Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Rise of the Southern Biscuit

I watched The Rise of the Southern Biscuit this afternoon and recommend the 30-minute documentary to my viewers.

After all, who doesn't enjoy a light, flaky biscuit? Smothered in creamy sausage gravy or decorated with homemade raspberry jam, many give the biscuit an central place in their diet.

One thing struck me on my first viewing of the DVD on the Documentary Channel (197 on Dish Network). Even though each biscuit maker uses different ingredients, the result is most always the same.

Some work shortening (or "Crisco" after the predominant brand) into sifted self-rising flour. Others insist on natural fats like butter or lard.

Biscuit bakers even differ on the liquid ingredient. Milk, buttermilk and cream all have their place. Like the choice of fat, the source of moisture seems to have little bearing on the final product.

One thing you will notice when you watch The Rise of the Southern Biscuit. It takes lots of love -- and a gentle touch -- to create a great biscuit. The rest is left to the baker.

Maryann Byrd, Emmy award-winning filmmaker and creator of the The Rise of the Southern Biscuit, has this to say about the Southern biscuit on her blog:

"Whenever I speak to a group about Southern biscuits, I always tell them, 'Biscuit dough is a blank canvas.' Add your favorite flavors and ingredients to your dough and make your own creation.

"Most of us are used to adding toppings; like honey, jams, and gravies to give a biscuit that great taste. And it does work. But, I say put some fun stuff in the dough! It is even better."

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