Southern Biscuits

May 5th, 2014

Southern Biscuits 3

So much of what  Southern cooking is about is how its women were able to provide filling and nutritious meals for their families.  When I think about the Southern table I think about the history of putting food by; women sitting on their porches shelling butter beans, the steaming pots of water waiting on the stove for those ball jars full of strawberry jam ready to be sterilized and the rendered lard waiting to be mixed with flour and buttermilk for the morning biscuits.  And if there were leftover biscuits, they would be used as a topping for that old stewing hen.

Southern Biscuits 2V

We have come a long way from the times when putting food by was a necessity for survival, but making biscuits is still a primal instinct to me.  There is nothing like rising early in the morning, lighting the oven and mixing the simple ingredients for biscuits. I love the put-put sound of my knife as it slashes through the butter and shortening cubes in the flour.  I make a floury mess in the kitchen as I pat the dough onto a board and cut the biscuits into shape.  Traces of flour cover the refrigerator door handle as I reach for the buttermilk and my clothing is dusted in flour.  After the biscuits are in the oven, David enters the kitchen, takes one look around and says “You must be making biscuits”.

Southern Biscuits Pan 2

My biscuit making skills are still a work in progress.  A recipe that I have been using lately comes from Alton Brown.  He uses regular flour and a combination of butter and shortening and buttermilk in his biscuits.  It is a good basic recipe. Watching the Food Network a while back, I saw Sunny Anderson talk about her Grandmother’s biscuits.  Her Grandmother shared her recipe with her, but the recipe never came out the same for Sunny.  So watching her Grandmother carefully one day she noticed that her Grandmother’s flour looked different.than they flour that she used.  Her Grandmother’s flour had little yellow flakes in it.  She neglected to tell her that she used Atkinson Flour with Butterflakes.  Sunny shared her recipe here.  I also found a new flour that I used in my biscuits this time.

Southern Biscuit Pan 1

King Arthur has a Pastry Flour Blend that duplicates many of the Southern flours used by previous generations of southern cooks.  It is softer and produces lighter biscuits and scones.  It is also great for flaky pie crusts.  It is not recommended for yeast risen baked goods.  I found it easier to handle and loved the results in my biscuits.  I have yet to use it in pie crust, but am anxious to try it.

Southern Biscuits 4

My biscuits were light and tender and went well with my freezer strawberry jam.  But I just may try the Atkinson flour blend to compare the results.  I would be interested to know if any of you have a favorite biscuit recipe.


2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Printable Recipe

10 responses to “Southern Biscuits”

  1. larry says:

    There is not many things better than good hot biscuits and I’d like to have them every day. I would gladly clean up the kitchen for you to get fresh biscuits – especially topped with a little sausage gravy – then I’d weigh 500 pounds.

  2. Pondside says:

    My mum would make tea biscuits at the drop of a hat – we ate them with butter and jam, with butter and molasses, with beans , with strawberries and cream. There was nothing nicer!

  3. Lady Gourmet says:

    I love biscuits. They make a meal and bring the family to the table fast! Blsessings, Catherine

  4. Lemon Tart says:

    Your biscuits look wonderful and I love your description of the floury mess. That is so enduring to me. Since I cannot use shortening (it has soybean in it). I have been over at Ann’s at thibeaultstable (dot) com. She is an excellent bread/biscuit maker. If you check her out just type in the search box. They are beautiful.
    Oh, and I can’t wait to make strawberry freezer jam. I made it last year, but clearly not enough. I have everything but the strawberries. They will be peak in another week or two – Mother’s Day – God’s gift to Mothers.


  5. Sam Hoffer says:

    Your biscuits looks fabulous and after reading this, I know I have a lot to learn about all of the different flours. I occasionally make savory quick drop biscuits and you’re right, biscuit making makes a mess.

  6. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    Your biscuits look great. I recognize that little spoon. I never make biscuits. I will have to try this recipe.

  7. David says:

    These biscuits were really good.

  8. Mary says:

    I bought a can of breakfast biscuits this week – something I rarely do. Now I know why – I opened and baked them this morning and they are not great. I must make your recipe Penny, they look so good!

    Mary x

  9. Susan says:

    When I first started making biscuits for my family as a new homemaker, biscuits meant opening a box of Bisquick 🙂 Since then, I’ve tried many recipes and have and off-and-on again success. My latest favorite recipe is Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits. My grandsons love them and so do we.

    Your biscuits look wonderful and I am going to look into those flours! What a wonderful way to enjoy fresh, strawberry preserves.

  10. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    I don’t know of anything more tempting than a warm buttermilk biscuit with melted butter. 🙂

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.