I have spent a lifetime fiddling with other people's recipes, attempting to improve them, perhaps trying to get by because I didn't have buttermilk or eggs or the right kind of sugar - there are as many reasons as there were abject failures. OK, maybe not quite as many.....but the first I recall was my mom's Creamy French Icing. I was just a teenager, and of course knew everything - she put me to work making the icing for someone's birthday cake, then left me alone while she went off to most likely wrap a present in whatever paper-like material she could find because we never seemed to have the real stuff. I thought it was normal to get a present clad in butcher paper, or a grocery bag that had been deconstructed, then artfully taped to try and hide the creases and the "Piggly Wiggly" logo on one side. But I digress....
As I gathered ingredients, my budding gourmet brain took over when I saw the "Dream Whip" box. Oooooh....who doesn't love whipped cream, and wouldn't it be delicious if I could make her icing even more light and fluffy by adding just a skosh? Sure....SOUNDED like a good idea, that is until I began to incorporate the lovely vanilla-scented plaster of paris powder from the envelope into the cream french....it began to take on an odd look and color and promptly lost it's creaminess AND fluff....apparently it was only meant to mix with milk, and was laughing at me through it's iridescent and oddly vomitous texture. I turned the mixer up on high, hoping against hope that it just needed to be beaten FASTER to become delightful, but my hope was dashed when Mom came back, looked in the bowl and said accusingly "What did you DO?". I promptly replied "Nothing!", with the most saintly look I could muster while fervently praying she would not find the Dream Whip packet underneath the other garbage I tried to hide it under and give me 40 lashes with an offset spreader. Our eyes locked, she knew I was lying, I was attempting not to pee my pants, and still breathe.....after a couple seconds, she must have realized that an inquisition and subsequent punishment would mean she wouldn't have time to make a bow for her package out of some scraps of yarn, a couple twist-ties and the plastic ring thingie that holds a 6 pack together, and she said we would have to re-make it. PHEW.
And sometimes, you just can't fiddle with perfection - there are a few that I can't find fault with, that always satisfy my need for perfection and everyone else's need to stuff their face with a truly inspirational masterpiece. Yah, like the Mona Lisa of recipes....lah de freakin dah. The following is just such an offering - I read it in the paper, and thought it sounded good...and it was from a bakery in a place called Sister's that I had never been to....exotic. It's kind of like a cross between a biscuit and a pastry - it's not very sweet even with the icing, but is a nice homey comfort breakfast served warm with a little butter to go with. Not that I would do such a thing...OK, I had to try a little bite with butter tonight, are you happy now?
From the Sisters Bakery in Central Oregon - believe it or not, I drove through the town on my first trip to Bend a couple years ago and DID NOT STOP...it was full of tourists and I wanted to see what Bend was all about! OK, next time I will stop and see what else this wondrous place has to offer....if these are any indicator, Handsome Stranger will need to bring a really big shoe horn to get me back into the car.
2 C. bread flour
2 C. cake flour (OK, I confess....I've used all regular flour and they were fine)
1/2 C. sugar, plus extra for berries
1/8 tsp. salt
2 T. baking powder
4 T. butter, cold
1/4 C. water
1 C. buttermilk
3 C. fresh or frozen marion or blackberries
1 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. milk
Preheat oven to 350, spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder, then cut in butter until crumbly. In a smaller bowl mix eggs, water and buttermilk with a fork until combined, pour into flour mixture and stir with fork just until combined. Turn out on lightly floured board, separate into two equal parts, and roll each part out into approx. a 6x8 rectangle, using flour as needed (the dough will be a little sticky if you don't use enough). Cut each rectangle into 9 to 11 rounds (about 2.5"), re rolling any scraps to get enough. Put half in bottom of the pan, evenly spaced, then put about 1/3 C. berries on each biscuit. Now a decision....if you want it a little sweeter, you can put 1/2 to 1 tsp. additional sugar on top of each berry-covered biscuit....it's up to you. Then put the rest of the biscuits on top of the berries. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, then mix powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth and spoon over warm biscuits.
One note I thought I should mention - the second time I made this I thought "Hmm....I think I'll make these on a cookie sheet so they don't all grow together and they'll get more browned crispy edges." HA. It's a soft dough, and when you do that, they still all grow together, they just end up a lot flatter with burned berry filling in the few holes in between. The point of cramming them in a smaller pan is that they bake UP, not out....live and learn. And Handsome Stranger loves burnt stuff, and joyfully scraped all of it off the pan and ate it with a smug look on his face. Love a man who eats your mistakes and still swears you're a better cook that his momma.....
ps, if you REALLY want to know, I ended up with 11 of these beauties, and they are 9 points plus each....WITHOUT the butter. They're not really all THAT good.....