Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Baking Powder Biscuits

I will admit, I have a weakness for carbohydrates, and in particular I just love rolls, bread and biscuits.  There was a period of time when you could count on me to purchase a can or two of those Pillsbury biscuits  or recently the kind that are frozen in the bag.  But I suppose these simple "luxuries" didn't always exist for my Grandma, so it's no wonder there are lots of bread and biscuit recipes in her recipe box.  Today I decided to take on one of her biscuit recipes, Baking Powder Biscuits.  These aren't hard to make, but there is an art to making good fluffy biscuits, and I have not mastered it.  After some reading, I made a second batch of these, just to see if I could get them to raise and be fluffier than my first batch.  The secret seems to be in how cold the shortening is and making sure you don't "over work" the dough. I also read that using a hot oven helps the biscuits raise.  Of course, my Grandma's recipe doesn't have all these details and didn't give an oven temperature.  I wish I could say that my 2nd batch was perfect, but I think I need to make a few more batches before I can declare perfection (now I know why Bisquick and canned/frozen biscuits are so popular).Here's the recipe and a picture...but today's there's another story to the biscuits...thanks to the dogs.
Baking Powder Biscuits
2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp shortening
3/4 to 1 cup milk or water and milk
Sift dry ingredients, cut in shortening.  Add milk gradually mixing with knife.  Dough should be as soft as can be handled without sticking.  Turn on to lightly floured board.  Roll 3/4 inch thick.  Bake in hot oven 12 to 15 minutes.
Ok, so now the rest of the many who take food pictures know, the best pictures happen when you find a spot where the natural light comes through.  Today, that place was in my front room on the coffee table.  The biscuits were staged and I was waiting for the perfect light.  In doing so, I walked away for awhile and was planning to come back when the sun came out.  Good news was the sun came out and I was ready to snap a few photos, but as I looked down at the bowl, my biscuits were MISSING, GONE, I was left with Jelly...I was shocked...and then I saw the crumbs on the floor and one big happy 100 lb (plus 3 biscuits) chocolate lab.  He gave them a passing grade...I am gonna have to break the news to Bubba that he's been replaced.
This is the recipe I followed.  As you can see, it is pretty torn, tattered and dirty...that means it must have gotten some use.  The other clipping was filed away right there with the recipe card...always good to have a back-up!


  1. Keep practicing, it really isn't that difficult and so quick to do. Also if you read the ingredients on those ready made biscuits you will find that you are getting more than you bargained for!

  2. The first thing I can say is that it takes practice, practice, and more practice. I never really use cold shortening, I think it is pain to remember to put it in the fridge. I do sometimes use half butter and half shortening. Also, depending on where you live, your kitchen, humidity, etc., you might discover you need even less than 3/4 cup of milk, maybe as little as 1/4 cup. I mention this because if the dough is very sticky, it becomes hard not to overwork it either when mixing or rolling. A couple of things I've discovered over the years...Before I roll the dough, I fold it over on itself several times. Not kneading really, just creating layers, if that makes sense. Secondly, I don't roll the dough. I used my hands to gently press it into a rectangle of the appropriate thickness. To really avoid overworking the dough, at this point some people use a knife to cut the dough into square biscuits, leaving no scraps and no need to rework/reroll the dough. If you do cut biscuits with a cutter, it needs to have sharp edges and you need to push down without turning or twisting the cutter. The last thing I discovered is that if you have the time, letting the biscuits rest on the baking sheet before baking, 10 to 20 minutes can really help...As for the baking sheet, I have always used what in my mother's house was referred to as a biscuit pan...a shallow metal pan with four sides. I guess we called it that because we really only made biscuits on them! The oven temperature should probably be between 425 and 450 degrees fahrenheit.

  3. Thanks for the coaching and encouragement Susan and Janice..I'll keep at it! For the Dog's sake :)


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