For the past 10 years, Alabama Chanin and Heath have been in a close collaborative relationship creating our line of etched ceramics with patterns that echo the hand-stitching Alabama Chanin is famous for in their textiles and apparel. But the relationship isn’t only about creativity and business; it’s also a deep friendship that began even further back between founder Natalie Chanin and Heath co-owners Cathy Bailey and Robin Petravic. Though based thousands of miles apart, they’ve found as many opportunities as possible to bring their families together, travel, and bounce ideas about running values-driven, design-centric businesses.
Each time Heath team members have the chance to visit Alabama, we look forward to the meals we will share, especially Natalie’s phenomenal biscuits—a staple on the Southern plate. She was generous enough to share her recipe with us to offer our community. It’s not quite the same as eating them in the sunny Southern air, but it’ll do—and then some.
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided (look for an unbleached all-purpose flour with about a 8.5% protein or less) 2 teaspoons baking powder (use homemade if you can—recipe below*) 1 teaspoon salt (use a bit more if you like a salty biscuit) 1/4 lb. cold unsalted butter 3/4 cup whole milk
1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour with the baking powder and salt and whisk thoroughly (or sift together).
3. Cut in cubed butter using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. (You may also use your fingers for this step by smearing the butter into the flour.)
4. Add milk and stir gently until a soft dough forms.
5. Use remaining 1 cup of flour (without baking powder and salt) to lightly coat a Biscuit Cloth or clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Sprinkle more flour as needed on cloth and dough to keep from sticking.
6. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough 1/4-inch thick, fold in half, then roll out to 1/4-inch thick again to laminate (or flatten) butter into layers. Repeat several times until the butter is all flattened and the dough feels springy to the touch. Southern tradition says to handle the dough as little as possible to get a soft biscuit. My favorite biscuit is flaky and has a bit more structure. To achieve this, I roll and fold the dough approximately 6-7 times to create laminated layers.
7. Finish by rolling out dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a lightly floured 2-1/4-inch round cutter, stamp out biscuits as close together as possible.
8. Pat the dough scraps together, laminate the dough together again, and stamp out more biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure that the sides of the biscuits are touching to get additional rise from your dough.
Classic biscuit makers will tell you to skip this step; however, I was taught to be thrifty and use every bit of the dough. If you prefer to not use the leavings of the dough, shape gently into rounds or bake as-is.
8. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and the tops are golden brown. If you find that your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the pan at 5 minutes. Stay close to the oven and watch the baking process as biscuits can quickly over-bake and become dry.
9. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes.
10. Add butter and jam. Enjoy.
*Homemade Baking Powder (from Scott Peacock)
1/4 cup cream of tartar (organic preferred) 2 tablespoons baking soda
A note about Project Threadways For nearly 20 years, Natalie and her colleagues have been collecting oral histories from locals in the northern Alabama region, where the textile industry has long existed and has seen many eras—some of them bright; others grim. In 2019, this project coalesced into a non-profit called Project Threadways, which is dedicated to documenting regional stories about textiles. Project Threadways now hosts an annual symposium to facilitate dialogue and build community.
Some of Natalie Chanin's favorite things from Heath:
Magnolia Dinnerware Set
This 5-piece dinnerware set features one each of the hand-etched patterns in our Alabama Chanin collection: Dinner Plate etched in Camellia, named for the Alabama state flower, Salad Plate etched in Seed Stitch, inspired by classic mending stitch patterns, and B&B plate in Echo, freeform and serendipitous. These pieces are complemented with our classic Coupe Cereal bowl and Large Mug and every piece is glazed in glossy Opaque White. A brilliant way to add neutral texture to your dinner table.
An acknowledged modern classic. David Mellor's first cutlery, designed in 1953, is now in many international collections and has been redesigned in stainless steel. This beautiful flatware set exudes all the mid-century elegant simplicity that David Mellor Design is famous for. This five-piece set includes two forks, two spoons, and a knife.
Handmade in Wisconsin by master woodworker Edward Wohl, this birdseye maple cutting board is not only ideal for everyday use, but can be savored for serving or simply hung for decoration (we're serious, they're that beautiful). Try using one side for cutting and saving the other for display. Wood grain may vary slightly with each piece.