Biscuits are such a simple food. Small, quick-rising, buttery and tender, they don’t take the time or energy that a yeast bread does – or do they? Although biscuits seem simple, anyone who has tried their hand at making them will tell you that there is more to a little biscuit than meets the eye. James Villas’ Biscuit Bliss is all about crafting the perfect biscuit, and enhancing the already perfect plain biscuit into many equally tasty variations.
The cookbook covers the basic biscuit types – raised biscuits (plain/cut) and drop biscuits – and many sweet (e.g. scones) and savory variations of those basic recipes. But even before getting into the recipes, there is an introduction about what a biscuit is. To make a biscuit, you need three ingredients: flour, leavenings and fats. With such a simple base, it’s important to use good quality ingredients. Villas says that you can use all purpose flour, but for the best results be recommends using a soft wheat flour (more often sold in the South) that has a lower protein content, such as White Lily. A mixture of half cake flour and half all purpose is a pretty good substitute.
The recipes stick with the same or similar formulas throughout, so this book really is a good reference for biscuit making, as you’ll get more and more confident – and hopefully have ever-better results – as you cook with it. Hopefully, you’ll be baking biscuits like a skilled Southern grandmother by the time you finish the book. It has some lovely photos, but biscuits aren’t really a type of food that needs a lot of illustration, unlike some other baked goods, so the book doesn’t loose anything by not illustrating every recipe. There is also a chapter on cooking with biscuits, making dishes like Chicken Pot Pie and Fruit Cobblers to introduce a few extra ideas about how versatile biscuit dough can be.