Thursday, November 13, 2008

Homemade Biscuits

When I wrote about making apple butter earlier this week, I mentioned eating it on warm biscuits. It occurred to me that perhaps not everyone knows how to make biscuits from scratch. So here's my recipe, with a few variations thrown in for good measure:

First, the ingredients:

2 cups sifted flour (I like Hudson Cream flour best, don't ask me why. It just seems to give me a better end result)

2 tsp. baking powder (Clabber Girl is my choice. The others are probably fine--how do we develop these preferences anyway?)

2/3 cup butter or shortening

1/2 tsp. salt

roughly 3/4 cup cold milk

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder with a fork.
Add the butter or shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or a fork until it is rice-sized particles (okay, I'm not so picky about this, but you don't want big ol' chunks of butter in your batter!).

Add the milk, using just enough to make a stiff batter. Too much and your biscuits will be hard to pat out; too much and your biscuits won't be as light as they could be. Mix it in quickly with a fork; don't overwork your batter or your biscuits will lose their soft texture.

Pat out your batter on a floured surface to about 3/4" to 1" thick. You may need to knead in a little more flour if your batter is sticky. I pat a little flour on top too, to make the biscuits easier to cut and handle. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake at 400-450 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly browned on top and bottom. (I pull one open to check inside for doneness.)

Then eat! Best warm with real butter and homemade jam, jelly--or apple butter!

Now for some variations: you can add grated sharp cheese and chopped or crushed dry parsley or a little crushed red pepper with the milk for a good dinner biscuit. Or experiment with other combinations of cheeses and herbs.

Cinnamon sugar can be mixed with the flour mixture for a sweet biscuit--when they're baked and have cooled slightly, ice with a glaze of powdered sugar and water.

Larry's Biscuits

Larry uses the same ingredients as above, except he leaves out the butter/shortening. Instead, mix the dry ingredients, then go ahead with the milk and mixing. Pour vegetable oil onto the cookie sheet. Cut the biscuits the same as above, but when you place them on the cookie sheet, turn them over once so that the vegetable oil coats the top and bottom. Then bake as above.

Drop Biscuits

Use the same recipe, except add more milk so the batter is thick but not so thick you can pat it out (about 1 cup of milk instead of 3/4 should be about right. Drop the batter by large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake as above.

Drop biscuits can be modified by the addition of cheese, herbs, sugar and cinnamon, etc. They are more tender and crumbly, and so good with soups and stews.

You can use self-rising flour for this recipe and it's actually even easier to make biscuits that way. Simply eliminate the backing powder and salt, and add a little more flour to the mix (maybe 1/4 cup?).

I hope these directions are clear enough. If something confuses you, please ask! When you make a recipe over and over, you tend to get so comfortable with the process you forget what you do!

If you have a different biscuit recipe, I'd love to see it.


Laura said...

This made me smile. My grandmother always made really good biscuits. It was fun to watch her because she didn't use a recipe. She always said it depended on how many people were eating as to how much of everything to put in. She always let my daughter help her. She'd even give her some scraps to make her own biscutis and cook. What a memory you brought out today. Thanks!!

Granny Sue said...

Your grandmother was right, Laura--I have to adjust it depending on the number of people at the table! If my sons are home with their children, 5 cups of flour is what I might use, and the rest of the ingredients are upped to correspond.

I'll bet your grandmother made good biscuits. Anyone who understands the importance of letting children cook with them has to be a good cook.

Matthew Burns said...

Okay, now you've done it. Biscuits are my weakness, and now you've gone and whetted my appetite. I have many, many different biscuit recipes. My most used is very similar to your first one. I also prefer Hudson Cream flour. It is just as superior product. I've also had good results with Robin Hood flour. I also prefer Clabber Girl, but mainly because that's what my Grandmaw Mary used.

