There are times when baking powder biscuits are necessary. Sausage gravy, for instance, is best with light, tender homemade biscuits hot from the oven.
Unfortunately, mine were neither light nor tender. Though some family members have disagreed, I still think that my biscuits were edible when hot from the oven and covered with gravy or spread generously with butter and jam. And once they had cooled, they could be used for coasters, hockey pucks or skeet practice.
It took courage to make them; every few months I would try, with no noticeable improvement. Instead of floating down on the plate, they dropped, like ceramic coasters, with an annoying clinking sound. And it took courage to eat them; my victims/guests would ask for extra gravy or more jam.
A few weeks after I mentioned the problem to my sister Patsy, who is an excellent cook, I received the following email:
“Just thought I’d pass on this recipe for biscuits. It is from my Betty Crocker Cookbook and is my favorite for buttermilk biscuits. They always turn out well for me. Give them a try sometime.”
And so I did, and they were at least 10 times better than any earlier effort. Here is the recipe.
2 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk
Heat the oven to 400 F. Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening as you would for pie crust until it looks like cornmeal, and then add the buttermilk. Add more buttermilk if it looks too dry. Knead on a floured board about 20 times, just until the dough seems dry enough to roll out.
Roll about a half inch thick and cut with a glass or biscuit cutter. Bake the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes or so until lightly browned.
NOTES: Don’t knead the dough too long or the biscuits will be tough. Roll the dough so it is at least a half inch thick. A little thicker is better than too thin.