Southern Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy
My husband's amazing take on a childhood favorite of mine.
Last weekend we decided to make an angel food cake, as I mentioned in my post about lemon curd. It was a cake I knew I loved, but I hadn’t made it in forever. It turned out beautifully in my new angel food cake pan that Dave gave me for Christmas – pillowy soft. Delicate in texture and flavor. Just the right amount of sweet (even though I realized I doubled the vanilla. Whoops!). It was one of those cakes where you remember why they call it “angel food.”
And then, a few days and a few pieces of cake later, I got sick. Not from the cake, but from something else I still haven’t identified. It was something weird in my intestines, and though I wasn’t puking, I sure didn’t feel good. After a full day spent at home in bed, I went to work Wednesday and could barely stand up straight when I walked, because my abs felt like I had really overdone the crunches that week (I hadn’t). I couldn’t walk more than 30 or 40 feet without having to take a rest. My doctor, who also happens to be my dear father-in-law, said that I needed to eat only easily digestible things for a few days – rice, bread, jello, Gatorade- something to get my system back on track and fully hydrated.
I followed his directions, thought it wasn’t easy. One of my very best friends was in town and we had lunch together – well, she had lunch from one of my favorite spots and I had some white rice that I had brought with a big cup of Gatorade. And it was fine, but I couldn’t help but be a little sad that my angel food cake sat on the kitchen table, alone and unfinished (Dave was in New York).
But you know what happens when you do what the doctor says (especially when he is the best doctor in the world)? You get better – and quickly.
By the time my friend was available again a few days later and Dave was back from New York, my innards were once again functioning. I was able to have a nice meal out at one of my favorite places in Northeast Portland, Miho Izakaya. And even more importantly, I was able to share the last of the cake with my husband and one of my closest friends.
I am not sure if it was the bad tummy diet or the company, but one or both of those made it just about the best darn cake I have ever had. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This recipe is adapted slightly from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1991 edition.
Put your oven rack on the lowest position and preheat your oven to 350. Mix the powdered sugar and flour in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer until they are foamy. Add the granulated sugar just a little at a time as you continue mixing. Add the vanilla and salt after the sugar, and then beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Sprinkle the flour and sugar mixture about 1/4 cup at a time on the top of the egg white mixture, and fold in very gently with a spatula. Try to do this in as few strokes as possible.
Spoon the batter into an ungreased cake pan and cut around the edges of the cake and across the middle a few times to break up any air pockets. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and the cracks in the cake do not feel wet. Remove from the oven and immediately turn the cake upside down – there should be prongs on the side of the pan that will allow it to sit upside down without touching the counter top. If not, you can use a funnel or a bottle stuck into the middle of the pan to raise the cake higher.
Allow the cake to cool completely – this will take a few hours. Use a knife to go around the inner and outer edges when you remove the cake.
You can glaze the cake or serve it with lemon curd, which is delicious. But it is also just fantastic on its own.