This is a cautionary tale. My great grandmother, Tiny Margaret Keech, was famous for her biscuits. She had 9 children and a very busy household but always managed to whip up a fresh batch daily. Although Grandma Tiny passed away before I was born I have heard many of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my own mother gush about the wonder of her biscuits. They were by all accounts magical.
I have grilled all available family members and they have sorrowfully admitted that they don’t have Grandma Tiny’s recipe and that they wish they did. No one else ever really helped her make them because she was so fast at whipping them up by herself.
One day I cornered my grandmother (Tiny’s daughter Alice) and asked her to remember everything she could about Grandma Tiny’s biscuits. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and patiently began to describe how without measuring my great-grandmother’s work-worn hands would nimbly combine the ingredients into a wooden bread bowl . After a brief knead she would pinch off equal pieces of dough, roll them between her palms into a ball, then put them in the pan where her final touch was to press them slightly flat. Each hand-made biscuit bore the proof of her work with the indentation of her fingerprints.
Unfortunately I didn’t ever find the exact recipe that Grandma Tiny used and I use a biscuit cutter instead of rolling the dough into balls. However, I have had a couple of family members generously profess that my biscuits remind them of the ones she made.
Whenever I teach this recipe I try to remind anyone that will listen to spend a little more time in the kitchen with those they love. Ask questions, learn the recipes that have special memories, and most importantly WRITE THE RECIPES DOWN!
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- ¼ cup cold butter
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 TBSP cider vinegar
- Place flour in a bowl, coarsely grate in butter and stir to mix.
- Combine cream and vinegar, stir with a fork then add to flour mixture and continue stirring until blended. Dough will be stiff.
- Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 to 12 times, until dough is smooth, do the rough cut folds and rolling as demonstrated to create layers.
- Roll dough to ½” thickness and cut with a 2” biscuit cutter.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes.
Always be sure to check the date on your self-rising flour. If it is expired your biscuts won't rise.
If you don't have self-rising flour you can make your own by whisking together: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.
Do not knead any more than necessary or your biscuits with be tough.
If you can find whole fat buttermilk it can be substituted for the vinegar and cream- since I usually can only find low fat I prefer using the cream and vinegar.