Today I have biscuits on the brain. For a long time now I've been searching for a better biscuit but the ideal of this flaky, fluffy pastry has so far alluded me.
In Western Historical Fiction it seems that some woman, some where is popping a pan of biscuits in the over every other minute or two.
Sometimes they're drop biscuits, other times she's kept busy by rolling out the dough and cutting them into perfect rings.
There are tough biscuits, cold biscuits, cat's head biscuits, biscuits and gravy, biscuits and bacon and the list goes on and on.
Biscuits of all kinds were a quick, cheap alternative to making bread which was time consuming and required a hearty amount of physical labor.
The American biscuit, which has roots in Scotland, Ireland, and areas of England, could be whipped up in a matter of minutes popped into the oven and ready to eat by the time the bacon and eggs were on the table.
Although biscuits were a staple throughout the U.S. they are now associated with the dishes of the American South. As a Florida transplant it took me a while to learn to like the deep south favorite of biscuits and gravy but I've come to enjoy that hearty meal.
One of my maternal grandfather's favorite treats at the height of summer was the simplest form of strawberry short cake. A bit of sugar was added to the basic biscuit mix which were then dropped on a baking sheet and baked until brown before being filled with sweetened strawberries and fresh whipped cream.
What are your experiences with biscuits? Do you have a secret family recipe? Are you still seeking the perfect biscuit? Lard, butter or shortening?
In my series The Cattleman's Daughters, the youngest daughter's pastry nemesis is a pie crust, so while I'm out searching for the perfect biscuit recipe why not check out her story.
Katie walked into the kitchen feeling glum. The men and four of her sisters were out on the range winding down the round up and branding while she was stuck at home. She felt restless and irritable not being able to join them.
As she walked across the floor she was surprised to find Mae standing at the work bench next to Nona, tears sparkling in her eyes.
Hurrying to her sister’s side she gazed down at the worktable where two pies sat their bottom crusts full of dried apples, sugar, cinnamon and tiny dots of butter. Mae stood with her small hands tightly clenched into fists.
“I can’t do it Nona.” The petite girl said, eyes brimming. “They’re terrible, just look at them.”
Katie watched as her grandmother wrapped an arm around the youngest James girl.
“Just try.” She said kindly. “People don’t eat pies with their eyes, what matters is that they taste good.”
Mae sniffed but took a deep breath and lifted the rolled pie dough disk over one of the open pie tins, trimmed it and began to crimp. She was growing steadily frustrated when her grandmother placed her hands over Mae’s slim ones and guided her fingers around the edge. “Nona, you make it look so easy.” Mae moaned turning her dark brown eyes toward the matron.
“That’s because I have forty years of practice on you.” She stated kindly. “The more you practice something the easier it becomes.” (Meg 2016)
Or read Mae's story at: