Biscuits, Version 1

Confession: until Saturday, I had no idea how to make biscuits. Every time I tried to make them in the past, they turned out hard as rocks, gross, disgusting, and/or inedible.

My mother, aunt Leia, cousin Megan, and two grandmothers are hanging their heads in shame right now, embarrassed at my admission. They are all expert biscuit makers. I can hear them all the way over there in Limestone County, saying one of the following statements: (while rolling eyes and laughing) “oh, Beth, they’re not that hard;” or (being the natural educators/sharers that they are) “well hon, all you havta ┬ádo is git you a lil’ flour, a lil’ bit uh milk, and some Crisco and butter, mix it all together, roll it out, cut ’em up, and put ’em in the oven;” or (in a scolding, accusatory tone) “how many times did I make you biscuits for breakfast and you stood there and watched me?” and (in exasperation, and with a tinge of disappointment) “Ain’t that sumthin. You can go off and get yourself a PhD but still not know how to biscuits. Lord help us.”

My summer plans include learning how to create the perfect biscuit. I got a jump start on those plans on Saturday, when I found myself with a weekend night – gasp – at home – double gasp – with no plans! I baked cookies and biscuits, and read about half of Bossypants. It was a great night, made greater by the fact that I made biscuits that did not suck. I think Dave was also quite happy with my kitchen productivity, especially when I walked back to his office where he was enjoying a Saturday night of playing video games, with a warm, fresh-from-the-oven, heavily buttered biscuit on a little plate for him to “taste test.”

Sometimes I wonder why the man married me and voluntarily agreed to put up with my nonsense for the rest of his life, and then other times I randomly bring him a warm, buttery biscuit snack, and it sort of makes sense.

I started with the most basic of recipes: that found on the back of the White Lily all-purpose flour bag. They turned out just fine. See?

(nom nom tasty)

Biscuits (a la White Lily)

2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup cold Crisco shortening

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 500. Either spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or set out your cookie sheet & silpat. (I heart my silpat.) In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt & baking powder. Cut in the shortening. Recommended methods: two knives or a pastry cutter (according to the bag); I found that mashing it all together with a fork worked better. You’re looking for a pea-ish consistency. Makes no sense to me either. Just go with it until it looks combined. Stir in, with a fork, up to 3/4 cup milk, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it 2-3 times. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, either, so I just kind of manhandled the dough until it looked “about right.” By that, I mean the dough was of appropriate consistency to be able to roll it out with my rolling pin. And that’s the next step: roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/2″ thickness. Cut into 2″ rounds (I used a wine glass. figures.), then place on the prepared baking sheet. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.

My assessment: a not so bad first attempt. They were ginormously huge – almost too big, if you ask me. I think next time I’ll try for about half the thickness. I was super impressed with the amount of rise/lift these little babies got in the oven, though.

My next attempt will be Libba Woodruff’s easy-peasy biscuits involving only two ingredients. Then some involving shortening and butter. Then maybe I’ll expand into yeasty biscuits. Then, eventually, I’ll have it down pat. And y’all can all come over for breakfast or fried chicken night. But first, I have to also figure out how to make fried chicken… another thing I’ve never attempted at home. Let’s hope I don’t burn down the kitchen with that one.

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