I can remember my aunts making biscuits daily. I had no idea that this wasn’t normal…that others ate biscuits from a can or a fast food restaurant. Poor things. I fear that biscuit making is a dying art. I used to stuff myself silly with hot biscuits fresh from the oven. My mother swore I was going to die of biscuit poisoning from eating so many. I guess that is why I wore plus size clothes in elementary school! This is my sad, silly story about an expert biscuit maker.
The tombstone said she died of biscuit poisoning, poor thing. I heard she exploded from eating so many. Biscuits were her downfall and her demise. Yes, she could walk away from decadent chocolate cake, doughnuts or pie but when it came to biscuits she had no control whatsoever. Tender flaky biscuits, hot out of the oven and then slathered with butter and jelly, country ham, honey, apple butter, fried chicken, or whatever. It was just too much. Still staring at the tombstone, I whispered to the man next to me, “What was so special about her biscuits?” He replied, “The biscuits she baked were no ordinary biscuits. They were so tender they could make a man cry or moan, perhaps both. You can’t get the quality of the ones she made at the grocery store or at a fast food restaurant. They had to be homemade like your grandmother used to make.” “It’s a shame,” he said staring off into the distance, “The next generation will not know what really great biscuits taste like. All they’ve known are poor imitations of the real thing.”
I’ve never made a man cry but I have made men moan with my cooking! I’ve discovered that you can make homemade biscuits in the time it takes to bake frozen ones if you do some advance preparation. Just a couple of tips: 1. Purchase flour made in the South that is a soft wheat flour perfect for biscuits. Two of my favorite biscuit flours are White Lilly Self-Rising flour and Southern Biscuit Self-Rising Flour. 2. Measure the self-rising flour and cut in the shortening in advance. Store enough for one recipe in plastic bags the freezer. When you are ready to make the biscuits, just add the buttermilk, pat them out, cut and bake. Keeping the shortening flour mixture frozen and the buttermilk ice-cold makes the biscuits extra moist and flaky. 3. Manipulating the dough too much makes for heavy tough biscuit. Don’t over mix! (My dad called these hockey pucks)! 4. Avoid biscuit poisoning! (It will negatively affect your waistline!)
2 cups self rising flour
1/3 cup butter flavor all vegetable shortening
2/3 to 3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 500 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir flour with a fork to fluff the flour. Gently spoon flour into a 1 cup measuring cup, making sure not to tap the cup. Level flour with the straight edge of a knife. Repeat and pour 2 cups of flour into a medium size bowl. Cut in butter flavored shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until pieces of shortening are the size of peas. Pour in 2/3 cup cold buttermilk. Using a fork gently lift (don’t stir) the flour mixture until all the flour has been wet with the buttermilk. If you still have a couple of dry spots add a few drops of additional buttermilk to wet the flour. The dough will look shaggy. Use a rubber spatula to pour dough onto a lightly floured surface.
Flour fingertips. Pat the dough to flatten slightly then fold in half. Repeat 3 more times. Pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Flour a 2 inch biscuit cutter or a can with both ends cut out. (If you use a glass or can with the bottom closed the dough will compress and not rise as high) Cut biscuits as close together as possible. Do not twist the cutter or pat the sides of the biscuits when you put them on the baking sheet (this also makes them not rise as high). Place on baking sheet with sides touching (with sides touching, the biscuits can rise higher as they provide structural support for each other). Reroll scraps only once. Makes 12 biscuits. Bake at 500 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Tip: For thicker biscuits roll dough 1-inch thick and cut 6 biscuits. Baking time will be 10 to 12 minutes. Enjoy Friends!
Published in The News and Neighbor on May 17, 2014