Today is Sunday, and usually on Sunday morning I cook either pancakes or French toast. Today I felt more like French toast, but I didn’t have enough bread. Since I really didn’t want pancakes, I decided on scrabbled eggs and biscuits. Yum! Of course, I had to take a picture of the biscuits just so I could share with all of you.
Now, before I get into the recipe, I thought you might be interested in knowing a few little tidbits about bisuits. They are quite interesting, and the type I’m talking about are rather unique to the United States. Now, there are biscuits around the world and have been for centuries, but in most places if you order a biscuit, you’re not going to get a fluffy, buttery, warm bread-like lump smothered in gravy. In a lot of places, such as Canada and Europe, you’re going to get something much more like a cookie – a hard cookie, much like what we in the United States would call a wafer (i.e. vanilla wafer, chocolate wafer, etc.). In some countries you might get something similar to your grandma’s buttermilk or baking powder biscuits, but they won’t be so close that you would confuse the two. It would probably be a bit more cake-like.
Here’s a bit more information from Wikipedia about biscuits: “The biscuit emerged as a distinct food type in the early 19th century, before the American Civil War. Cooks created a cheap to produce addition for their meals that required no yeast, which was expensive and difficult to store. With no leavening agents except the bitter-tasting pearlash available, beaten biscuits were laboriously beaten and folded to incorporate air into the dough which expanded when heated in the oven causing the biscuit to rise. In eating, the advantage of the biscuit over a slice of bread was that as it was harder, and hence when wiping up gravy it kept its shape and form, creating the popular meal biscuits and gravy.” (All the blue font will link back to a Wikipedia article. This paragraph was copied from the article titled “Biscuits (bread).”)
Well, now that I’ve bored you with some biscuit-lore, I suppose I will give you my little recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits, courtesy of the Better Home and Gardens Quick Breads Cook Book from 1975, page 49.
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 tbsp. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. salt*
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
*If using self-rising flour, do not add the baking powder or salt.
In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in dry mixture; add milk all at once. Stir with a fork just till dough is clings together. Knead gently on lightly floured surface (10-12 strokes). Roll or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter; dip cutter into flour between cuts. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 450-degrees till golden, about 12 minutes. Makes 10.