Mother made twenty-seven biscuits for breakfast every morning. The number wasn’t intentional; that was just how it worked out. Her recipe wasn’t measured, just experience. She started out by hollowing out a hole in the flour in her big biscuit-making bowl into which she plopped out shortening scooped by hand straight from the eight pound can and poured in an indeterminate pool of fresh cow milk. Bravely plunging her right hand in, she squished the glob of shortening through her fingers, working it round till it gathered just enough flour. She worked the dough carefully, never using all the flour, thereby letting the gooey mixture adhere to the bottom of the bowl. I thought that looked horrible and never mastered the age-old biscuit making technique that had probably come to her through many generations.
Once she was satisfied with her mix, she tossed it a time or two to coat with flour, and started pinching off biscuits, which she gave a quick roll or two in her hands before placing smooth side up on her biscuit pan. Finally, she buttered the top of each so they’d brown nicely and popped them in the hot oven. About twenty minutes later, biscuits! She always ended up with twenty-seven, though she never measured. They were wonderful. The flour-filled biscuit-bowl was covered and went back into the cabinet till the next baking, which would be supper if she didn’t make cornbread.
I am a biscuit-making coward. I measure and mix my ingredients in a bowl, dust them with a handful of flour, then pinch them off and roll them out in my hands. I spray them with cooking spray rather than dipping a spoon in melted butter to butter the tops, but they are still pretty good.
Age-Old Biscuit Recipe
(Can be easily doubled or tripled)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2 ½ cups self-rising flour (For plain, add 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt PER cup)
½ cup vegetable shortening or softened butter
¾ cup milk (I prefer undiluted fat-free evaporated canned milk. Note: this is not the sweetened condensed kind that goes in desserts)
Mix 2 ¼ cups self-rising flour with shortening or butter. Stir in up to ¾ cups milk to make gooey, not drippy dough. Should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Use remaining ¼ cup to dust top of dough, turn dust again. Pinch out small handful, about ½ cup and roll a time or two in your floured palms. Turn best side up on greased baking pan. Spray tops with vegetable or butter spray to enhance browning. Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes on center rack. Done when tops are starting to brown nicely and browning can be seen around edges. Should yield 8-10 biscuits.
These can be rolled out on lightly floured surface and cut with a biscuit cutter if you prefer. Don’t waste leftover dough. Roll into strips, butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for five minutes. Wonderful treat. I have made entire batch into cinnamon sugar strips for a treat. Watch carefully to keep from burning.
If you can stand the health risk, put your bacon in to bake on at the same time as your biscuits. It will all come out perfect at the same time.