of hot biscuits pulled straight from the oven. My grandmother, known to us as Big Mama, makes the best in the world. They are still my most favorite food… but only when SHE makes them.
I spent summers with my grandparents in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. It was too hot to go outside, there was only one TV, and the nearest store was a 20-minute drive away. The only thing and best thing to do was to help Big Mama make biscuits. My favorite part was cutting the dough into little circles. I even had my own biscuit cutter!
Every year I looked forward to these special moments with just her and me. Big Mama is beloved by EVERYONE, so selfishly this was my favorite moment because I felt it was “our” time. It was also how I learned to cook and where I gained my own passion for baking…and eating.
Far away from Big Mama: are they biscuits or scones?
However, when I traveled abroad for the first time I was often offered “biscuits” for afternoon snacks with coffee. I was then subsequently disappointed when dry cookies were brought to me… not the soft, fluffy, buttery bread of my childhood. I would then explain what I thought “biscuits” were. To this, my new friends would say “Oh! You mean scones.”
I was so confused.
There were later many heated arguments with friends over these words and names, and hours of Google searches set out to prove the other party wrong.
Whether you call it a biscuit or a scone, one thing is universal: this is the food that I believe shows LOVE.
Biscuits (like bread) show true love
Bread takes hours, sometimes days of labor. It is fragile. It is not easy to master. It is something that takes time, care, patience, and above all love to prepare. When you eat bread, just like when I eat Big Mama’s biscuits, you are experiencing someone’s love for you.
Bread is also found in nearly every culture.
When my mother came to visit me in Istanbul, upon eating her first ‘poğaca’ (Turkish bread roll), she remarked, “I love this! It’s like a biscuit!” I had never thought that before, but when she said it, it clicked. Yes, this Turkish ‘ev poğaca’ (meaning homemade bread roll) was buttery, flaky, and the perfect shape to accompany breakfast or a big meal. It’s savory but can also be made sweet with jam or cheese.
“It’s like a biscuit!” she said. But … it’s not!
It’s another culture’s traditional bread and the way they show love.
If I invite you for dinner and have made you some sort of bread (especially biscuits), you can be sure that I am telling you that I love and care deeply for you. Think about this the next time you “break bread” with a friend over dinner.
Easy Southern Biscuits Recipe
No, this isn’t Big Mama’s recipe. Not because I don’t want to share it, I absolutely would. But I have to be honest; her recipe is one of those recipes that cannot be made unless you are her. In fact, the recipe itself is simple but everyone in my family who has ever tried to make these biscuits at their own home has more or less failed. Only I have been successful, and even then, it’s hit or miss.
Sometimes they are amazing and bring me to tears, leading me down memory lane.
Other times they are hard little rocks and I cry for other reasons.
So I decided to share with you the biscuits I make constantly and have wowed guests with at parties. Also… they are EASY and will always produce flaky, fluffy, buttery, dreamy pillows of ‘love’.
INGREDIENT (8 large biscuits, 12 smallish ones)
- 270g flour
- 125g butter (cut this into cubes and keep it cold)
- 170ml kefir or milk (can also use yogurt with water added)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Next, add the cubes of butter. Using two knives cut the butter into the flour. You can also use your hands to rub the butter and flour together. You want to break it up so that the butter and flour form small beads or little balls. It won’t be smooth.
Next, add the kefir/milk little by little just until it makes a sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and pat it with your hands into a medium rectangle. It will still look crumbly. That’s ok. Take one side of the dough rectangle and fold it over and onto itself. Then flatten it out into a rectangle again. Take the opposite side of the rectangle (the one you didn’t fold before) and fold it up and over onto the dough rectangle. Flatten the dough into a rectangle again. Repeat this two more times.
Once the dough has had its four folds, flatten it with your hands into its final rectangle. It should be about 25 x 20 cm (roughly, that’s an estimate). Cut the dough into eight squares with a sharp knife.
Place the squares (space them out a bit) onto a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.
Cook them for 12 minutes.
Eat warm with lots of butter or with butter and jam if having for breakfast and feel loved!