I call the woods around the farm Where the Wild Things Are, because great-grandmother Florine’s mimosa trees and great-grandfather Horace’s blackberries and muscadines have all volunteered and gone a little crazy back in there, where they are free to flourish. As a kid, we had wild blackberries growing along the edges of the ditch when Galilee Road beside our farm was a dirt road. When they were ready for picking, my cousins and I would fill our buckets with more blackberries than Nana could possibly use because we knew if we did, she would say, “Now, y’all done picked enough for to make a doobie.” A doobie is kind of like a cobbler, but it’s more akin to sweet dumplings. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, or a scoop of one of the gelatos. Once you take a bite, you’ll taste summer for real.
4 pints blackberries
1/2 cup Sucanat or granulated sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1 cup cold water
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 batch Hot Buttermilk Biscuits dough (recipe below)
In a large pot, toss the blackberries with the sugar and arrowroot. Let the blackberries sit for 20 minutes, then add the water and butter and turn on the heat to medium. Once the blackberries come to a boil, turn the heat down to simmer.
While the blackberries simmer, use a tablespoon to drop biscuit dough onto the surface of the blackberries until you’ve used up all the dough. Cover the pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dough is cooked through.
Note: Sucanat is simply a less-processed derivative of natural sugarcane and involves no chemicals in the making the way white granulated sugar does. The gift: a healthier sweetener with a richer, more complex flavor profile, which means you need less of it in a recipe.
Hot Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter
I don’t really go out and buy buttermilk. My Nana taught me how to make it myself, and I still do it that way: 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice for every 1 cup of room-temperature heavy cream. But feel free to save some time and purchase a good quality buttermilk. When it comes to flour, I’ve got people who swear that White Lily self-rising flour is the only flour for biscuits in the South. I use King Arthur brand, but use whichever one you’re most loyal to.
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon (a pinch) of fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Honey Butter (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine 2 cups of the flour and the salt in a bowl. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir until the dough starts to take on a tacky consistency (where the dough barely sticks to your palm when you lay it on top of the dough).
Using half of the remaining flour, dust the countertop and turn the biscuit dough onto the floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a half-inch thickness, and fold over twice. Repeat twice, then roll the dough to a half-inch thick.
Dip a medium-sized biscuit cutter into the remaining flour, shake off the excess, then punch out biscuits from the dough (do not twist or turn the cutter). Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown. Serve warm with Honey Butter.
The basic biscuit dough is versatile and can be adapted for a sweeter, less tangy version that can be used as a dumpling in the Blackberry Doobie or rolled into the Strudel with Almost Rum Syrup. Simply substitute heavy cream for the buttermilk and increase the salt to ½ teaspoon.
1/4 cup locally sourced wildflower honey
1 cup unsalted butter
Pinch of kosher salt
Place the honey and butter in a small pan and warm it over low heat until the butter just melts. Remove the pan from the stove and allow the butter to cool for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.
Using an immersion blender, puree the honey mixture until the honey and butter combine and the color turns slightly lighter than the original honey color. Pour the butter into a pint-sized mason jar and seal. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Excerpted from Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright © 2021 CheFarmer Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon. Photography © 2021 by Siobhán Egan. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press, a Division of W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.
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