Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mom's biscuits

It took awhile to find a recipe and learn the tricks of making the kind of baking-powder biscuits mom used to make on the farm. After a few tries, I think I'm getting there.

One of the reasons recipes like this were popular in farming communities is that people milked their own cows and had their own cream, a major ingredient.

John gets ready for a taste test.

Trust John to adopt a good pose for the photographer!
Mom made baking-powder biscuits as effortlessly as she brewed a pot of tea. She'd throw flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, add cream (from cows milked that morning) until the dough stuck together, toss it on the counter to roll it out, cut circles with a water glass, put them in the oven -- and 20 minutes later, voila! Light, tender, warm rounds of biscuits.

Because it was so easy for her, I assumed I would have no trouble if and when I ever wanted to make such biscuits myself. But I didn't get her instructions (her recipe was probably in her head) before she died, and every version I could find included at least some butter instead of straight cream.

Eventually one popped up as part of a magazine article on making excellent fried chicken. "Cream Biscuits" are apparently considered an appropriate side dish for same, but I didn't care -- the recipe looked exactly like mom's.

My first attempts did not go well. The instructions are to "pat" the dough into a circle about an inch thick before cutting it into wedges. Taking this as a warning to treat it gently, I eschewed a rolling pin, and depended on my hands to squash it down. It was far more than an inch thick, it wasn't a circle, and it didn't cut well. The result? Odd-shaped towers of triangular biscuits, uncooked in the middle.

On Tuesday, I channeled mom's no-nonsense attitude. A rolling pin, firmly applied, got the dough down to an inch, and a water glass cut out even-sized circles. The resulting biscuits were tender, cooked through, and with butter and jam applied, almost as good as mom's. Not as easy as brewing a pot of tea, though.

Flaky, tender and warm, with a bit of butter melting on it. Yes, I know it's incredibly indulgent, but John and I both preceded it with  a bowl of kale salad.  

Raspberry jam adds the final touch. This is bought jam, but what made the biscuits memorable on the farm was home-made jam from wild raspberries. No other jam can approach it. 

The recipe, which I found in a magazine article about making fried chicken. 


  1. Ah...and just when I was thinking about making baking powder biscuits. On Sunday, Linda brought some baking powder biscuits like Red Lobster has...very yummy and got me thinking about making them. It must be the cream! My mother's weren't so great. My father often called them "Kill me quicks". I believe she used skim milk from powder.

  2. Here's the Red Lobster recipe...
    Now I don’t know about you guys but I absolutely love discovering copycat recipes from Pinterest. From this Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana to PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef, I am having a blast recreating some of my restaurant favorites. And these cheddar bay biscuits are no exception. The best part about it is that it literally only takes 20 min to make! There’s no kneading or rolling of any kind. Simply stir everything together, drop them onto a baking sheet and that’s it. From there, you’ll have the flakiest, most fluffy biscuit you could possibly dream of, with a hit of spiciness from the cayenne pepper. And with that melted butter brushed right on, it is absolute perfection. Just be sure to practice some self control before you devour all 10 of these like I did!
    These copycat biscuits are so easy to make in just 20 min, and they taste a million times better!


    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    2 teaspoons garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
    1 cup buttermilk
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
    1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper, if using.
    In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and butter. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Gently fold in cheese.
    Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
    For the topping, whisk together butter, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl. Working one at a time, brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter mixture.
    Serve immediately.