The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Old Fashion Butter Milk Biscuits

katlyn's picture
katlyn

Old Fashion Butter Milk Biscuits

I was checking out the Biscuit recipes on the Fresh Loaf and I too am searching for the Biscuit Recipe for picture #2.  The # 2 picture looks exactly like what my Mother made and I can promise you it did NOT have yeast in the recipe and was not made with SELF-RISING flour. This was her Mother's recipe. I know this because I made them when I was 16 years old.  My Mother taught me how to make them, but after I graduated, went off to college, graduated,married and many busy years later I tried to make them and it was really awful.  Mothers biscuits were exactlly as picture #2 .  Just looking at those biscuits brought back memories of cold winter mornings, and a big platter of those biscuits, sausage or bacon, and cream gravy.  I have her recipe, and it is well over 150 years old, but for the life of me I can not duplicate those wonderful biscuits.  Her Mother was from Georgia, 1800.  So they used Lard and regular Flour.  Please, if anyone has any ideas I would appreciate all help. 

Thank You,

Katlyn

PeterinVT's picture
PeterinVT

The recipe I've used was from the Calumet Baking Powder can and I tweaked it a bit to use Buttermilk.  This is how my current recipe reads.  It can be cut to one third if you want to make a small batch, but be careful about over-working the dough:


Biscuits

Portion 2oz flour by volume per person. This recipe will make about 48 small biscuits. Easier in large batches.

6 Cups (2#) AP Flour
1 TBS Salt
10 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/2 C Butter (Ideally partially frozen and run through a cheese grater into the flour, dip butter into flour often to prevent clogging.)

2 1/2 C Whole Milk or Buttermilk

Cut cold butter into the dry ingredients by hand using a pastry cutter. When it has the appearance something like cornmeal and clumps when squeezed, it's ready.  (I mix by hand-- aways.)

Pour in the milk and stir briefly until ingredients are barely combined. Let rest for 3-5 minutes then turn out onto a work table and fold into a soft but dry dough. Let rest again. Roll out to 3/4". Cut using either a  a white wine glass or a 2" cutter. Arrange onto a sheet pan spaced 1/4" apart(about 88 to a sheet pan).  I squeeze each biscut so it is about 1 3/4" dia by 1 1/2" high.  Bake at 400º for 12-15 minutes until a deep marshmallowy brown. 

Everything in this recipe is technique. Start with cool to cold ingredients and avoid over-working the dough. 1/4" Spacing is critical while baking so that the biscuits first get enough heat to rise properly then grow into each other so they do not collapse as they cool. The dough should be mixed mostly by folding, rather than stirring, to create layers of flakeyness. In warm weather, refrigerate the flour before starting.   Serve the biscuits still clumped together if possible to keep them hot.
===
My recipe used to use powdered milk and slightly more butter.  I've also used Crisco for the fat which makes a somewhat flakier biscuit, but now I prefer butter for flavor and less trans fats.  Avoid Baking Powders with aluminum(such as Calumet)  since this can be tasted.  I use Rumford Brand.   The ideal biscuit will separate into three layers when you pull it apart.

katlyn's picture
katlyn

Thank you for your recipe.  My mothers recipe calls for lard or veg solid shortening.  The texture is not coarse, or crumbly it is more like a sponge- like consistency inside and crusty on the out side.  The batter is very thin.  Her recipe is: 2 c all purpose flour, lard or shortening (lard or shortening was not cold) the "size of a walnut" 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon soda, salt, and 1 cup thick Buttermilk and 1/2 c water.  Stir until all ingredients are combined, turn on to floured surface and kneed a couple of times then cut with biscuit cutter . Place in a pan with enough shortening in bottom to turn biscuits one time to coat tops.  Pop into 450 degree oven for 15-18 minutes.

This is a very thin dough and I'm wondering if she beat this dough.  I have memories of her beating the daylights out of something in a bowl and now after 10 lbs of flour, and 3 qts of buttermilk and an increase of l0 lbs in body weight I'm wondering if that is the missing key?  I guess that will be my next attempt.

FoodHacker's picture
FoodHacker

Would you care to post it here?

I'm sure someone here would be able to help you figure out what went wrong.

Also given your grandmother was from Georgia there is a strong chance that she would have used White Lily flour, which is a very soft flour and makes excellent biscuits.

