The January 2012 issue of The Tennessee Magazine featured an article on homemade biscuits. Perfect timing. It was cold outside, I was feeling like I wanted to channel my inner Susie homemaker — and I was hungry.
I never grew up on homemade biscuits other than drop biscuits from Bisquick (I had a modern mother who used convenience foods popular at the time).
In my memory, I always thought of biscuits as being hard to make. I blame this on my home economics teacher from 7th grade. One class, she taught us how to make biscuits. Before the end of class, each team selected their best specimen for judging. I remember her breaking each one apart and looking for the presence or lack of air pockets. Invariably, they were all dry and tough – but perfectly shaped because we worked them to death.
This article said “they are best when made as quickly as possible” and I was all for that! I was ready to put it to the test. Of the six different biscuit recipes in the article (from the Pick Tennessee Products website), I’ve tried two so far: Baking Powder Biscuits and Buttermilk Biscuits.
My favorite so far are the Buttermilk Biscuits — they can’t be beat. They are moist and light and so easy to make. I’ve tried this recipe 2-3 times with great success. Each time, I’ve used a cast iron skillet. The recipe calls for a “cast iron biscuit baker”. I was not sure what this was and looked it up on the internet – it appears to be a pan with individual compartments, like a muffin pan. I did not have that kind of pan, but frankly, it seems unnecessary – I would think they would come out with too much hard crust. I like my biscuits with the sides touching so they are more moist.
I tried it with a regular cast iron “frying pan” with high sides and a round cast iron griddle with no sides. I liked the griddle better because it was easier to get out of the pan. I did not shape individual biscuits. Instead, I formed one round loaf with my hands, flattened to about and inch and a half. I took a bread knife and scored the dough almost all the way through to make it easier to pull the biscuits apart when done. Eat them hot when they come right out of the oven.
And surprisingly, they are very healthy — hardly any fat in the recipe. For a variation, substitute whole wheat flour for half of what the recipe calls for. Yum.
Here is the recipe from the magazine.
You will need:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard
- 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a cast iron biscuit baker or baking pan and set aside.
Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or 2 forks until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir until a soft dough is formed, about 25 strokes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 times. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch cutter and transfer to the prepared pan. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.
Yield: 12 to 14 biscuits