“Times were hard but the biscuits were tender.”
My dad was raised in the country and my mom was raised in the city.
Dad liked fresh vegetables and homemade baked goods. Mom liked quick and easy, especially when it came to desserts. In fact, I cannot remember my mother baking any sweets at all. We always bought cakes and pies from the bakery, except for the occasional times when I whipped up a box cake.
Dad, however, liked to make biscuits from scratch. On Sunday mornings, he would bake a batch of drop biscuits. I think he made drop biscuits because Mom didn’t own a rolling pin. Those Sunday mornings were divine when Dad baked his biscuits. The aroma of freshly baked biscuits wafting through the house brings back many fond memories. Paired with apple or grape jelly, the biscuits of my childhood were pure wholesome goodness.
When I grew up and had a family of my own, I knew that I would make homemade biscuits. I began to cook a bit differently than my mother, and developed my own style. Nutrition and finances were motivators. I liked fresh better than convenience and I also liked to bake, sometimes from scratch and sometimes from semi-scratch.
Semi-homemade biscuits found their way to my menu. Pioneer Baking Mix was my favorite because it was cheaper and tasted better than Bisquick, the national brand. The biscuits became a family favorite. And I, like my dad, would most often prepare them on Sunday mornings.
The first time my brother in-law tasted them, he was impressed. They were hot from the oven, tender and fresh. I think he enjoyed them because he, my husband, and the rest of their clan had been raised on canned biscuits, which they ate on Sunday evenings. At this point, I must confess that my husband has always preferred Pillsbury Flaky biscuits from the can. This preference is probably a left over sentiment from his childhood much as drop biscuits stir emotion in me.
I think canned biscuits taste fake. However, they are hard to beat in the flaky department and pulling the layers apart can be fun. Another plus? They are good, especially when I am lazy.
Which brings me to the point of why I am telling you all of this. For many years, I baked biscuits the Pioneer way. Then I began experimenting from scratch with different recipes and different types of flour – white and wheat.
One day I was blessed by my cousin, Mary Ann. She sent me a treasure from my past, an electronic version of the NOPSI cookbook. It includes many old New Orleans recipes and I just love it! Lo and behold, I found a recipe for biscuit mix. It is simple to make, stores well, and makes enough for 4 batches of biscuits.
It comes in very handy when you’re lazy. It’s a not-much-fuss way to treat your family to homemade biscuits.
Homemade Biscuit Mix
- 8 cups of sifted flour
- 4 teaspoons of salt
- 1/4 cup of baking powder
- 1 cup shortening
Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in covered container. Yield: 2 quarts or enough for 4 recipes of biscuits.
How to make the biscuits:
To make rolled biscuits: Gradually add 2/3 cup milk to 2 cups biscuit mix to form a soft ball. Knead 1/2 minute on lightly floured board. Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with floured biscuit cutter. Bake on ungreased baking sheet in 450° F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Yield:12 biscuits.