 

BTW are you positve that it wasn't self rising?

Because I remember growing up and my mom used self rising flour ... and they were very good biscuits.

jannrn's picture
jannrn

My Mom is from SC and ALSO always uses Self Rising Flour! I think she uses Martha White as well.....worth a try!

Jann

katlyn's picture
katlyn

Thank you for your post.  Her flour was not self rising and these were not yeast biscuits nor did she use self-rising flour. 

 This is her recipe:  2 c all purpose flour, lard or shortening the "size of a walnut" , 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of soda, 1 cup  thick buttermilk, 1/2 c water. With fingers or spoon mash or stir until all ingrediants are combined completely.  Turn out on floured surfacd, knead a couple of times pat to 1 1-2 inches thick.  Cut out with biscuit cutter, or glass or cup and place in a pan with enough shortening or bacon drippings that the biscuit can be turned over one time to coat the top.Place biscuits with sides touching so they will rise higher. Pop into pre heated oven of 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

    I'm told White Lily can not be purchased for Smuckers bought out White Lily.  However, I have found an article re: flour and % of Protein.  Cake flour (Swans Down, and Softasilk) and Bleached Southern All Purpose (White Lily, Martha White, Gladiola and Red Band) all have the same amt of protein 7.5-8.5%  which is best for biscuits and quick breads.

 The protein flours of 9% to 11% are best for yeast recipes.  I am using Gladiola( I changed from Gold Metal to Gladiola when I saw this article) for Gold Metal had 10-12% Protein.  

All of these biscuit receipes have almost the same ingrediants, except for the dough being so thin you can barely pick it up, so I'm thinking its the technique.  There is a reason for this dough to be so thin.I'm wondering if she beat this dough, like whipping it.  I have memories of my mother beating the daylights out of something in a bowl and me thinking my mother is really strong!  I'm wondering if that was the reason for the dough to be so thin.  This is not the same as "beaten dough" which is like hard tac.  These biscuits were tall, fluffy sponge-like texture on the inside and crusty brown on the outside. we always fought over who was going to get the outside biscuits, particularly the corner buscuits.  The # 2 picture showing the difference between "Southern Biscuits" is exactly like my mothers biscuits. These are not oil or yeast biscuits.  I have tried contacting the person that posted the pics (she is looking for an answer just like myself) but she posted  those pics 2 years ago so I may not hear from her. I wanted to ask where she got the picture.  My daughters, and granddaughters are all trying to make mothers biscuits and so far no results.

Any ideas???  All will be appreciated,

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Given your list of ingredients, I believe there is nothing your mother could have done in the way of beating to make that a biscuit dough. So thinking you can fix this batter by beating it is going in the wrong direction. I'd work more on adjusting the ingredients -- particularly the ratio of wet to dry -- to make an appropriate biscuit dough. What you have seems to me to be more like the consistency of pancake batter. A quick scan of a few online biscuit recipes finds that they should be around a 66% hydration. Yours is nearly 100%.

I wonder if your mother could have been making pancakes. Then she would have been beating egg whites to add to that batter. Do you think that is a possibility?

Another aspect to consider might be the "thick buttermilk." If your mom was using buttermilk from a farm, or her own cow, or farm-fresh buttermilk from her local store, that's really different from the cultured buttermilk available in the grocery stores these days. Just a thought.

You don't need self-rising flour with both soda and baking powder in your recipe. Self-rising flour is simply soft AP flour with baking powder and salt already added.

(Please note you have omitted some of your recipe the second time you posted it. You might want to edit that to the correct recipe, just to keep the thread straight.)

katlyn's picture
katlyn

Thank You for your reply.  I appreciate your comments.   My Dad was a Diabetic so she never made Pancakes.  I made these biscuits when I was 16 yrs. old and somehow I'm missing the technique.  I cut back on the liquid using only 1 cup of Buttermilk, no water, and I did get a biscuit.  A course crumb, heavy Biscuit and that was not her biscuit.  The closest I have been able to come is the Loveless Biscuit from the Cafe in Nashville,Tenn.  ......and I'm told that recipe is a secret.

Mother did not like self-rising flour.  I don't know why. I asked her one time and she told me she tried it, and didn't like it.  Self-rising flour was never a staple in her pantry. 

