Here's the Winning Recipe from the 2016 International Biscuit Festival

We bet you've never thought to top a biscuit with these ingredients.

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Courtesy of the International Biscuit Festival

Last weekend, more than 20,000 people strolled the streets of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, in search of the perfect buttery, flaky, soft, scrumptious biscuit—a task that required sampling dozens of homemade and professional recipes, from sweet, fluffy creations drizzled with honey to savory breakfast sandwiches dripping in gravy. A place where indulging in yummy biscuits all afternoon is condoned, even encouraged? Why, yes, it was all part of the seventh-annual International Biscuit Festival

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The event centers around a baking competition in which entrants vie for titles such as best savory biscuit, best sweet biscuit, best booth, people's choice, and critic's choice. A panel of judges, as well as the crowds of "biscuits lovers," determine the winners. 

Matt Sandbank of Austin, Texas, who had competed numerous times in previous years, beat out 11 other competitors with his caraway biscuits, snagging the title of Grand Champion. His recipe also won the sweet category. 

A native of North Carolina, Sandbank told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he began baking after moving to Nasvhille and learning that his favorite breakfast chain didn't have a location there.  "There are plenty of biscuit places in Nashville but no Biscuitville, so I taught myself to make biscuits to fill in the Biscuitville-shaped hole in my life," he said.

Sandbank's recipe isn't in any restaurant (yet!) but he has shared the recipe for those who'd like to try it: 

The "Take-All-My-Cares-Away, Almond Caraway!" Biscuit

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Almond paste:

  • 1 ½ cups almonds
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 ½ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp salt

    Caraway syrup:

    • ½ cup water
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 4 ½ Tbsp caraway seeds
    • For the biscuit dough:
    • 2 cups self-rising flour
    • 6 Tbsp butter
    • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (3/4 cup measured with ¼ cup in reserve)

      Biscuit topping:

      • 1 small carton heavy whipping cream
      • 1 Granny Smith apple
      • 1 small packet blanched, slivered almonds
      • Handful of caraway seeds


        Almond paste: In a food processor, blend almonds until they become a thick paste. Add remaining ingredients and blend until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

        Caraway syrup: Add caraway seeds to the water and bring water to a boil. After water is thoroughly tinted brown (2-3 minutes of boiling), reduce to medium heat, stir in sugar and simmer until very thick, about 12 or so additional minutes. Allow to cool completely before use.

        Biscuits: Cut butter into small (1-2 cm) cubes and add to flour. Use a pastry cutter to further cut butter into flour. Work quickly to ensure the butter does not have time to begin melting. Cut until no butter pieces are larger than pea-sized. Make a well in the center of the butter/flour mixture and pour in ¾ cup of almond milk. Stir gently, taking care not to overwork the dough. Add ¼ cup of almond milk in reserve, if needed. Dough should be fairly sticky at the end of mixing. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour on top and lightly press out the dough. Fold in half and press out again. Repeat several times with as light a touch as possible.

        Press out dough one last time and begin cutting out biscuits with a small circular biscuit tin (I use a 2 inch-diameter tin). Arrange biscuits in a cast iron skillet with deep sides. Begin by placing first biscuit in the center of the skillet and place subsequent biscuits next to center biscuit, moving outward in a circle, so all biscuits' edges are touching one another. Once all biscuits are in skillet, use a well-floured thumb to press a well into the center of each biscuit. Press each well gently but firmly until you can feel the bottom of the skillet with your thumb. Press outward gently to make a well that is about 1 inch in diameter, though there is no need to be perfectly exact on this score. Fill each well with prepared almond paste. Do not quite fill to the brim of the well.

        Bake biscuits at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at 8 minutes if the biscuits appear to be getting unevenly baked.

        While oven is heating for biscuits, put slivered almonds on a cookie tray and toast them slightly.

        While biscuits are baking, dice granny smith apple into very small, 1 cm cubes. Put whipping cream in blender or food processor and blend until crème fraiche is achieved. When biscuits are done, allow them to cool for 2-3 minutes, then top with crème fraiche. Sprinkle apples and slivered almonds and (in smaller amount) caraway seeds on top of crème fraiche.

        Pour one spoonful of caraway syrup on top of the biscuit/crème fraiche/sprinkles.

        Makes 10-12 servings.

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