What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the buttery, flaky goodness that is the buttermilk biscuit? Like most people, you probably associate it with Southern cuisine, and you would be right to think so. It’s a quintessential armament in the Southern hospitality arsenal. But these biscuits used to be a far cry from how we know them today!
The word “biscuit” actually comes from the Latin word “biscoctus”. This means “twice-cooked”. Ancient Roman soldiers used to receive these types of biscuits in their rations. The two reasons being: they were a practical form of bread with very generous shelf-life. In the early 19th-century United States, biscuits emerged as a more prominent food type. An affordable addition to any meal as they did not require yeast. However, these biscuits were still very hard. It was determined we somehow needed more air to be worked in for slightly more lift when baked. Enter the technique of “beaten biscuits”. We add extra air when we knead and beat the dough with a blunt object.
The biscuit as we know it became possible thanks to 19th century technological advancements. This meant more effective flour mills and higher wheat production. Not to mention the creation of chemical leavening agents such as baking soda. This allows for fluffier biscuits. Flour is a key component in the modern biscuit as well. This is where the Southern states gain their advantage. Winter wheat grown in the South is usually much softer and less protein-packed. The result is a fluffier, top-notch biscuit.
Buttermilk biscuits are generally a savoury food item topped with a delicious calorie-dense sausage gravy. The typical checklist of ingredients found in buttermilk biscuits allows it to easily adapt to the dessert realm. Here we find many possibilities as to how one can give it a sweet kick if that’s what you’re craving. Fruit jam is a popular option, as well as honey, maybe even a chocolate spread! Treat yourself to whatever topping you want today on National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. Regardless of the garnish, you’re guaranteed something that’s flaky outside and fluffy inside. Don’t forget that enticing buttery aroma!