Sweet Cream Biscuits

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

Ingredients:

2 cups Old Mill Self-Rising Flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Extra flour as needed for rolling

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

March is National Flour Month at The Old Mill

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 FlourThat’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 Flourwhich 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 FlourIt’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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Everything is Coming up Cherries at The Old Mill in February

George Washington’s birthday, the cherry tree, and National Cherry Month are good excuses to bake up an Old-Fashioned Cherry Crumble from The Old Mill. What’s a crumble? Sort of a crisp, except with bigger, crunchier, more crumbly pieces of oat and brown sugar topping. And underneath? Cherries and sugar cooked down to sweet, delicious goodness.

While fresh cherries aren’t in season in February, you can buy them canned or frozen to create this easy dessert. To kick up the fresh cherry flavor, add a quarter cup of dried cherries. It’s a winter pie-baking trick borrowed from the pages of early frontier cooking. Smoky Mountain cooks dried local apples slices and then used the fruit in baking throughout the year. Dried fruit, whether cherries, apples, or peaches, has a powerful flavor, and dried cherries add intensity to this recipe.

It’s the easiest pie on earth – no crust – just a crumbly, crunchy, heavenly mixture of brown sugar, butter, oats and cinnamon on top of the sweet-yet-tart cherries underneath. Serve warm in bowls with vanilla ice cream.

The Old Mill is so crazy about cherries, we are sampling Chocolate Moonshine Cherries the whole month of February at our Distillery. They’re a perfect Valentine’s Day gift! In the Farmhouse, Liz has been baking up fresh Cherry Handpies and we are sampling out a variety of cherry dips,  cherry cobbler in a jar, and even cherry Sweet Fire Pickles. In the Old Mill Restaurant, we’re offering our Chocolate Cherry Moonshine Preserves at breakfast, and at the Candy Kitchen, we’re making a white chocolate bark with, what else? Cherries!

Here is our recipe. And, we cannot tell a lie, this is so good!

Old-Fashioned Cherry Crumble

Makes 8 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 38 to 42 minutes

Ingredients needed for pie:

4 cups pitted sour cherries (see Notes)

1/4 cup dried cherries, if desired (see Notes)

4 to 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

 

Crumble Topping:

3/4 cup Old Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 tablespoons  Old Mill Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup Old Mill Thick Table Rolled Oats

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set aside a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. If you are using our Farmhouse Collection Pie Plate or Pottery Pie Plate, like we do, do not preheat your oven and add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
  2. Drain the cherries and place in a large bowl with dried cherries and sugar. Toss to combine, and set aside.
  3. For the topping, place the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Or, place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch size pieces and distribute over the top of the bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (Or, if using a food processor, pulse until combined.) Stir in the oats and pecans. Work the mixture with your hands until it comes together into loose pieces. Set aside.
  4. Turn the cherries and any juice that might have seeped from them into the reserved pan. Cover the cherries with the topping, using your hands as needed to distribute it over the top. Place the pan in the oven.
  5. Bake until the crumble is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges, 38 to 42 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool 20 minutes before serving warm in bowls with ice cream.

Notes: If fresh sour cherries are available, by all means, use them in this recipe. If you are baking this out of season, however, you can use canned or frozen, thawed cherries. Drain cherries well. The dried cherries add flavor, and they soften as the crumble bakes.

The Pottery House Cafe & Grille’s Warm Collard Green & Artichoke Dip with Fried Pork Rinds

February 4 isn’t just Super Bowl Sunday – it’s also National Pork Rind Appreciation Day, and here in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, we’ve created one easy, delectable snack that commemorates both. Cooked Southern greens, artichoke hearts, and flecks of sweet red pepper brighten up a warm, cheesy dip that pairs perfectly with the Pottery House Cafe & Grill’s salty-rich pork rinds seasoned with our own blend of barbecue seasonings. These pieces of dried pork skin, minus most of the fat, are deep-fried until they puff up and crackle like popcorn. The sound is amazing when they come out of the fryer and they are still crackin’ and poppin’ when they are served, on our handcrafted pottery, as an appetizer in the Cafe’. They’re addictive just as they are, and are perfect for serving with any dip where you might serve tortilla chips.

These pork rinds are sold online as well as at The Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen and The Old Mill General Store adjoining the 200-year-old working grist mill on the Little Pigeon River, one of the most photographed mills in the country and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today our flint-granite French Buhr stones crank out 1,000 pounds of meals, grits, and flours a day that are sold online and appear in many of our home-cooked specialties served at The Old Mill Restaurant and the Old Mill Pottery House Cafe & Grille. All are part of our Old Mill Square, which also includes a candy kitchen, craft distillery, creamery, gourmet shop, and gift store featuring pottery crafted by artisans on the premises.

You can also purchase our Warm Collard Green Dip with Pork Rinds, ready to heat and serve, at our Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen. But if you can’t get by, try our recipe below!

One of our chefs, Danielle Speelman, visited WBIR’s Live @ 5 @ 4, a local news show, to cook this for them. She always does an amazing job! We are so fortunate to have so many talented and passionate people with us here at The Old Mill. If you would like to watch the video, just click here!

To round out your Super Bowl spread, check out some of our other Old Mill products:

Warm Collard Green and Artichoke Cheese Dip with Pork Rinds

Makes 10 to 12 servings (about 4 cups)
Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 25 to 30 minutes

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped collard greens, thawed and drained well (see Note)
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 rounded tablespoons finely minced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt, or pick up our Zapp Seasoning in the Farmhouse Kitchen
1/2 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
Mean Green Jalapeno Hot Sauce or Pickled Jalapeno Mix pepper slices for serving
2 bags (2 ounces each) The Old Mill Pork Rinds, for serving

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the collards in a colander or sieve set in the sink, and press down with a large spoon to press out all the water. Turn the drained collards in a large mixing bowl. Add the artichoke hearts, cream cheese, Parmesan, sour cream, mayonnaise, red pepper, and seasoning salt. Stir to combine well. Spoon the dip mixture into a 5- to 6-cup souffle dish or an 11- by 7-inch glass baking dish. Scatter the shredded cheese over the top. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the dip until it is bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, and serve warm with hot pepper sauce or pickled jalapeno peppers, if desired, and pork rinds.

Note: If you are using fresh collard greens, wash them well, drain and finely chop. Place about 5 cups fresh collards in a saucepan with chicken stock or water to cover. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and let cool. Measure out 1 packed and generous cup of collard greens to use in this recipe.