Thank You for all you help, I will keep trying.  Unfortunately I am the only one left to figure out this recipe.

PeterinVT's picture
PeterinVT

Southern Biscuits tend to be "drop" biscuits instead of cut biscuits, so are not flaky.  They are essentially a small scone, which uses a muffin recipe with less liquid.  There is very little fat in your recipe.  It may help to melt the fat then add in room temp buttermilk and pour into the dry ingredients.  Resting the mix will help to tighten it up if it has a high hydration ratio.  Overmixing will result in a very tough end product.

katlyn's picture
katlyn

I will try melting the the shortening and adding it, also room temp Buttermilk.  Now that you mention resting the biscuits, seems like I remember the cut out biscuits in the pan resting on the counter while she cooked the meat for Breakfast.  I will try that.   Thank You   I will let you know . 

Susan Kline's picture
Susan Kline

My sister was on a quest for the perfect biscuit and it seems that the deep south uses a different flour than the north.  While driving from Virginia to Florida, we stopped in North or South Carolina and found the flour in a grocery store.  I wish I could remember the name of the flour or what the difference is but I can't.  We must have some southern bakers on here though who would be happy to tell you.  I don't remember if it was self-rising or not.  The biscuits were delicious, so I do remember something!

katlyn's picture
katlyn

It was probably White Lily, that was the flour of choice  or Bleached All Purpose Southern Gladiola or Martha White, but White Lily was the choice.

Foamheart's picture
Foamheart

I use my great grandmother's biscuit recipe. Which I don't think has ever been written down. Let me give you something to try. Forget the lard/shortening/butter. Fry some bacon before you make the biscuits (most granny's had a grease jar). Pour the rendered fat in the the biscuit pan. Then as you insert your biscuits in the pan, dedge 'em in the "oil" and flip 'em over so both side get it. You could use lard or shortening I guess. I always put the grease in the pan, the pan in the oven and turn it on to heat while I make the biscuits.

I was told she never added any lard/butter/shortening to the biscuit except on the outside. Make's 'em brown nice, adds flavor, and is really easy (since she had 8 kids and bisquits every morning I can respect that).

Biscuits are just buttermilk, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, (baking powder rises, baking soda stablizes, usually a 4 to 1 ratio) Some add bit of sugar, some add a touch of honey. Remember the less you work 'em the more tender the biscuit. I never kneed, I work the dough with a wooden spoon gently till the buttermilk incorporates with the flour, Then turn out and with my hand flatten to the biscuit thickness before cutting.

My granny was a Farm wife also, the reason she had no self rising flour, AP was more versitle and when ya only get one big sack, you do versitle.

Hope it works for you.

katlyn's picture
katlyn

Thank you for this recipe!!  Are you saying she did not put any lard or shortening, in the biscuit dough itself?   If this is what you are saying, that maybe the reason my Mother stated to use shortening size of a "walnut" which is almost nothing.  She did the same as  your granny in using bacon or sausage drippings in the baking pan to turn the biscuits so they would be coated on both sides.  Maybe this is the answer.  Please let me know if I understand about the shortening.

Thank You so much, I look forward to  your answer.

Foamheart's picture
Foamheart

No lard/butter/shortening in the biscuit.  Try a small pan and see. I must appoligize for the fact I have no quanties, I have never measured anything making buscuits, they are nothing like  bread. Buscuits just always work.

I sometimes cut some butter into the dry ingrediants before mixing in the wet, but its not how the Ladies of the family made them.

katlyn's picture
katlyn

I am going to try these tomorrow morning and I will let you know.  I understand about not measuring.  My Mother never measured anything and that is why some of us are having such a problem with some of her recipes.  I aked her several years before her death if she would write a cookbook for her children and she did......and what a cookbook it is.  I can make anything in that book, except the Biscuits.   I especially like that it is all hand written and uses the vernacular of the Southern, Texas women. Reading her recipes brings me right back to our kitchen where she would be giving us a cooking lesson on whatever she was cooking for the day, including my Brothers who are good cooks,by the way. Some of  her words have to be defined, but her children knew what she meant.  What a treasure we had in our Mom!!  Just wish I had paid more attention to the Biscuit Lessons.

katlyn's picture
katlyn

I'm amazed!!  I have to admit I was very skeptical!!.  THIS is my Mothers recipe.  I made yours and then I made Mothers with the walnut size shortening and they were almost identical.  Mother's were a little taller, but the taste and texture was identical.  I can't thank you enough for your ideas and taking the time to post them.  I now have the recipe to pass on to my children.  I can't begin to tell you how much this means to me.  I didn't want this recipe to fade away when it meant so much to our family.    I am so glad I found this forum and ultimately YOU and your Greatgrandmother.  

