I had never made southern buttermilk biscuits before. Northerners, (or Yankees) like myself, didn’t make biscuits very often. In the Pittsburgh area where I was born and raised, people made a variety of homemade breads. Growing up in an Italian household, we made homemade breads, cookies, and pasta. But we never made biscuits. Now that I have lived in Virginia for 5 years I thought it was time this Yankee learned to make some good ole Southern Buttermilk Biscuits.
Louise, one of our employees & right hand lady, volunteered to teach me biscuit making as she learned from her grandmother. Shirley, another employee and my other right hand lady, volunteered to assist so she could incorporate her knowledge of biscuit making too.
Louise started dumping flour into the bowl. I asked her how much and she replied “all about this much” pointing to the bowl. As Louise continued to add the ingredients, Shirley estimated the measurements and I jotted down the recipe. Louise kneaded & rolled out the dough. We made 2 batches, one made by a Southerner (Louise) and the other made by a Yankee (your innkeeper, Melissa). We brought in 2 “Taste Testers”, Ray (my husband and other innkeeper) and Lee, Ray’s right hand man. The Southerner’s biscuits got a “two thumbs up” rating, of course! There is nothing quite like “what grandma used to make”! And the Yankee got a rating of “not too bad for the first time” (as rated by the 2 Southern bakers and the Taste Testers). Since I (barely) passed the biscuit making class, Shirley will teach me to make another Southern dish, Fried Apples, at our next cooking class.
We had a great time laughing, “picking” at each other, and sharing childhood memories about helping our grandmothers and mothers in the kitchen. And we learned various baking tips from each other. The comment was they even learned something from a Yankee who had never made biscuits!
Louise’s Southern Biscuits
“All about this much flour” (4 cups self-rising flour)
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 handful scoop Crisco (1 cup)
½ cup (plus more) Buttermilk
Directions: Sift together flour, salt, & baking powder. Add handful of Crisco. Mix, working together to form the dough. Add ½ cup Buttermilk continuing to work the dough. Add buttermilk as needed, continuing to mix together. Dough should be dry and not sticky. Pat the dough out on a floured surface. Roll to even. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out pieces and place on greased baking pan. Bake 425 for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown (or as Louise’s grandmother said “Tops should be a certain color of brown to be done in the middle). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
This Southern specialty is best enjoyed while still warm from the oven and served with butter and jelly or jam. They are a great accompaniment with almost any food and can be used for small Virginia ham sandwiches. My Pittsburgh area Italian family may know how to make great pizzelles, but they can learn a thing or two about making great Southern Buttermilk Biscuits.
Stay with us at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and you can be a taste tester of this southern specialty.
Your Innkeeper, Melissa