Carrie Morey could easily be called the biscuit queen of Charleston. It’s a mantle she inherited from her mother, a caterer named Callie White who was known for her country ham biscuits. (For the uninitiated, a country ham biscuit is exactly what it sounds like—a biscuit split in two, with some salty, smoky country ham in the middle, and a condiment or secret ingredient binding everything together. In Callie’s case, the biscuit is cheese and chive flavored, the ham is chopped, and the condiment is Dijon mustard butter.)
Morey and her mom launched Callie’s Charleston Biscuits in 2005 and the company has since grown into a successful purveyor of biscuits, baking mixes, pimento cheese, and other Southern staples. Last year, they opened Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits on Charleston’s King Street, a 629-square-foot shop where you can order a hot biscuit with homemade jam, a bowl of grits, or a French press coffee.
Morey is one of the local culinary talents featured as part of the 10th annual Charleston Wine + Food festival, which kicks off Wednesday. It’s a five-day celebration of the people, restaurants, bars, and regional treats that give the southern city so much of its flavor. Morey will be teaching a biscuit-making class, “Wake + Bake,” on Saturday morning as part of the festival, but it’s already sold out. Luckily, she shared a few tips in the video above, including her “dough snake” trick for high-rising biscuits. “Biscuits like to be touched,” explained Morey. The second tip involves a key ingredient that you don’t often find in traditional biscuits—cream cheese. Some bakers swear it makes for a lighter, fluffier biscuit.
Her No. 1 tip? Mix everything by hand, not by machine. “Get in there and get messy,” she urged.
We’ve got the family recipe, so if you can’t make it to Charleston Wine + Food, you can still make Callie’s biscuits.
Callie’s Classic Buttermilk Biscuits
Yields approximately 10 (2-inch) biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily preferred), plus more for dusting
5 tablespoons butter: 4 tablespoons cut in small cubes, at room temperature, and 1 tablespoon melted
1⁄4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup whole buttermilk (may substitute low-fat buttermilk)
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position.
Measure the flour into a large bowl. Incorporate the cubed butter, then the cream cheese into the flour, using your fingers to “cut in” the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles cottage cheese. It will be chunky with some loose flour.
Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and, using your hands or a small rubber spatula, mix the flour into the buttermilk. The dough will be wet and messy.
Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the bowl, creating a separation between the dough and the bowl. Sprinkle a bit more flour in this crease.
Flour a work surface or flexible baking mat very well. With force, dump the dough from the bowl onto the surface. Flour the topof the dough and the rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1⁄2-inch thickness into an oval shape. (No kneading is necessary—the less you mess with the dough, the better.)
Flour a 2-inch round metal biscuit cutter or biscuit glass. Start from the edge of the rolled-out dough and cut straight through the dough with the cutter, trying to maximize the number of biscuits cut from this first roll out. Roll out the excess dough after the biscuits are cut and cut more biscuits. As long as the dough stays wet inside, you can use as much flour on the outside as you need to handle the dough. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet with the sides lined with parchment paper, or in a cast-iron skillet, or a baking pan with the biscuit sides touching. (It does not matter what size pan or skillet you use as long as the pan has a lip or sides and the biscuits are touching. If you are using a cast-iron skillet, no parchment paper is necessary.) Brush the tops with the melted butter.
Place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 450°F. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, until light brown on top (or as dark as you prefer), rotating the pan once while baking.
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