They first met as any two teens might, sneaking glances at each other across a crowded room. Theo was captivated from the very beginning.
“This girl had bright red hair; her movements were swift, her face sharp and mischievous and strange, and her eyes were an odd color, a golden honeybee brown.”
Theo’s love for Pippa weaves through the entirety of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch
, ebbing and flowing in its ill-fated way. It begins in that museum gallery, right before a shocking terrorist attack kills both of their guardians.
The tragedy binds the two, keeping them tied together even as they grow up and apart. Even when one of them leaves New York City, he or she eventually returns, and they always reconnect. They are part of an odd family along with Hobie, an elderly antiques dealer who becomes Theo’s guardian, and they create unique traditions to help them feel at home even after their lives are shaken.
The Goldfinch, recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, centers on characters who seem almost as fixated on food as they are on the novel’s namesake painting. Hobie always has something interesting in the kitchen. He makes cheesy eggs on toast, some kind of fig puree, jasmine caramels and more, absentmindedly forgetting to eat while taking care of others around him.
“Where’s Hobie?” I said…
“Oh—“ she rolled her eyes—“he insisted on going to the bakery…He likes to get me those blueberry biscuits that Mama and Welty used to buy me when I was little. Can’t believe they even make them any more—they don’t have them every day, he says.”
It’s easy to see why blueberry biscuits are one of Pippa’s favorites. The combination of juicy berries and tart buttermilk seems like an apt expression of care, folded sweetly into layers of a fluffy biscuit.From the moment you start massaging lemon zest into sugar, your kitchen will fill up with classic baking smells. Lemon zest, cinnamon, butter and sugar…everything comes together into a skillet of lightly kneaded biscuits. They come out of the oven perfectly golden brown, begging to be served with another pat of butter and a spoonful of clover honey to match Pippa’s eyes. Enjoy!
Blueberry Buttermilk Biscuits from The Goldfinch
Makes 10-12 biscuits
¼ cup white sugar
zest of half a lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup very cold buttermilk
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons melted butter
optional: 2 tablespoons sugar to sprinkle over uncooked biscuits
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Massage with your fingers until combined. Add next four ingredients and mix.
Add butter and use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut it into the flour until it is worked through. The mixture will have a similar consistency to cornmeal.
Add half of the buttermilk and stir in. Slowly add the rest of the buttermilk until the dough comes together and is not crumbling apart. You may not need the full cup.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Gently transfer dough to the surface and press out into a ¼-inch thick layer. Spread frozen blueberries over the dough and gently knead, folding in the berries as you go.
Lightly press the dough out to 1-inch thick. Use a water glass or biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits. Combine scraps to shape more biscuits. Place biscuits in a 13” skillet, just barely touching each other.
Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and add sugar if desired. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown on top and firm.
Note: I used Baker Bettie’s take on a blueberry buttermilk biscuits recipe but served the biscuits with local clover honey instead of adding the suggested glaze. For extra sweetness, sprinkle 2 tablespoons white sugar over the uncooked biscuits after brushing them with butter.
Have you read The Goldfinch (if so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Boris)? What was your favorite part?