Sunday, January 18, 2009

Homemade Biscuits

I was blessed to have a childhood where I had many opportunities to travel to the quintessential Grandparents' home. Outside there was a chicken coop where I learned to gather eggs, a barn with cats and a tractor, and rows and rows of crops in every directions from the house. I shelled beans, husked corn, and picked cucumbers on that farm. Inside you could often find a quilt on a large frame that filled the back room, fabric lying next to sewing machine, and my grandmother in the kitchen cooking something. I would set myself down at the kitchen table and watch her every move as she worked in the kitchen - while she constantly told me to get my hair out of my face.

The picture above is from long before I knew my grandmother - in fact - it's before my father was even born. However, it's one of my favorite pictures because, despite the obvious timing issue, that is how I remember my grandparents.
When it was time to make biscuits she'd open a bottom cabinet and pull out a large shallow wooden bowl that had flour and who knows what else in it. She'd add other ingredients - milk, butter, shortening, and other things that my childhood memory does not recall. Eventually she'd have a ball of dough that she'd kneed for a few minutes and then move it to the tabletop to roll out into a flat sheet. She'd use the top of a glass to cut out small circles before placing them in the oven. The biscuits always came out fluffy and golden brown with a light dusting of flour still clinging to them.

I don't know my grandmother's recipe. I don't have a wooden bowl (or a rolling pin for that matter), but I attempted to make some homemade biscuits of my own and here's what I did:

First, I pulled out my America's Test Kitchen cookbook and followed their recipe. It pretty much seems to be the same as this Quick Biscuit recipe from except that America's test kitchen uses all purpose rather than self-rising (plus the stuff to make it rise). Although - the recipe at the site tells you to need for 5 minutes. Don't do that. Just kneed for about 30 seconds until it's smooth. Kneading too long will de-fluff your biscuits!

And, since I didn't have a rolling pin I just patted out the dough into a circle about 3/4" thick and then cut the circle into 8 wedges for the biscuits. (This avoided the whole "cut circles out, re-pat dough, cut circles out, repeat" process) Try not to drag the knife as you cut - rather just push straight down and then pull straight up. Dragging through the dough will cause it to rise unevenly.
Then you put them in the oven and bake.

I love how they look coming out of the oven. I felt very "rustic" serving wedge biscuits. And, they tasted great! 3 cheers for heavy cream rather than butter/milk!

Coming Up Next: Italian Roast Beef, Potatoes Au Gratin, and a few cake tips I've learned since I last posted a Chocolate Layer Cake. (I invited my parents and a friend over for dinner on MLK day since I had the day off - you now get the blog results of that meal!)


  1. I'm going to have to do a post sometime of my biscuit making process. It is much different than yours. I do use buttermilk in mine. The trick to making it not too heavy is to take your time and not overwork the dough. I don't use a rolling pin, but I do use a wooden bowl and my two trusty hands. LOL, I'm very proud of my biscuits. Yours do look yummy. I'll have to look at the recipe you posted.

    Your childhood sounds a lot like mine, except that one set of my grandparents were divorced and remarried. All (3 sets) of them lived very similar. I even remember churning butter, making jams, jellies, and canning everything. I got out in the fields and worked the garden too. As an older child I hated that sort of thing and thought it was "backward". Now that I'm older it's my hearts desire to get back to that. I'd give anything to have the land and be able to raise my children like that. There's a certain level of appreciate that a child gains from being exposed to type of upbringing.

    BTW, I love the pic that you have.

  2. *blushes* ahemmm....I meant "a certain level of appreciation that a child gains".

    Another reason I'd love to have land is so that I could own some sheep or alpaca. I'd love to raise them, sheer their wool, spin and dye my own yarns. Of course, this is only a dream now..but who knows, it could happen. ;-)

  3. I'm more of a roll lover than a biscuit lover, but I must admit you make them look mighty tempting. I really like that wedge look too.

  4. Yummy.

    And your memories of your grandparents are very very different from mine. haha. I remember my grandma teaching my cousins and me to walk around and say "shit" and always calling my grandpa a shithead and screaming at him for being stupid. And my grandpa was my favorite because he'd play with us, like down on the floor and giving us piggy back rides and such.

  5. Lots of food though.. they did the cooking when everyone got together, but it was a lot of Polish and Hungarian food.

    Lots of smoking, beer drinking, cussing, and sillyness. lol

  6. Lauren - you crack me up! My other grandparents lived smack dab in the middle of a big city - so no chickens from them!

    Melody - you should post your recipe!

    Erika - I almost made those rolls you made in the muffin tins - - then realized i had no muffin tin!

  7. i think it'd be great to print the blog and share it with aunt renea or grandmama (maybe she'd have a lucid moment). she'd love that her granddaughter was following in the family heritage!

  8. These biscuits looks yummy. I've only successful made biscuits once. I also love the picture you have of your grandparents! So cool.

    I can't say I have cool memories like that of my grandparents seeing as one set lived in another country until I was 8, and the other side weren't married. But I am with Melody that I'd love to raise my own children this way (and plan on it).

  9. I just realized that it made it sound like my Mom's parent's weren't ever married,they were, they were divorced by the time I was born. :P Just wanted to clarify that.