Perhaps it Was Fate

January 11, 2009


I didn’t expect to check one of the New Orleans-inspired recipes off my To Make List this soon. For the biscuits, in particular, I thought I’d be searching for the perfect recipe for weeks. And, frankly, I was kind of looking forward to the buttery, flaky auditions. But they won’t be necessary: this recipe is a clear winner.


As I mentioned last week, one of the first things Kevin and I ate in New Orleans was a big, hot biscuit, served with a foil-wrapped pat of butter at Mother’s. And it was perfect—dunked in my gumbo or standing alone. None of the other biscuits we ate during the trip quite lived up and I was doubtful that I could find a recipe to stand up to the Mother’s memory in my own kitchen.


Oddly enough, I wasn’t even looking for this recipe, which comes from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food—a very excellent cookbook. I was re-visiting the cookbook because, while in New Orleans, I read Thomas McNamee’s biography of Waters and Chez Panisse, which had me captivated by both of them (the chef and the restaurant). It was one of those books you wish would never end, which is why I was trying to get my fix through the cookbook.


So it just seemed very meant to be when the biscuit recipe popped up as I flipped through the cookbook—two of my favorite parts of New Orleans together on the same page. I was sold.


Perhaps it was the element of fate, perhaps it’s just an excellent recipe or perhaps it’s the addition of heavy cream—but whatever the reason, these biscuits were incredible. And so, so easy. Just whisk a few pantry staples together—flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in some small pieces of cold butter and pour in a thick stream of heavy cream until the dough just barely holds together. Pat that out into a thick circle and roll it to just shy of an inch thickness. Brandish your (brand new!) biscuit cutter to stamp out rounds, which you next brush with cream. After only 20 minutes in the oven, these little disks will transform into puffed, flaky, golden, completely irresistible biscuits.  Simple food, indeed.


Cream Biscuits
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters via

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Stir together in a large bowl:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

6 tbls cold butter cut into small pieces

Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry blender until they are the size of small peas.

¾ cups heavy cream

Remove 1 tablespoon and set aside. Lightly stir in the remainder of the cream with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Without overworking it, lightly knead the dough a couple of times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about ¾ inch thick. Cut into eight 1 ½ inch circles or squares. Reroll the scraps if necessary.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly brush the tops with the reserved tablespoon of cream. Bake for 17 minutes or until cooked through and golden.


14 Responses to “Perhaps it Was Fate”

  1. Those biscuits look super flaky and deliciously buttery. I love food that comes with memories of your favorite places.

  2. eggsonsunday Says:

    So, so flaky! They look delicious. The Art of Simple Food is one of my favorites, too – I’ve had McNamee’s biography of Waters on my amazon wishlist; looking forward to reading it one of these days! Glad you could recreate one of your nicest memories from the trip. 🙂 -Amy

  3. I love a classic biscuit but I can’t say that I have ever had a fabulous one in NOLA. This looks like a wonderful recipe. And you just gave me another book to put on my CPL Holdlist!

  4. qooza Says:

    These look so delicious! I love your photography as well. I’m going to make these the first chance I get!

  5. Mari Says:

    Sometimes a girl just needs a biscuit, and for me that’s about once a month. My favorite recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, for which I use lard instead of shortening (naughty, I know), because it makes them so flaky and good!

  6. sue bette Says:

    I’ve been craving biscuits for a while now and your pictures are not helping!!
    I also read the Chez Panisse story on a trip last year – what a great book. Even with its ups and downs I was encouraged that A. Waters was always willing to take risks.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe – I am looking forward to giving these a try!

  7. Oh my. My husband and I always stop by Mother’s on our way to the airport to get a black ham biscuit to share on the plane. What a great NOLA recipe to start with! I’ve wanted to read the Alice Waters biography…you’ve just convinced me to order it immediately.

  8. pricklypearbloom Says:

    I’ve been craving biscuits lately.

  9. Alejandra Says:

    I’ve been wanting to make really good biscuits for a while now but I never seem to have the right ingredients on hand. I think i might just have to plan ahead because these look lovely!

  10. These do look flaky delicious. I adore biscuits!

  11. sweetandnatural: Me too. Tastes better, that way, I think.

    Amy: Oh, yes, you should read it. Very inspiring.

    Whitney: You can save the book for after the bar. I read so much during that time.

    qooza: Thanks!

    Mari: You know, I wouldn’t even know where to buy lard!

    sue bette: Give in to the craving!

    Andrea: Wow, that beats airport/plane food by a mile. Yum.

    pricklypearbloom: Go for it!

    Alejandra: I typically have most of these things on hand—except for maybe the cream (at least that much of it).

    Gretchen Noelle: Me too!

  12. maggie Says:

    Oooh. I have this cookbook and haven’t made anything from it. I’ve never made biscuits and really want to learn how!

  13. These look delicious–I was just thinking how biscuits are the single most tempting thing to pull me away from my New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe if I only ate one…yeah right. : )

  14. maggie: Get cracking on the cookbook! You won’t be disappointed. And these biscuits are very straightforward, especially with Alice’s reassuring directions.

    TFF: Ha! They are addictive.

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