“Are you learning anything new at the bakery?” my grandmother asked as I was elbow deep in biscuit dough. I tried to scrape the sticky mess off my fingers and think of a decent response, both efforts were futile.
“Oh, I don’t know. Not really. Maybe?” came my reply as I sprinkled flour onto the table and over my rolling pin. After forming the lump into a somewhat recognizable shape, I began to roll. My grandma watched and waited, nipping off a bit of dough with her fingers and tasting it, giving me her approval.
“You know, I always use a pizza or pie cutter to even out the edges when I’ve got a dough like that,” my grandma said after her sample. I took a knife and evened out the edges, giving myself a neat rectangle. Hmm, that’s better, I thought.
I spread not-so-softened goat cheese over the dough, taking care not to tear it and using my fingers when necessary; her eyes watched me the entire time. She mentioned something about whipping it with honey, for added sweetness. I contemplated and then disregarded it, staring at the lumpy goat cheese before me.
“So this is a jam?” she looked at a jar on the table. “No, it’s a butter. Fig butter? Hmm. That’s interesting. You know, I love figs. I used to eat those all the time when I was younger.” I nodded as I spread the fruit along uneven lumps of goat cheese.
With careful fingers I picked up one edge of the dough and began rolling it into a pinwheel, going slowly, going carefully, and then not going at all. The dough was stuck to the table.
“You know, I always rolled dough out on wax paper and then it would roll up real easy.” Hmm, why didn’t I think of that? I looked up at her, wiping messy hands on my apron. I struggled and strained and eventually got the dough rolled into a log. I grabbed a long knife to cut the rolls.
“You know, I always start from the middle and then work my way out, cutting each piece in half, and then in half again until all the pieces are the same size.” Hmm.
I worked the knife through the sticky dough, painstakingly wiping it clean and flouring it after each cut. Putting the rolls in the oven (“Oh, you topped them with melted butter? That’ll brown them up really nice.”), I turned and looked at the mess on the kitchen table, at the flour all over the floor, and at my grandma sitting there looking at me.
“Grandma, why do you ask me what I learned at the bakery? You just told me more about this recipe that I made up than anything I hear at the bakery.”
“Oh no, I don’t know that much,” she waved her hand. “I just try to help.”
And help she did. She helped me clean the kitchen of all flour remnants, the table and floor left spotless. She helped me fix this recipe, giving me ideas on improvement. She helped me finish the first batch of rolls, hot out of the oven, spread with a little butter and enjoyed alongside a cup of coffee. She complimented the height, texture, and flavor of these dense, but not dry, rolls. I simply sat there and beamed, reaching for a second roll.
Fig and Goat Cheese Breakfast Biscuits (makes 12 biscuits, inspired by Joy the Baker)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, divided
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
¼ cup honey
½ cup fig butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-inch enamel skillet (or 9x13 pan) with baking spray, set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Cut 6 tablespoons of the cold butter into small cubes and add to dry ingredients, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds, or until completely melted, set aside. Using a pastry blender or two forks, blend cubed butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembled coarse sand and there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Add to the flour and butter mixture. Bring together with a fork to create a shaggy dough. Turn dough out onto a floured cutting board or table and knead a few times until dough comes together.
Lay down a sheet of waxed paper and form dough into a thick rectangle on paper. Roll out with rolling pin until dough is ½ inch in thickness, trimming off any excess dough of necessary.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the goat cheese and honey until light and airy. Spread evenly over prepared dough, followed by fig butter. Grabbing the edges of the wax paper, slowly begin rolling one long end of the dough toward the other, to create a pinwheel of doughy goodness. Push dough along with waxed paper until the seam rests along the table.
Using a floured knife, cut the dough in 12 even pieces and place in prepared pan. Spread tops with melted butter and bake in preheated oven 15 – 18 minutes, or until rolls are a light golden brown.
Biscuits are best served warm the day they are made.
Ok, fine, I was reaching for a third roll.