Recipe: Biscuits

Did you grow up a little bit poor? Maybe you did but didn’t know it. That’s the case with Honi and I.

Our Moms made things that were inexpensive but filling and always had plenty of it on the table. In my case, that meant food that was providing nourishment for up to 10 children every day of the year. Imagine that.

Looking back on our dinner table, there was always plenty of bread and butter as the filler. That’s what you ate when the meat and vegetables were finished but you were still hungry. Our bread was often biscuits right out of the oven. What a great complement to any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Right out of the oven, slathered in butter, with or without grape jelly. Or covered in gravy. Or dipped in a fried egg yolk. Or as the bread for your pot of beans.

The simple biscuit is the homemade bread anyone can make, make quickly, and make well. And it doesn’t have to be limited to breakfast. It goes with any meal of the day. Here are the tips you need to be a biscuit hero. Use only the best ingredients. That means lard rendered from our well-raised pigs, and good butter, preferably the European style, unsalted. These two ingredients are the foundation for a great biscuit taste and texture. Margarine or Crisco will not get you to biscuit heaven.

Handle the dough carefully. Don’t use a rolling pin when you start to press the dough out. Do it by hand and gently.  Whether you use a cookie cutter or a water glass to cut your biscuits, don’t twist the instrument as you cut, just push straight down. Twisting retards the rising of the biscuit.

Here’s how you make this inexpensive but deliciously filling bread for your table - the way Momma B did it.

Momma B's Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4th cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 level T. refined sugar
  • 1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine these 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then transfer to a food processor.

  • 3 T. cold lard
  • 3 T. cold butter, Euro style, unsalted

Cut lard and butter into pats and add to dry mixture in processor. Then pulse this 5 or 6 times until it resembles rough crumbs. Return mixture to mixing bowl.

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

Add milk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball. Turn the ball onto a well-floured surface, pat it down to about an inch thick (gently). Fold it over and pat it down again, approximately 1 inch thick.

Use a floured glass or cookie cutter to form the biscuits, put them on a sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes to a golden brown.
 
You too can be a biscuit hero.

JVF