Here's a re-publishing of an August 2008 post from The old Transplanted Baker. It was one of the more memorable posts I wrote, having stemmed from a very sad experience and a difficult time. It feels appropriate to place it on the new Transplanted Baker today, because it's a good documentation of the ups and downs of life. Thankfully, I'm on an upward swing at the moment and still enjoy making these biscuits for Norwegians and Americans alike. A winner of a recipe!
It's also Post #2 in my "Bun in the Oven" series. Read about the inspiration here.
There are occasions in one’s life when you bake to celebrate...
Sprinkle covered cupcakes for a 1st birthday. Crème Brule for a 25th wedding anniversary. Apple pie à la mode for the 4th of July picnic table. There are occasions in life when you bake because it’s a rainy Saturday morning and nothing sounds better than a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies and milk. And then there are occasions in life when you bake because you need to in order to get through the day.
Everyone has their favorite comfort foods. A simple, warm soup that seems to speed up the recovery from a winter cold. Rich and creamy macaroni and cheese that needs no accompaniment after a long day at work. We need good, no-nonsense food when the going gets tough. We need familiarity in a time of sadness.
We experienced some sadness this past week. A time in our lives when it is hard to have much hope and joy. But, you know what was the first thing we did to start the healing process? We started up the old Coleman and made a dinner of bbq chicken and mashed potatoes. We ate it in a dark kitchen, next to a single candle and we licked our fingers afterwards. Well, at least I did...Norwegians are not known to partake in such a barbaric practice of eating without fork and knife. I can’t say that I woke up the next day feeling rejuvenated and full of life, but I will say that a content belly can help lead the way to a slightly more content mind.
After the last chicken leg was eaten and I realized that my soul was only two bbq dinners repaired, I decided to listen to my heart to find my next remedy. Tonight is going to be a pot of down-home chili with buttermilk biscuits. It’s funny how much more appreciative of American food I am now that I live in a country without a well-respected culinary history. Granted, true Norwegian baked goods can put any common American bakery to shame, but when it comes to variety and diversity at my dinner table, I yearn for the convenience and familiarity of American grocery stores.
The first time I made these was when my mom and I both had bad colds at the end of winter and I needed an accompaniment to my homemade chicken noodle soup. They're surprisingly fast to make and have perhaps the most divine texture of any biscuit around, being both airy and firm, light but rich. That, and as the author of the recipe writes in her book, “consider the recipe as a springboard for flavor possibilities”. Plain biscuits would be fine alongside a bowl of chili or topped with jam for breakfast, but why not incorporate some sharp cheddar and mildly piquant jalapeños to make them all the more interesting. Beth Hensperger even suggests adding pecans, fresh berries, or whole-wheat flour to them. Me? I choose the cheese and peppers for the sake of comfort.
Buttermilk Biscuits Spiked with Jalapeño and Cheddar
Surmjølkboller med jalapeño og cheddarost
*Recipe from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible
(makes about 12 dinner-sized biscuits)
-The recipe can easily be replicated in a food processor or standing mixer
2 cups (280g) All-Purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons (85 g) cold, unsalted butter- cut into small pieces
1 large egg
3/4 cup (200 ml) cold buttermilk
1/2 cup jarred (120 ml) jalapeño peppers, diced and blotted with a towel
1/2 cup (50 g) shredded cheddar cheese (preferable a sharp variety)
1. Preheat the oven to 425F/215C. Grease or parchment-line a baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl,
combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients (the mixture will resemble coarse crumbs and leave no large chunks of butter). Add the egg and buttermilk, stirring just to moistened. The dough should be shaggy, but not sticky.
4. Stir in the jalapeños and cheddar. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surfaced and knead gently a couple of times.
5. Separate dough into a dozen even biscuits, work into compact rounds, place onto baking sheet, slightly spaced apart. (You could also roll dough into a rectangle and cut with a biscuit cutter, if desired).
6. Bake on the center rack of oven until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before serving.