I have recipes for regular biscuits, baking soda biscuits, Alabama biscuits, Angel biscuits, Kentucky Ham biscuits, Bacon Biscuits, sweet roll biscuits, Easy biscuits, sourdough biscuits and even Slopdough biscuits. The interesting thing about slopdough biscuits is that they are named that because you just slop the ingredients together and drop them onto a baking sheet. Mom gave them that name because they look like slop but taste really good.

My mother-in-law, or Mawmaw as I call her, makes cheater biscuits all of the time. She mixes Hudson Cream self-rising flour and buttermilk together until it forms a wet dough, then pats the dough out on floured waxed paper. She cuts out the biscuits and bakes them in a well-oiled (about 4 Tbsp.) cast iron skillet. She heats the cast iron skillet and the oil in it on a stove burner until the oil is hot, then lays the biscuit in the skillet, and then turns it over so that both sides are oiled. The remaining oil will make the bottoms of your biscuits crispy. She bakes them skillet of biscuits at 450 degrees, for about 10 minutes or until they are brown. These are quite good and are very popular at Church Socials.


Matthew Burns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Granny Sue said...

My goodness, who knew there were so many kinds!

Your slopdough biscuits sound like my drop biscuits, Matthew. They were the first ones I made and I was so proud of them. And your cheater biscuits are very like Larry's biscuits--he learned to make those from his mother.

My neighbor Louise was the best biscuit maker I've ever known. Her's were light and flaky and just as good cold as hot--they were very like bread. She kneaded her dough. I had the recipe for angel biscuits but honestly they sounded like so much work!

Janet, said...

We love biscuits. I cheat and use a biscuit mix such as Jiffy, Kroger brand or Bisquick (whichever I get the best deal on). And I use buttermilk instead of milk. I knead mine also, except for the drop biscuits. I make them when I'm in a hurry and when we have creamed tomatoes for breakfast. We break up the drop biscuits, dab with butter and pour the creamed tomatoes on top- -mmm! mmm! I bake mine on a baking stone. I love them,they never get too brown on the bottom when you use a baking stone

Granny Sue said...

buttermilk--oh yeah, that's the best! I used to do that when we had a cow. I never got the hang of the boxed mixes though--I guess because I usually keep flour and baking powder on hand so it's just as easy for me to use those.

I do not think I have ever had creamed tomatoes, although I have heard people talk about them. I bet Larry would love them--his granny probably made them. Maybe you could put that recipe on your blog sometime, Janet.

earth heart said...

Woman, you make my mouth water. My mom used to make the biggest, fluffiest biscuits ever. I've never been able to master them quite so well but I keep trying.

I've never heard of Hudson Cream flour or seen it available around here.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sue,
Yum, hot biscuits are the best. When I first started to make them, they were hard as rocks and kind of tasted like rocks (um..not that I eat rocks). After a while, I got the technique down and now can whip them up so they are tasty, but I can't do it without a recipe!

The Tile Lady said...

My grandmother always used an "old-timey" flour to make her biscuits. The newer flours like Gold Medal and Pillsbury Self-rising, don't really work. They've done too much to the flour and it doesn't make a good biscuit. It gets more and more difficult to find the older style fours. My grandmother never used a recipe was all in her head, and hers were always perfect! Me....I can't make a decent biscuit to save me! :-)I will try your recipe, after I find some better flour than what's in the cupboard! :-)


Kansas Scout said...

Thanks for the recipe. I will give it a try. I discovered Hudson Cream flour a few months ago and found that it really is better.
I have been trying to find the perfect buscuit recipe..I use Hudson Cream self rising.

Lisa said...

Biscuits look wonderful. I read an interesting article on white lily flour, which I had never heard of, talks about the proteins in flour and how low protein is better for biscuits and high levels are best for bread/rolls. Other secret tips I have read, don't handle the dough too much, don't wiggle the cutter it causes them not to rise as good. And best tmep. is 500 degrees. I had never baked at such a high level but it worked great. By the way is your flour self rising or all purpose? Thanks.


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