Homemade Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk or buttermilk or yogurt

First get out your big bowl. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Drop in the shortening and use your fingers to casually mix it in with the dry ingredients. Don’t get too serious about it because it is better to under mix at this point than over mix. There should still be a few lumps of shortening, the size of peas, or even a little bigger. Two minutes or less of mixing should do it. Next add the milk. Stir it up into a soft dough. On dry days you may need another spoonful or two of milk. Form the dough into a soft ball. Get a piece of waxed paper and lay it on your counter. Sprinkle the waxed paper with a little bit of flour. Place the dough ball on the flour and knead it exactly 10 times. No more, no less. This activates the gluten in the flour just enough, but not too much. Next flatten out the dough with a rolling pin or your hands so it is about 3/4″ thick. Cut into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a clean cup or can. I use a tomato paste can for small biscuits and a tuna can for large biscuits. Works really well. Lay the biscuits onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and bake them at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. Makes about a dozen medium sized biscuits. You can brush them with melted margarine when you take them from the oven if you want them to look pretty when they arrive at the table.

Cheese Biscuits: These are made simply by adding a cup of cheese to the flour after you mix in the shortening, right before adding the milk. Cut into smallish biscuits and cook as directed. They are really good with spaghetti or lasagna.

Bacon Biscuits: Add 1/3 cup of soy bacon bits to the flour right after adding the shortening. Cut into small circles and bake as directed. These are good for snacks or as a quick breakfast on the go.

Drop Biscuits: Substitute melted shortening or oil for the solid shortening. Increase the milk to almost a full cup. Stir it into the flour making a sticky dough. Drop the biscuits by small spoonfuls onto an oiled cookie sheet. Bake as directed. These used to be called Emergency Biscuits, in my grandmother’s day, because they could be made in such a hurry. They still make their appearance most often when I have forgotten to plan a hot bread to go with lunch or supper.

Biscuits are one of my favorite breads. For a little change, try this whole wheat flat bread recipe.

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