January 31, 2016
I didn't grow up eating biscuits as my daily bread. But when I married a man from
Tennessee, I fell down the rabbit hole of the biscuit mystique. Nowadays I don't
make them as often as I crave them, but when I do make them, everyone is happy.
Depending on the proportions of the ingredients, the thickness of the rolling, and
the diameter of the cutter, a biscuit can be one of those fat, heavy "cat's head"
things or a tiny , flaky mouthful. As you might have been able to guess, I'm all about
thin, flaky and melt-in-your-mouth. But if fat and heavy is what you like, you can
adjust this recipe to achieve it.
Basic Biscuit Recipe
2 c. flour*
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda**
3/4 tsp. salt
2 to 7 tbsp cold fat*** (lard, butter, or non-hydrogenated shortening)
3/4 c. liquid: buttermilk, yogurt thinned with milk, sour milk, or milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add the fat, then cut it into the flour using a pastry blender, two knives, or your
fingers, smushing the fat and flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse
You can prepare the biscuits ahead to this point, even as far ahead as the night
before (refrigerate the bowl in warm weather or to keep for more than an hour or
Add the liquid all at once and stir with a fork in one direction until the dough follows
the fork around the bowl. Turn the dough onto a floured board and pull it together
with your hands or with a pastry scraper, then knead it lightly**** half a dozen
Keeping the board sprinkled with flour, roll out the dough to a scant half an inch*****
thickness, cut out biscuits with a cutter or even a drinking glass with a thin edge,
and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. (For my preferred one-bite biscuits, I
use a one and a half inch cutter.) Bake in the 400 degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes,
or until golden brown.
Serve immediately. As my Southern friend Rinky used to say: "Take two and butter
'em while they're hot!"
*All-purpose flour is the usual flour, but with whole wheat flour you can deceive
yourself into thinking they have a bit of nutritional value. Spelt flour, which contains
less gluten than wheat flour, is a good compromise for wheat-sensitive bodies. A
commercial GF mix will work, but it won't (obviously) have that desirable wheat hit.
**If you plan to make your biscuit dough with plain (sweet) milk, then omit the
baking soda. Use the soda when your liquid will be buttermilk, thinned yogurt, or
some other form of soured milk
***The amount of fat you use will determine the tenderness of the biscuit. The
highest amount gives a biscuit almost as tender and flaky as pie crust. If you're
looking for a breadier biscuit, then use 2 or 3 tablespoons of fat.
****Lightness is the key when it comes to biscuits. Don't manhandle your biscuit
*****If you like the cat's head style of biscuit, then pat it to a thickness of 1 1/2 to 2
inches, cut it with a three-inch cutter, and allow a longer baking time--say, 20 to 25
minutes at 375 degrees.
When you have finished your eggs and potatoes and bacon and a biscuit or two,
then butter that last biscuit and add a dollop of, say, lemon marmalade. Dessert.