The last days of summer parade like soldiers before me. Stoic, orderly. I cannot see the end, but I sense it's nearing. Hard footsteps. A military cadence led by a dawn mockingbird. It leaves me lazy, languid. It leaves me watching sunsets in traffic, unbuttoning my shirt to let the air dry my chest. I keep promising to go to the park when I have the time, the energy. The economy of both ran out sometime in mid-July.
But Sundays come like clockwork and I never seem to be done with the laundry in time. I wait until it all piles up around me--bills, socks, excuses, before I sit in the turnstile of chores and think "I need a break." And the small moments of breakfast and coffee, of laying with my dogs before the day really begins, of greeting Sunday with an old familiarity, they make the chores bearable. They give me something to look forward to. They make the growing up part okay, even when summer is finite and we all know Persephone will inevitably eat the pomegranate seeds again and again, ad infinitum. Death and taxes might be the constants of a bookended life, but an unfulfilled summer seems just as scary, when you realize you have 9 months to make up for lost time next year.
But today, I relax. I sit, I make coffee. I thought about going to get a newspaper and then I realized I don't read the newspaper. I drink more coffee. I made these biscuits. Biscuits have always been a synesthetic anchor to my childhood, somewhere in the limns of tactile crumbs and the warm, buttered smell. When she was working, she'd make hers from a tube that popped, dough overflowing out of the broken cardboard seal. When she took summers off, when it was Sunday, when the laundry would pile up from three kids and a lazy husband, she'd find an excuse to make her biscuits homemade. (In reality, she was looking for any excuse she could get to distract herself from all the responsibilities that pile up around you.)
She'd grease the pan with bacon fat and cut the butter in herself. Sometimes she'd use shortening, sometimes she'd make gravy. One time she added a little orange juice from concentrate and they burned around the edges. These variations came and went, but there were constants: a white coffeepot that stayed on until the afternoon when it began to burn, homemade jam she had canned from the summer before, and a bag of King Arthur Flour on the kitchen counter, scrunched close and flour dusting her nightgown.
When King Arthur Flour reached out to me to be a part of their Better Biscuit campaign by using their Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, I thought of this fading summer and how vivid those small luxuries of Sunday breakfasts were. How I, like my mother, bake to escape the lives we find ourselves in. How the baker's escapism is only one facet of our personality, and the one we both look forward to the most. And how, consistently, King Arthur Flour has been on my countertop for moments like this: when you just want to relax on a Sunday morning and not think about anything else but breakfast.
And I want to share those memories with you, so you can create them with your own family. So you can make traditions through some baked goods, so you can have King Arthur dusting your countertops. In collaboration and with KAF sponsoring this post, I am giving away a $25 gift card to use at their online shop. To enter: Leave a comment below on on my instagram, telling me your own favorite biscuit memory with your loved ones. A winner will be picked on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm PST and will be announced after that. (Open to US residents only). And if you want to participate in the Better Biscuit campaign, use the hashtag #betterbiscuits and tag @kingarthurflour on instagram!
A Better Grilled Stone Fruit Shortcake with Wine Meringue
An ode to the last matchsticks of summer. Using King Arthur Flour's self-rising flour and adapting an old scone recipe, I designed a perfectly flaky, flavorful biscuit that works great as a shortcake base. Add some grilled peaches or plums and a wine reduction for an Italian meringue, and you have an simple and satisfying breakfast, brunch, or dessert for those long summer days. Makes 6 to 8 biscuits.
Ingredients for the biscuits:
- 2 1/2 cup KAF self-rising flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon shortening, very cold
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk (if using whole milk, add 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar)
- 1/3 cup jam (preferably peach), warmed in saucepan or microwave until viscous)
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon of turbinado sugar (optional)
Directions for the biscuits:
- Preheat oven to 450*F
- In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. Pulse three times to combine
- Add both fats and pulse 4 to 6 times, or until butter and shortening mix into dry ingredients and are pea-sized
- In a measuring cup, whisk buttermilk and melted jam together to combine and, with the food processor running, slowly pour wet ingredients through feeding tube until dough begins to form
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a round that is about one inch thick and 6 inches around
- Cut biscuits out and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with cream and sprinkle with turninado sugar
- Bake for 14 minutes at 450*F. (Continue with rest of recipe during this time.)
- Allow to cool before serving
Ingredients for the grilled stone fruit:
- 3-4 peaches, plums, or other stone fruit, halved and pitted
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- Black pepper
Directions for the grilled stone fruit:
- Get your grill very hot (high heat) before beginning this recipe to ensure a fierce sear and nice grill lines
- Brush oil onto prepared fruit and place, flesh-side down onto the grill
- Grill for 8-12 minutes, checking sporadically, until flesh is caramelized and easy to pull off grill
- Sprinkle with a small amount of black pepper for taste (optional)
Ingredients for the wine meringue:
- 1 cup wine, red or white (see note below)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- pinch of cream of tartar (optional, but suggested)
Directions for the wine meringue:
- In a saucepan, heat wine and sugar on medium-high heat and allow to boil. Hardly stirring, allow mixture to come to a boil and reduce to a syrup at around 240*F on a candy thermometer
- While this is reducing, whip egg whites (with your tartar, if using) in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form
- When wine syrup is ready and with mixer on medium, very carefully pour a thin stream of the syrup into the meringue, increasing the speed gradually until all syrup is incorporated
- Continue whipping on high until you have a stiff peak form that holds its shape
To Assemble: Cut biscuit in half and top with meringue, add grilled fruit and enjoy any time of day.
Note: I used white wine for this recipe myself, but I am confident red would yield the same results. I was originally just using peaches for this recipe, so it was intuitive to use white; but red for plums. Further, i just don't like red and never have it in the house, haha