January 23

Biscuit baker rises to occasion, wins Biddeford startup funds

She plans to open Biscuits & Co. downtown with funding from the Main Street Challenge.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

One of Stacy Cooper’s sandwiches consists of a halved biscuit with smoked cheddar cheese, nitrate-free bacon, an over-easy egg, spiced tomato jam and arugula.

Carl D. Walsh / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Stacy Cooper makes biscuits in her Arundel kitchen. She plans to open Biscuits & Co. in downtown Biddeford with funding from the Main Street Challenge. Carl D. Walsh / Staff Photographer

Main street challenge WINNERS

The Heart of Biddeford’s Main Street Challenge chooses up to three new businesses to support with a prize package worth $20,000 in cash and in-kind services. This year’s three winners are:

Desert Moon Leathers - handmade leather goods by Mike Harris

Micro-Brewery - a craft brewery and tasting room from Shonee Strickland

Biscuits & Company - a biscuit bakery using specialty Maine grains, from Stacy Cooper

 

The star of the menu will be biscuits. Biscuit-themed restaurants are popping up all over the country now – in New York, Chicago, Asheville, Jacksonville and the other Portland. Food & Wine magazine put biscuits on its list of what’s going to be “Hot in 2014.” Andrew Freeman & Co., a San Francisco-based hospitality and restaurant consultant, says biscuits will steal the culinary spotlight this year from croissants and pretzel buns.

When Cooper finally took her biscuits out of the oven, they were lightly browned and a little larger than shuffleboard pucks, which oddly enough are also called biscuits.

The Pillsbury Doughboy would not recognize these dense, toothsome hunks of homemade comfort food. Crunchy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside, Cooper’s biscuits are made with a mixture of King Arthur flour and 20 percent Maine Grains whole wheat flour, Kate’s Butter, Kate’s Buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder and a touch of sugar.

She made a sandwich with one of them, stacking a halved biscuit with Pineland smoked cheddar cheese, nitrate-free bacon, an over-easy egg, spiced tomato jam and arugula.

Growing up, Cooper made biscuits with her mother and grandmother, but this is her own recipe, developed after innumerable test batches that were donated to friends and the coffee hour at her church.

“I do a jalapeno-cheddar with cornmeal in it that’s really, really good, so there’s lots of flavors that we’re playing around with,” she said. “In the summer, I did a peach-and-plum biscuit. It was really just a plain biscuit with slices of peaches and plums stuck in the top, and they kind of caramelized with a little sugar and got nice and juicy.”

In addition to breakfast sandwiches, Biscuits & Co. will sell lunch-friendly fillings such as pulled pork or chicken, maple barbecue sauce and cole slaw; seafood salad topped with herbs; and ham and cheddar with chutney. The biscuits also will be the centerpiece of shortcakes made with fruit compote and brown sugar creme fraiche.

At least half of Biscuit & Co’s menu will feature the biscuits, but to make the bakery sustainable Cooper also plans to bake some breads, cookies, tarts, scones and hand pies. The same dough used to make the biscuits will be used as a crust for chicken and seafood pot pies, and to make goat cheese roll-ups with sundried tomatoes and herbs.

Also in the works is a bread-and-butter CSA in which members will receive a weekly box of biscuits and accompaniments that include products such as local jams and flavored butters.

Cooper has projected she needs about $45,000 for her startup. The Main Street Challenge requires winners to match its $10,000 loan, but Cooper said she plans to invest about twice that through investors and “creative crowd sourcing.”

“We’ll start out as kind of a breakfast and lunch place,” she said. “I want it to be kind of a community center, too. I want it to be the kind of place where people feel like they can gather, where local organizations can have meetings, where we can have tastings and workshops and classes where people can come to learn about nutrition and handmade food and using grains and all kinds of things.

“So I really see it as more than just a restaurant, although it’s all going to be centered around the biscuit.”

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

mgoad@pressherald.com

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