Apr 122012

Biscuits processed 1 of 2 600x423 Spring Break(fast)

It’s spring break week and every day seems like a Sunday. Most of my friends have packed their bags and left sunny California for even warmer, more tropical climates, and I cannot wait to hear their stories of culinary escapades and see their sun-kissed faces once they return to reality.

The girls have been going to the pool every day for a few hours and we are taking walks down to the beach, breathing in the ocean air with full lungs, happy to call this amazing town our home. I let them be lazy, grateful for the moments when they envelope me in their elongated teen limbs and plant soft kisses in my hair and on my cheek. We hug a lot these days and stay in a clinch for minutes, an intertwined statue of femininity at its most fragile state, and at the same time the epitome of strength.

I went to the drugstore on the last day of school and brought home a bag of small, luxurious, nice-smelling, and utterly-meant-to-spoil items, promising them a day of pampering, the three of us the only patrons of the exclusive spa. They ogled pretty bottles and jars and giggled with anticipation, only to leave and continue playing with their Barbies, excited by the interruption, but eager to get back to their stories.

They are starting to like boys just a little bit, but their affection is aimed exclusively at out-of-reach young actors like Asa Butterfield and the adorable kid who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. Their male schoolmates are still the specimens of an icky, unknown, and hostile species, but I observe the sudden attention they pay to putting together outfits they would wear to school  and at the same time exhale in relief when they innocently pull the plastic box filled with Barbies from underneath their bed.

I indulge them in the kitchen and ask every morning if they crave something special. They stretch their arms and yawn, look at one another, the sleep slowly fading from their semi-closed eyes. This lazy week allows me to to spend time with breakfast and I love the feel of not rushing and expanding my options to include anything they might desire.

Invariably, on one of the mornings, they decided in unison that they wanted biscuits. Biscuits used to intimidate me.  I viewed them as spoiled Southern Belles, finicky and over-sensitive, fragile, pouty, and easily offended. I dreaded the thought that they might turn on me, scorn me for not belonging, and refuse to play nice. But I was determined to win them over and prove that a Southern Slav is as skillful as any Southerner below the Mason-Dixon line to tackle their snobbish peculiarities. I wanted to be accepted into their inner circle–big hats, mint juleps, and fainting spells with the necessary vapors included.

Coming out of the oven they were gorgeous, golden around the edges and pale in the middle, filling the kitchen with their comforting aroma. They perched perkily on the plate, and when the girls reached for them and opened them up, they were flaky, tender, and light, with a crumbly crust. They thirstily accepted the first yellow pad of butter, perfect in their seeming simplicity. I felt vindicated and for just a second I thought I heard the reverberating echo of horses’ hooves disappearing into the distance, as the breeze brought a touch of Southern humid heat into our California home.

Biscuits processed 2 of 2 600x420 Spring Break(fast)

There are certain things I learned on my quest to attain the perfect, flaky, light biscuits:

1. The butter has to be really cold. I don’t own a food processor and I mix my dough by hand. That’s why I borrowed Mother’s grating method for keeping the butter chilled. The more time the flour, the dough, and the biscuits spend in the fridge, the better.

2. Do not overwork your dough, or the biscuits will be tough. I cut my biscuits in squares to avoid the remnants form the circles, as they always make for tougher biscuits, having been rolled several times.

3. Once you shaped and placed them on cookie sheet, you can cover them with a plastic wrap and freeze them. To bake them, let them sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

4. The biscuits should be eaten immediately.

5. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own in minutes. Measure ¾ cup regular milk and squeeze 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. The acid will slightly curdle the milk and turn it into buttermilk! You can use it immediately.



  • 2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 8 Tbsp very cold butter
  • ¾ cups cold buttermilk

* I was not able to find White Lilly flour that everyone recommends for quick, flaky breads, as it has much less gluten then the all-purpose flour. Next time I will have to experiment and substitute some of the all-purpose flour with cake flour, just for comparison.


Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Using the side with the biggest holes on your grater grate the butter as quickly as you can. Mix with a fork and add buttermilk. Mix until combined. Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured kitchen counter and knead just a few times. (The dough will be slightly wet). Wrap in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to allow butter to cool off.

Preheat the oven to 475F.

Turn the dough out on the lightly floured counter and flatten into a rectangle with a rolling pin without pushing too hard and overworking the dough. It should be about ½ inch thick. Using a sharp knife (or even better a pizza cutter) cut into 2 inch squares. Sprinkle with a little flour and place on a cookie sheet. (If the time allows, put the cookie sheet in the freezer for several minutes to ensure that the butter stays chilled.) Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.

Last year: Rosemary Focaccia

14 Responses to “Spring Break(fast)”

  1. Your childen are so incredibly lucky to have you as their mother; I hope they thank you for it after each and every single meal. :)

    Brilliant tip about cutting the dough into squares.

    I recently had some really, really good biscuits and gravy, and have been meaning to make my own breakfast biscuits ever since. I don’t have White Lilly flour either, but I do have cake flour, so perhaps I’ll try your recipe using that, and I’ll let you know how it worked for me.

    I do not doubt that I can eat the whole batch immediately. :)


    • Kim, they don’t thank me, of course! Kids take everything for granted, but they remember, just like I did:) As for the squares, I know it’s not the most authentic way, but who cares? I ate two, the girls ate the rest, at one sitting!

  2. I can smell the aroma of those biscuits right now. Simply divine.
    Some day, your kids are going to wake up with the thought… I have the most awesome mom on the planet. :) I hope you are there to share that amazing moment.

  3. When I lived in Knoxville there was a White Lily factory. My flour was always really fresh. No White Lily to be had here.

    I make my biscuits and scones square too and for the same reason. Less handling of the dough and no waste.

    I make my own sausage because there’s no American sausage here and I make them in squares to fit the square biscuits. I can’t get the eggs to conform so they go in an egg square (ring but square)

    All neat and tidy :)

    • I would love to make my own sausage (but I would opt for the European ones, as they are hard to find here:) One of these days I’ll own a KitchenAid! I can only imagine those perfect breakfast sandwiches – my sister would do something like that (she cuts lunch meat and cheese to conform to the shape of the bread, too)

  4. Beautiful post :) I have access to White Lily flour if you ever need some!

  5. Sounds like a lovely spring break thus far! Your biscuits look just perfect. A little butter a little jam…yum.

  6. What a nice spring break. I miss the breaks like that.
    Thanks for the square tip, I do rounds and I always struggle with the leftovers, trying to shape them into a round and only to fall apart quickly.

    Enjoy while they still want to be right beside you in their breaks :)

    • Ilke, I was doing round biscuits forever just because that was the norm, but this makes more sense and it is easier – no waste, too:)

  7. A great breakfast treat! Those biscuits look perfect and so tempting. Delicious with a fried eggs.

    I hope you had a lovely Easter.



    • Thanks, Rosa! Once I mastered the biscuits, I make them fairly often (the girls love sausages and gravy with them, but that’s a heavy breakfast, not for every day:)

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