A very sincere THANK YOU!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I am envious of both of you.  *smile*  You are so lucky to have had mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers to pass on to you their recipes for good food.  My mother's biscuits came from a Pillsbury refrigerator tube that popped open in a spiral around the cardboard tube.  They doubled for dumplings.  Her mother's biscuit (and dumpling) recipe probably came off the back of a Bisquick box, since we had that material in the kitchen before the advent of the Pillsbury tube biscuits and never afterward.  I don't even know what my two great-grandmothers on that side did in the kitchen.  I never met them or heard anything about them.  My father's mother was dead before I was born, and all the mothers who went before her.  He certainly didn't know how to bake.  He could reconstitute condensed soup.  That was his sole accomplishment in the kitchen, so far as I could observe in my first eight years of life.  Virtually everything I know how to cook, I learned from published recipes, cooking classes, friends, and my own experiments.  It's been fun, but not personally historical.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

That's what I grew up with too, until someone gave me an Amish Friendship Bread starter and ruined me forever.

Try those Pillsburys right out of the oven dipped it syrup (maple, Aunt Jemima, or (my favorite) Steen's Cane Syrup).

Or fry them (the raw dough) in hot oil until lightly browned and then smother them with powdered sugar for a "Poor Man's Beignet".

Foamheart's picture
Foamheart

Beignets are far too easy to make, the problem is thinking a day in advance. Make 'em on Thurdays stick 'em in the cooler to rise and have 'em Saturday brunch and also again on Sunday afternoon.

To me though biscuits, cornbread, hush puppies and beignets are just normal stuff. Making Bread, now thats a real challenge.

PeterinVT's picture
PeterinVT

I hate to say it, but Bisquik is one of my favorite cheats.   It makes good pancakes and the biscuits are not bad if you use buttermilk and you have good technique.   The main prob is it's loaded with trans-fat, but now I hear they make a "Heart Smart" version that is trans-free.  I've also used it for breading fried chicken by mixing with an equal volume of crushed corn flakes. 


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I use Alton Brown's recipe for Southern Biscuits.

I transcribed the episode for Southern Biscuits, Scones, and Shortcake from his TV show, Good Eats.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/keyword/southern-biscuits-scones-shortcake-alton-brown

They are mighty tasty.

Enjoy.

katlyn's picture
katlyn

This forum has been a wonderful place for me for several reasons.  I got to walk into the kitchens of  your ancestors and especially revisit memories of my Mom, Grandmother, and GreatGrandmother kitchen's. (This recipe was originally my Great Grandmothers passed down) In doing so I remembered things and events that probably would have been lost in my memories had this Quest for My Mothers Biscuits not been taken.  I kept my family members up to date on my progress and finally the piece of the puzzle was found.  Foamheart, After reading the original recipe again last night I realized that 2 Greatgrandmothers, from a Century ago, shared the same biscuit recipe, and was discovered by two Great Grandaughters who had never met had it not been for  a BISCUIT.     I think they would be very proud of us.

Foamheart, I think this is just wonderfully awesome!!!

Foamheart's picture
Foamheart

LOL..... My mother passed away three years ago and I spent the better part of 6 months transcribing and testing and have now a compiled database of all her recipes. I have them in a standardized software and can burn copies for family members (Well of course I still have that massive recipe box with all the recipes and napkins and pieces of paper with jiberish on them too). But..... And, it was not my Mother's biscuit recipe, my Dad made the biscuits and cornbread. To learn you had to stand and watch, if you got up early enough...LOL

Mom, two years before she died, she gave my sister, and neices, and her great grandchildren each a recipe box and put only 10 of her most favorite recipes in each one. Did I forget to mention that each box has different recipes? So what one didn't get another did, but you have to call and visit to see who has what.

Ya know they are smart enough as mothers, but by the time they get to be great grandmothers they can dazzle you with their wisdom.

Katlyn, I am glad it worked out for you.