Sunday, June 29, 2008

Easy Biscuits

I can't say I've ever had a real Southern meal. Despite being a city rich with world-class restaurants serving all manner of cuisines, Singapore is not well endowed with eateries serving Southern food (that is, Southern USA — biscuits, gravy, fried chicken, grits, red velvet cake). And no, Popeye's doesn't count.

But I love biscuits. The kind you mop up brown gravy with; the kind they used to serve at McDonald's for breakfast many years ago.

My many attempts at making those flaky, fluffy buttermilk biscuits have all been in vain. Our tropical weather and my non-air-conditioned kitchen make it damn near impossible — which probably says something about my talents and patience, or lack of. So C and I would settle for the Pilsbury variety. That's until they stopped stocking it at Jason's several years ago.

So the long and short of it is that we haven't had biscuits for a while. Well, we stopped at Popeye's one night but they make a poor excuse for biscuits, which don't even come with gravy!

It's a good thing then that I discovered Bon Appetit, Y'All by Virginia Willis. Its catchy title grabbed me immediately, and as it turns out, it is filled with easy-to-do home-style yet refined Southern recipes gleaned from the author's family kitchen. Within its pages are a recipe for Buttermilk Angel Biscuits, which, with its "trio of leaveners protects even the worst of bakers from abject failure", she writes. She must be speaking to me.

But before I tread once more into that familiar territory of biscuit failure, I figured I'd have a go at a decidedly easier recipe for Mayonnaise Biscuits. It is such a simple throw-everything-together recipe that the even author confesses to — in her younger, more foolish days — regarding it as one step above a baking mix. Be that as it may, it yielded such fabulous results that I am now determined to try her recipe for Buttermilk Angel Biscuits.

When I eventually find the time to, that is.

Mayonnaise Biscuits
adapted from Bon Appetit, Y'All by Virginia Willis
(Makes 9-12, depending on the size of your muffin tins)

1 tbsp canola oil, for brushing your tins
2 cups self-raising flour (I made mine by following Ms Willis' instructions to mix 1 cup cake flour with 1 cup plain flour, 3 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp fine sea salt)
1 cup milk
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Brush muffin tins with the oil.
3. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
4. Using an ice-cream scoop, drop a scoopful of batter into each muffin tin and bake for 20–30 mins, or until golden brown. Serve warm.