Tam dug into his pocket and pulled out a biscuit. Isla stared at the food. She had tasted many types of biscuits in her life, but even the worst tasting ones filled an empty stomach. Her mouth watered. She rubbed the top of her legs and realised her hands trembled; they craved to hold the food. ~ Shadows in the Stone
Biscuits have been around for centuries in one form or another. I don’t remember a time when I never ate biscuits—not the store-bought type though I’m certain I must have eaten a few of those over the decades, too. I’m talking about the biscuits my mother whipped-up at short notice to complement corned-beef and cabbage or some other type of supper.
I’m not sure where Mom got the recipe; it’s been in our family for at least five decades, probably longer. I started making biscuits on my own many years ago, and now my children enjoy them hot out of the oven with jam, butter, molasses or cheese whiz melting over the sides.
Below is my recipe for biscuits. For this exercise, I’ll call them Fantasy Biscuits. You don’t need a lot of ingredients and some things can be substituted. Margarine can be replaced with butter; whole milk can be replaced with goats milk, 2% cow’s milk or blend. Instead of using three cups of flour, you could use 2 1/2 cups and add a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour. The sprinkle of salt is just that: I take the salt shaker and tap it to make a little fall, but that’s all. Some might call this a pinch. I prefer sea salt, but regular table salt will do.
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 fresh egg
3/4 cup whole milk
3 cups unbleached flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Sprinkle of salt
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, stir the butter until it’s smooth, then add the sugar and blend them together.
Measure out the milk and add the egg into the same cup. Put this aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir this to mix the ingredients together. Then dump it into the butter and sugar mixture. A wooden spoon is great for chopping the dry ingredients into the moist ones.
When you reach the lumpy stage, add the egg and milk concoction. You’ll only be able to partially mix this together with the wooden spoon. When it becomes too difficult, dump the lumpy dough onto a floured surface. With your hands, mould and knead the dough for about five minutes. It will be smooth, easy to roll and stay together.
Roll the dough flat. If you want thick biscuits, roll the dough until it’s one and a quarter inch thick. If you want thinner biscuits roll the dough thinner. For cutting out the biscuits, I use the top of a drinking glass, but if you have a tool such as a round cookie cutter, you can use that.
Place the cut-out dough on an ungreased pan. It’s okay if the sides touch, in fact, mine always do. It’s better to squish them in so when they rise, they rise up, not out. I use a round, nine-inch ceramic dish which doubles as a cake pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. My current oven bakes quicker than others I’ve had so you might need to add five minutes to this time.
Note: My mother never owned fancy tools for baking, but everyone bragged about her food; she always used a down-turned drinking glass to cut her biscuits, and so do I. There’s no need for special equipment, particularly if you were making these on the trail, over a fire. Why carry more than you need when one thing will do two or more jobs. I’ve also used a thick glass as a rolling pin when I had nothing else. Enjoy.
…Bread may feed my body, but my horse feeds my soul. ~ Author Unknown