Week 8: Spoons Cafe

Good morning Baltimore! As many of us know, Maryland is notoriously known for its one-of-a-kind fresh crab cakes. However, to no one’s surprise, their buttermilk biscuit talents prove to be equally as impressive! Through careful research and consideration, we’ve decided to delve into South Baltimore’s Spoons Cafe, known for their uniquely simple biscuit creations as well as being featured in SouthBMore’s Best Of issue as Best Breakfast/Brunch.

Located in Federal Hill, Spoons is a genuine neighborhood café that serves breakfast and brunch all day. 

When we reached out to Spoons co-owner and self-proclaimed biscuit enthusiast Deborah Cogan, she was more than happy to share what gives their biscuits a little extra “umph.”

“Basically, southern biscuits share the same recipe - flour, salt, baking powder, milk and/or buttermilk and some kind of fat. Little tweaks in technique, a particular brand of ingredient, oven temperature, etc, provide the differences and nuances from baker to baker,” she explains. “Our biscuits are special because they’re made from scratch, by hand. No machines are used, except an oven of course.”

Cogan stresses the importance of good ol’ fashioned butter and buttermilk.

“For us, nothing beats butter. We use only unsalted 83% milk fat European style butter. European-style butter contains less water than average table butter which helps create biscuits that rise higher, crisp more evenly and have a flavorful, buttery taste.”

“We don’t skimp on the buttermilk. We use local, fresh buttermilk. Making your own from milk and lemon juice or vinegar just doesn’t cut it.”

Clearly this northern eastern café doesn’t disappoint when it comes to classic southern recipes. Luckily, for those of you who can’t make it to the area any time soon, Deborah has included a detailed, two-day process of the Spoons biscuit technique:

Day 1 - In a very large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. We cut in the cold butter by hand. Then we chill overnight so all of the ingredients are very cold.

Day 2 - Preheat an oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the bowl from the fridge and make a deep well in the center of the bowl. Pour the buttermilk in the well. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients with the wet. Once the ingredient have just started to come together, knead the dough 10-15 times.

At this point, let the dough rest for 15 minutes. This allows the flour to properly absorb the moisture.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and dust the dough with flour. Gently pat the dough out until it’s a 1-inch in thickness. Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter to push straight down through the dough to cut out circles, try not to twist the cutter. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, spacing 2-inches apart. Reform the scrap dough into 1-inch thickness, being sure to work with it as little as possible, before cutting out more circles.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash. Bake the biscuits until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Once you’ve properly made your own Spoons biscuit, don’t forget to add their specialty Smoky Bacon Tomato Jam to complete your ascent to biscuit heaven…

Smoky Bacon Tomato Jam

8 slices bacon, chopped into 1” pieces

1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped into small pieces

2 lbs ripe plum or roma tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. Sriracha

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1. Cook bacon in a medium Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onions, stirring, until translucent and softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain excess bacon grease from pan.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened to a jam-like consistency, about 1 hours.

3.Transfer to a blender and pulse to combine, leaving some chunks. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months.

Whether you like your biscuit plain or smothered in a jam that is sure to cause a mild addiction, Spoons has exactly what you want (and need). According to Deborah, “a great biscuit should be buttery, flaky, fluffy and tender but crispy in the right places. But, a truly amazing biscuit is a great biscuit made with heart and a love of the process.”

Spoons Cafe

24 E Cross St.

Baltimore, MD 21230

410. 539. 8395