A good biscuit, fresh from the oven and slathered with creamy butter, is simple, down home, and soul warming. You might even call it blissful. James Villas would. He has been obsessed with biscuits his entire life, ever since he was very small in North Carolina and watched his mother and Aunt Toots make buttermilk breakfast biscuits. Now that hes grown up, he has sampled hundreds of varieties from all over the country and baked countless batches himself, which makes him eminently qualified to offer the very best recipes in Biscuit Bliss.
Whether they are savory or sweet, biscuits are the quintessential American bread, with origins that go all the way back to the unleavened biscuits of Native Americans and then Colonial settlers. Biscuits came into their own in the 19th century with the introduction of baking soda, baking powder, and commercial yeast. Nowadays no bread is simpler, quicker, and more fun to make. The introduction features a section on the origins of biscuits and discussions of flours, fats, leavenings, equipment, and more, including a useful section on troubleshooting. Once you master the knack of turning them out, theyre easy as can be, and the options are varied and plentiful.
Plain raised biscuits, such as Cloud Biscuits and Buttermilk Biscuits, are everyday classics that have been popular for two centuries. Flavored biscuits include regional favorites such as Maine Clam Biscuits and Southern Sweet Potato Biscuits. Drop biscuits, which are heartier in texture and freeform, range from Cinnamon-Pecan Drop Biscuits to Parmesan-Herb Drop Biscuits. And biscuits can get dressed up for cocktails or tea with Blue Cheese and Walnut Biscuits and Smoked Salmon and Dill Biscuits. Theres even a chapter on what Villas calls the biscuits cousin, the scone. The book concludes with a chapter on heavenly ways to use biscuits and biscuit doughs in main courses and desserts, including Drop Biscuit-Crusted Chicken and Vegetables and Spiced Peach Shortcake. And scattered throughout are rich nuggets of biscuit lore and tips for better biscuits.