Atlanta-based food writer, baker, and self-proclaimed “biscuit Jedi” Erika Council just launched an in-town biscuit delivery service sparked by her wildly successful Bomb Biscuits popups. With the need to pivot the popup business due to the ongoing health crisis, Bomb Biscuits now features “the Biscuit Drop”, delivering fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits and pies to neighborhoods around Atlanta.
“You don’t see a lot of Black women when it comes to bread baking,” says Council. “We have just completely been removed from the narrative, even sourdough. Everything I learned about bread came from Black women in my life.”
Her family, specifically her grandmothers, were Council’s introduction to baking. There is a long legacy of culinary excellence in her blood. Her paternal grandmother Mildred “Mama Dip” Council, known for her restaurant Mama Dip’s Kitchen Restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is a southern cooking icon and award-winning cookbook author. Her maternal grandmother, Geraldine Dortch, made cakes she sold to support the civil rights movement in Goldsboro, North Carolina, during the 1960s.
So why biscuits? “It was the first thing I learned how to make,” Council says. “You’d get a basket of biscuits and cornbread with every meal at Mama Dips, so I grew up seeing and doing. My other grandma made them almost every morning, so it just was something that I ended up being able to do with my eyes closed.”
Council recalls the moment she learned the power of a biscuit. It was through a story her maternal grandmother told her about when she was getting her master’s degree from Colombia University in the 1940s. Her grandmother went to a restaurant where everything was segregated, yet some white students sat down with her.
“There was a basket of bread, and she’s talking about how awful the biscuits were. She struck up a conversation with these two white guys that sat at the table with them, and at the point, she’s telling me this story, that would have been 50 or 60 years ago,” recalls Council. “It changed her view on so many things. I don’t know, maybe that’s why biscuits just stuck with me for so long.”
Although she went to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro for computer science, and still consults, Council’s heart steered her back to food. She started her blog Southern Souffle in 2012. It became a place for her to write recipes interwoven with raw stories about African-American food and social justice. Council’s food writing, which has also appeared in publications like The New York Times, Food and Wine magazine, and Essence magazine, on top of numerous cookbook contributions and recipes developed for brands such as KitchenAid, ultimately helped paved the way for her to open her first baking business, Bomb Biscuits.
While Council found success in food writing, she longed to return to cooking and eventually began a series of Sunday suppers. Raised on the tradition of Sunday suppers, Council began opening up her table to diners. It started as family and friends, but evolved into strangers joining the suppers. It was during a Sunday supper held at Kimball House in Decatur where Council first met B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue owner and pitmaster Bryan Furman. After tasting her apple butter, Furman invited her to cook breakfast with him at his then newly opened Riverside neighborhood restaurant. At Council’s first breakfast popup there, she paired her biscuits with Furman’s smoked and meaty barbecue. The popup found instant success at B’s, Council says, something she never anticipated. Bomb Biscuits was born.
Sadly, the Saturday biscuit popups Council held regularly at B’s for nearly two years came to end last March when a fire destroyed Furman’s restaurant. The pair continue collaborating together, while Furman works to eventually reopen his popular barbecue restaurant.
Since her days at B’s, Council has expanded upon her biscuit popups to include catering. However, she had to rethink the entire business model this past spring amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Council began selling a biscuit box for delivery around Atlanta. Like her popups, the biscuit boxes became popular and sold out quickly.
She runs the fledgling biscuit delivery business with her 19-year-old daughter (who is currently working her way through a Marcella Hazan cookbook) and a small band of people assisting with deliveries around town. Bomb Biscuits now features a weekly menu where people can order online for delivery. Council is working on expanding the delivery radius, too. Currently, deliveries are limited to neighborhoods and cities inside the Perimeter of Atlanta, including Vinings, West End, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Grant Park, and the Decatur area.
Look for boxes of a half-dozen, fully baked buttermilk biscuits with warming instructions, a jam of the week, like the recent ginger peach, and a pie of the week, such as peach pie with a biscuit crumble using Pearson Farm peaches. Council also offers a vegan biscuit box, substituting butter and buttermilk in the biscuits with almond milk and vegan butter. Biscuit boxes range between $15 and $30 each.
Those interested in ordering should sign up for the newsletter, which features the date of the next biscuit drop going live online. Delivery days are dictated by neighborhood location. Council is looking into coordinated neighborhood biscuit drops to keep up with demand and to expand Bomb Biscuits into other areas of metro Atlanta.