Last week I wrote a post about visiting with my great-grandparents, and my mother said something in the comments that I couldn’t shake -
Her biscuits were as good as cookies.
Now THAT is a biscuit I’d like to try. I called my mom, but of course no recipe exists. The only thing I could get out of her was that Cuma used lard and that she had a big bowl of flour. I’m not even sure those two things were related, but whatever. I googled and found a recipe for southern biscuits that included lard, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
What I needed: Lard, Flour, Baking Powder, Milk (I went for buttermilk because it seems like something a country person would do) and salt. Here’s the recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup lard or shortening
2/3 cup milk
I gathered all of the ingredients, pulled out a bowl, and grabbed my computer so I could read what to do first. Immediately, things went awry.
Preheat oven 450 degrees. Make sure the rack is in the center.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Cut in lard til it all resembles small peas.
Pepper?? Where does the list of ingredients mention pepper? I consulted JD who said just to leave it out, then I called my mom and she seconded the opinion, but it unnerved me. How could I trust anything this person had to say?
It flustered me so much I forgot everything and just dumped all of the ingredients into the bowl.
Yes, I stopped to take a picture of the milk, but not to actually READ the recipe, because if I had, I’d have known that the milk goes in much later. Oh well.
Using the same, no-reading strategy as above, I also dumped the lard into the bowl. Thankfully I realized that looked a little odd, so I pulled it back out and began to s-l-o-w-l-y cut it into the mix.
Then I began to use a whisk and a fork to work all the ingredients together. I realized something in the midst of this – good cooking takes patience. Even though I had no where to be, and no one was waiting on breakfast, I kept trying to rush through this part. I can see where this would be a good activity for a mother/daughter to do together. A pair could really bond over the mixing bowls. Moon and I would probably go insane, but some other mother/daughter pair ought to try it.
Anyway, my mixture looked dry so I called my mom and she said to add a little more milk, and then it looked wet and she said to add a little more flour. Then it looked dry again. That went on for approximately 108 minutes, until finally, I got something that resembled dough.
Now it was time to knead. My mother was on my phone’s speaker by this point and she said I had to get air into the dough. I pointed out that I could handle this part, thank you very much, because I had taken several pottery classes and was familiar with kneading clay. And she pointed out that you knead clay to get the air OUT and I realized that I know nothing.
So after kneading the dough 4 times, per the recipe, I used a roller to make it thin.
Then I used a glass out of the pantry to cut the biscuits out of the dough. This is the one thing I remember my mom doing. I think I got the size of the glass just right!
Next I put them on an ungreased sheet, on the middle rack, and cooked them for 12 minutes.
Spoiler alert: They weren’t better than cookies.
They were thin and dense, and no amount of butter or jelly could save them.
Moon tried a bite and immediately drank an entire glass of chocolate milk to get the taste out of her mouth.
JD might have chipped a tooth.
Moron Test Kitchen grade – D. Yes, I read the recipe wrong, but it was still too hard for the average moron. I’m going to try again using self-rising flour, which according to my mother, is a suitable substitute for all-purpose/baking powder. If I do that, and put the ingredients in the right order, I’ll get a much better biscuit.
Still, it makes you wonder. Just how bad were Cuma’s cookies?