Baking for Bookworms: Cheese Biscuits from Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

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I didn’t know very much about Zelda Fitzgerald before reading this book (and obviously this was fiction, though well-researched, so there’s still a lot I don’t know about her), but I felt afterwards that I understood her more, and I understood how difficult life had been for her. I’m sorry to say I’d never really given her much thought before, but now I’m really interested to read some of her work. She was certainly an artist in her own right.

The food mentioned in the book is definitely overshadowed by the booze (both in variety and quantity), but I really wanted to share a food and not a cocktail recipe this week, so I settled on the food that’s mentioned on the first page: cheese biscuits. Interestingly, Zelda isn’t really into cheese biscuits, she’s more partial to plain biscuits she can spread her favorite peach preserves on. Scott however loved cheese biscuits. I think this says something about how Scott was interested in zest and Zelda in a kind of sweetness she was always looking for but never found. That’s probably a lot to read into biscuits.

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This mention of the biscuits happens very early in the book, before Scott ever comes into Zelda’s life:

” ‘Hey, Katy,’ I said, coming into the kitchen. ‘Bess and Clara are out there, did you hear ’em?’ On the wide wooden table was a platter covered by a dish towel. ‘Plain?’ I asked hopefully, reaching beneath the towel for a biscuit.

‘No, cheese–now, don’t make that face,’ she said, opening the door to wave to her friends. ‘Nothin’ today!’ she shouted. Turning to me, she said, ‘You can’t have peach preserves every day of your life.'”                                                                                                                             9

I think these biscuits came out really well. They’re drop biscuits because I’m a drop biscuit kind of gal. Rolling and cutting and things–that’s just too much work for everyday biscuits. I also kind of like the rustic look of drop biscuits. These are adapted from Martha Stewart’s.

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Cheese Biscuits

  • 2 (up to 1/2 cup more) cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (I used medium, but you could use sharp or white)
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or a little over a tablespoon of vinegar mixed with enough milk to hit the 1 1/3 cup mark)
  • 3 tablespoons chives (I used freeze dried)

Preheat oven to 425.

Line baking sheets with parchment or a nonstick silicone mat and set aside.

Combine all dry ingredients in bowl and whisk together. Work the cold butter into the mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it’s all incorporated. Stir in cheddar, buttermilk, and chives until the dough comes together. If the dough looks too wet, you can add a little more flour.

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Use two spoons to drop biscuits (about 1/4 cup of the mixture per biscuit) onto trays and bake about 12 minutes until puffed and golden brown. If you put two sheets in the oven at once, you can rotate them halfway through baking.

These biscuits were so good. I mean what can be better than cheese and bread together? Pretty much nothing. These would go perfectly with soup or with almost anything. You can invent lots of excuses.

 

Are you a drop biscuit lover or a rolled biscuit devotee? Let me know in the comments.

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