“Fat, skinny, crumbly, tender, moist, tall, hard, stuffed, flavored, short, tart, blousy, tiny, sweet, cheesy, or creamy—they all have their own origins and reasons for being…” write Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart of the baked goods they spotlight in Southern Biscuits, released last month from Gibbs Smith.
This local duo should know. The cookbook authors (Dupree has written 11, including two James Beard Award-winners, while Graubart published The One-Armed Cook in 2005) spent years combing community cookbooks and months testing recipes. “We really weren’t going to do an entire biscuit book,” says Dupree, “but we tried so many and got so hooked on their diversity that we kept going.”
The tome shares more than 50 takes on the iconic Southern shortbread. Color photographs by Rick McKee guide readers through preparation and baking methods before illustrating recipes that range from a simple “dorm room” version to a creative Coca-Cola variety. In addition, there are “Biscuit Relatives” (chicken and dumplings), desserts (bananas foster biscuit casserole), and accompaniments (butters and gravies).
The coverage is comprehensive, and Dupree and Graubart are sure to point out that there’s more to the art than flours, fats, and proper kneading. “To make the finest true-Southern biscuits requires…a touch of grace—a blessing some people share—which can be acquired with patience and care,” they write in the introduction. We can’t wait to start practicing.