A biscuit recipe is like a fingerprint in the South; everybody has their own, so no two are alike! Well, that’s not entirely true. But, Southern cooks will tell you that their biscuit recipe is the best because it’s likely been passed down for generations. The basics of a biscuit are all the same. You take a flour and add some fat and liquid. From there you can add just about anything you want to make it sweet or savory, or maybe you keep it simple and let a slice of country ham or a spoonful of jam or honey add some extra flavor. Biscuits come in all shapes and sizes and are the answer for a quick breakfast to a simple and traditional solution for dessert.
We love just about every variety of biscuit. Flaky buttery layers get us just as excited as a tender biscuit with lots of airy pockets to hold butter. And, they don’t take as long as it may seem to make. Have you ever been intimidated by the thought of making homemade biscuits and resorted to popping open a tube in the past? (Truth be told, almost all of us saw our grandmother’s do that once or twice! If you never witnessed it, look for a dent in the edge of the counter in grandma’s kitchen, cause that’s where she would bang the tube against it to get it to burst open.) Well, scratch-made biscuits really don’t take any more time to make, you just may end up with a little flour in places you never intended.
Self-rising flour is a time-saver in this two-ingredient biscuit recipe. The leavening – baking powder – is already in the flour. The cream acts both as the liquid and the fat, making these biscuits rich and flaky. And easy!
Sweet Cream Biscuits
Makes about 14 2-inch biscuits
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 10 to 14 minutes
2 cups Old Mill Self-Rising Flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Extra flour as needed for rolling
- Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Pour in nearly all the cream, and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together. If needed, add the rest of the cream to get the dough to pull together. It will be sticky.
- Sprinkle a work surface with a couple tablespoons flour, and turn the dough out onto the flour. Press with floured hands until the dough is 1-inch thick. Fold one half of the dough over the other like closing a book, then press down to 1-inch again, and cut into 2-inch rounds with a floured biscuit cutter. Press together scraps to make additional biscuits. Place biscuits about an inch apart on baking pans, and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown, from 10 to 14 minutes. Serve warm with butter.
Springtime in the mountains brings the blossoming of flowers, and it also draws our attention to a “flour” of a different sort – the one we use in the kitchen every day. March is National Flour Month, a time to explore new ways to bake with flour.
At The Old Mill General Store, you can step back to the 1800s with some old flours and explore some relatively new ones on our shelves. For example, we’ve been milling Corn Flour as long as we have been stone-grinding grits. Corn flour is the fine powdery flour that is sifted off in the process of making grits. It is perfect for folding into cornbreads, muffins, pancakes, and cookies. And it makes some of the best homemade corn dogs!
Whole Wheat Flour, also ground right in our historic mill, is the most delicious and fresh whole wheat flour you will ever taste. Wheat berries are crushed and ground into a flour perfect for muffins, like Morning Glory Muffins, as well as pancakes, cheese straws, and loaf breads. Use our whole wheat flour anytime you want a better and more nutritious substitute for white flour.
Another interesting whole wheat flour sold at the General Store is a White Whole Wheat Bread Flour. That’s right – it’s white. But it tastes and bakes like whole wheat. This special flour milled from Montana hard wheat berries is a bread flour just right for baking into loaves, dinner rolls, even pizza crust.
Also from America’s West is our medium Rye Flour, which bakes much like whole wheat flour and can be used in any baking recipe calling for whole wheat. It adds a nuttiness to recipes, and it is delicious in sweets, from cakes to chocolate chip cookies. America’s frontier cooks used to substitute rye flour when wheat wasn’t available.
Cold weather climates bring us our Buckwheat Flour, which is not a flour at all but ground from the seeds of the buckwheat plant, a cousin to rhubarb. We’ve been selling buckwheat flour and buckwheat pancake mixes to happy customers for many years, but with the rise in interest in gluten-free baking, more people are getting interested in buckwheat. Try ours, and your pancakes will have never tasted so good. You can also use buckwheat in banana bread and muffins, substituting buckwheat for half of the white flour.
Without a doubt, the Southern flour that has the deepest history in our region is Self-Rising Flour. It’s a staple in kitchens throughout the South, where in the early 1900s it became the flour that made the best, most reliable, biscuits. The secret is a soft winter wheat flour that is lower in gluten (protein) than other flours, and the baking powder and salt are mixed right into the flour. There’s no measuring of leavening, and that’s a time-saver we can appreciate today. Try it in your biscuits, cornbread, pancakes, and cakes.
Here is a recipe for a perfect morning muffin called the Morning Glory Muffin. We make it with our freshly-milled Whole Wheat Flour, and it’s just the way to salute National Flour Month.
Morning Glory Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Prep: 10 to 15 minutes
Bake: 18 to 23 minutes
1/2 cup raisins, softened in hot water
2 cups Old Mill Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated peeled carrots
1 apple, peeled and grated
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a muffin pan with 12 wells. Soak the raisins in hot water to cover and set aside.
- Place the flour, brown sugar, soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the carrots, apple, coconut, and pecans. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, oil, orange juice, and vanilla. Stir the ingredients together until just mixed.
- Spray the muffin pan with vegetable oil spray or line with paper liners. Scoop batter into the pan, filling each well nearly to the top. The batter will fill 12 to 14 wells. Place the pan in the oven, and bake until the muffins brown and are just firm on top, 18 to 23 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
2 cups OLD MILL BISCUIT MIX
1 cup Buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine Old Mill Biscuit Mix and buttermilk (we use full-fat buttermilk) in a large bowl; mix with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. Your dough will be very wet and sticky, so turn out onto a liberally floured surface; fold in edges to center and repeat 3 times. Pat out or roll out to 1 1/2-inch thickness; cut out with biscuit cutter. Reroll scraps and cut out remaining biscuits. Be careful to not overwork the dough or your biscuits will be tough. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.