Food & Drink

Biscuits: A Love Story

Makes about 24

He always saved a biscuit for her, and she joked that she’d marry him if he kept it up

photo: Whitney Otawka


Whitney Otawka has been cooking in Georgia for a decade.

Still, the chef at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island has yet to make a biscuit. Growing up in California, she didn’t eat biscuits, turnip greens, or crackling cornbread.

Then she met Ben Wheatley, from Washington, Georgia.

Wheatley made the biscuits at Athens restaurant 5&10, where Otawka worked the line. She lent a hand. “Before he did the last fold, I’d punch the dough,” she says. “I’d leave a fist mark in it. Then I’d always claim that the biscuits turned out right just because I punched them.”

He always saved a biscuit for her, and she joked that she’d marry him if he kept it up. Ten years later, she made good on that promise. They’ve been married for three months.

She still punches the dough before he folds it, but she lets him do the rest of the work. “He makes them so well there’s no point,” she says. But she doesn’t agree with him on everything. She likes her biscuits with butter, and he prefers his with sausage and grape jelly.

If you don’t feel like waking up early to make these biscuits, prep them the night before. “They’re actually delicious the next morning,” Otawka says. Freeze cut dough rounds on a sheet tray and bake them from frozen for 20 minutes.

 


Ingredients

    • 1 lb. unsalted butter (4 sticks), frozen, plus 3 tbsp. melted for brushing

    • 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

    • 4 tbsp. baking powder

    • 2 tbsp. kosher salt

    • 3 1/2 cups buttermilk


Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°

  2. Grate 1 lb. butter into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater, and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

  3. In another bowl, combine 8 cups flour and the baking powder. Add the salt and mix well.

  4. Once the butter is very cold and hard, add it to the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Slowly add the buttermilk and use your hands to gently bring the dough together.

  5. Dump dough onto a lightly floured countertop and dust it with flour. Knead the dough until it just comes together, taking care not to overwork it.

  6. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to a thickness of 1 inch. Fold the dough in half from top to bottom, and then lightly roll it out again and fold it from side to side. Roll it out one more time, and then stamp out biscuits with a 3-inch biscuit cutter.

  7. Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form the scraps into a ball, roll it out, and stamp out more biscuits. (Discard the overworked remaining scraps.)

  8. Melt the 3 tbsp. butter and brush the tops of the biscuits. Bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.

Recipe from chef Ben Wheatley


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