ATLANTA - It's perfect for Mother's Day, bridal showers, and baby showers! A biscuit bar brunch makes it both easy to entertain and delicious way to feed a crowd. Georgia Chef Virginia Willis stops by Good Day Atlanta with the secret to making stress free biscuits.
For more information on Virginia Willis or her new book "Secrets of The Southern Table" click here.
4 cups White Lily or other Southern all-purpose flour, or cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for rolling out
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
2 cups buttermilk
- Heat the oven to 500°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. (You can also bake the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.)
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until just barely combined. It will be a shaggy mass. (Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a food processor: Pulse to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the butter and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk through the feed tube and pulse until just barely combined. It will be a shaggy mass.)
- Turn the shaggy mass out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat four or five times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.)
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1 inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 3½-inch round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked.
- Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. If the biscuits are baked close together, the sides will be tender. If the biscuits are baked farther apart, the sides will be crisp. (I always say biscuits are like people: If you are close to your neighbor, you will be tender, and if you aren’t close to your neighbor, you will be crisp!)
- Once you’ve punched out the first round from the dough, you can reroll the scraps. However, do not simply roll them into a ball; this will create a knot of gluten strands. Instead, place the pieces one on top of the other in layers. Then roll out and repeat punching out the biscuits.
- Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool just slightly. Serve warm.
Black Pepper Cream Cheese Biscuits
Makes 36 (1½-inch) biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the biscuits
2 tablespoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ to 1 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing the biscuits
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the top
Sliced ham, for serving (optional)
Pear Mostarda (recipe follows)
- Heat the oven to 500°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse to combine. Add ¾ cup of the buttermilk and the pepper; process until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl, adding the remainder of the buttermilk, if necessary. The dough should pull from the sides of the bowl. (In testing, I found that 1 cup was necessary with King Arthur all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup was more appropriate for White Lily flour.)
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you, and then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat four or five times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.)
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 9-inch square about ¾ inch thick. Using a chef’s knife or a long utility knife, cut the biscuits into 1½-inch squares. (Don’t drag the knife through the dough, but instead press the knife directly through the dough. This will help prevent pinched edges.)
- Use an offset spatula or pancake turner to move the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, keeping them close together. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with additional pepper.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 450°F. Bake, rotating the pan once, until nicely browned and the temperature registers 205°F, about 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with sliced ham and Pear Mostarda.
Makes 2 cups
¾ cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
6 firm Bosc pears, cored, peeled, and diced (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan. Add the pears and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the pears are tender but still hold their shape and most of the liquid has cooked away, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely before serving. The mostarda is best made a few days before serving so that the flavors can meld and intensify. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Excerpted from SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE © 2018 by Virginia Willis. Photographs © 2018 by Angie Mosier. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.