If you’ve ever tasted a really good buttermilk cookie, you can attest that it’s nearly impossible to stop after just one. The layers of flavor marry savory, salty, and a touch of spiciness in perfect harmony that could be described as the pinnacle of good old-fashioned Southern cooking.
Fast food chain Bojangles has been bringing authentic Southern staples – including buttermilk biscuit – to the masses since 1977. With over 700 restaurants primarily in the Southeast region, it prides itself on its completely mic-free restaurants. -waves – an absolute feat in the modern world. fast food hours. Although it serves delicious fried chicken with all the toppings, it’s the cookies that continue to grab the attention.
At a time when many restaurants are looking to cut corners, this signature item is made using Bojangles’ proven, 49-step recipe, made from scratch. The result? A buttery cookie with a crispy golden exterior and a soft interior. Served as is or filled with breakfast favorites like eggs and crispy bacon, it’s a labor of love for this bite of fast food perfection.
Buttermilk cookies date back to the simpler times of the 19th century, when many people were employed to work on farms. Out of sheer necessity, they found innovative ways to use the ingredients they had left to fend for themselves.
“Cookies were one of those inexpensive foods,” says Bojangles vice president of menu and culinary innovation, Marshall Scarborough. “They had a lot of leftover lard from processing pigs and they needed to find a use for all of those ingredients.”
Over the years, the recipes have evolved and been passed down from generation to generation. “I feel like cookies down South are a lot like okra in Louisiana,” Scarborough adds. “Everyone’s okra is the best and everyone’s okra is just a little bit different.”
Joining the company in 2020, Scarborough brings decades of knowledge of Southern cuisine to the table and has arrived with a very personal connection to the company: he grew up in the South regularly eating Bojangles. Hoping to add new, modern twists to the favorites of its youth, Scarborough was enlisted to expand the chain into other markets without compromising the company’s humble beginnings. But in the end, it all comes down to the quality of the cookie.
Who is responsible for ensuring that each cookie meets the Bojangles standard?
Each restaurant has a certified Master Biscuit Baker (MBB) – it’s a real job. Jealousy aside, this is a labor-intensive position that requires extensive training. After countless hours of practice, the hopeful MBB will take a test that will test both their skills and their knowledge. Here they will have to prove that they not only know each of the 49 steps that go into making a Bojangles cookie, but also the reasoning behind each one. The finale is a hands-on exam where they have to bake an entire batch of cookies in five minutes or less under watchful eyes. At the end of baking, all cookies are subject to quality control.
Once this designation is obtained, the new Master Biscuit Baker is responsible for ensuring that quality control is in top condition in his restaurant.
The 49-step process may seem daunting, but they are largely common-sense techniques that, while simple, are still vital to the cookie. “If you cut a corner or skip a step, there will be an impact on the finished product,” adds Scarborough. “When you get that Bojangles cookie experience, it’s soft like a cake on the inside, then you get a nice crispy shell on the outside. You get contrasting textures, just a bit of spiciness from the buttermilk, and then the salty, buttered with butter which we then brush on.It’s all about contrasting these different flavors – salty, sour, salty.
While some techniques may be commonplace, a few require the utmost attention to detail. “The key to a great cookie is just not overworking the dough,” says Scarborough. “That’s when you push the air out of it and there’s no coming back. Or, if you overwork it, you overbuild gluten (a protein that determines whether a product of bakery is dense and fluffy or light and airy).”
Bojangles has made cookie making a precise science, but as the company grows, they continually re-evaluate and re-evaluate the product. “We’re still perfecting it,” Scarborough told Yahoo Life. “We are constantly finding ways because the recipe is the easy part, scaling up the recipe in over 700 restaurants is really difficult. We are constantly refining these procedures and doing everything we can to improve the consistency from place to place.”
Looking to add some Southern comfort to your own kitchen? Scarborough shares some tips for the home cook to use when baking their own cookies.
“Whatever type of fat you choose to use, I like to freeze the fat, then cut it into small pieces with a knife, and then refreeze those small pieces,” he suggests. “I also like to put my flour in the freezer and make sure the buttermilk is frozen.”
“There is a theme,” Scarborough says. “You get all these cold ingredients and you mix them together and then you put them in a 400 degree oven – it’s half a physical reaction and half a chemical reaction that causes the cookies to rise and turn them into these little pillows fluffy with awesomeness.”
In a hurry and want to jazz up store-bought canned cookies? No problem.
“I highly recommend topping them with some sort of margarine-based butter spread before putting them in the oven,” says Scarborough. “The reason margarine is important is that butter burns at higher temperatures. When it comes out of the oven, put some fresh butter on it right after. If you want to go crazy, you can sprinkle a little sea salt on it. High.”
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