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Baking Powder Biscuits

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. If there’s publication information in this edition, they’ve hidden it well: it’s the book with the red, diagonal plaid cover – this edition is probably from the 60s. If you follow the directions and don’t overwork the dough, these are flaky and fluffy.

There are lots of recipes for “these are the best/only authentic biscuits.” Use shortening. Not shortening, butter, you blasphemous Yankee. I’m not from the south, and so not, if one believes the Internet, qualified to judge biscuits. I just know that I rarely make these because I could eat them all myself, in one sitting.

I have never made anything less than a double batch of these, which makes about 15–20, depending on how thick you pat the dough and the size of your biscuit cutter.

Leave your rolling pin in the drawer: just pat out with your hands.
Go to the recipe.

Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.

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Combine the dry ingredients well.

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Add the shortening to the bowl of dry ingredients.

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Cut in the shortening until the mixture is course, about the size of 1/2″ minus gravel. Or, if you must, peas.

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Add the milk to the bowl.

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Stir the dough until it looks about like this.

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Turn the sticky dough onto a floured board. In this case, I’ve floured a Silpat because I do not like cleaning up sticky, dough covered surfaces. Which is why I wear surgical gloves when making these. And when making hamburger patties. And when changing my spark plugs.

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Knead the pile of dough 10–12 times, until looks about like this. Don’t knead too much, or the biscuits will be tough.

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Pat the dough out until it’s about 1/2″ thick.

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Fold the dough over on itself, in thirds. This will help to make the biscuits a little flakier.

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Pat out the folded-over dough until it’s about 3/4″ thick.

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Cut out the biscuits, pushing straight down and not twisting the cutter. Use something sharp so you don’t smash down the edges, which will make the edges stick together (as will twisting the cutter), which will negate your efforts to make flaky biscuits. Contrary to what you’ll read, do not use a drinking glass to cut these out: not sharp enough. If you don’t have a deep, sharp cutter, use a sharp knife. Cut them out square if you like.biscuits 12

Place the cut biscuits on your well-used cookie sheet. Smear some butter on the top of each unbaked biscuit. If you use margarine, don’t tell anyone where you got this recipe. Place the pan in the preheated 450° oven.biscuits 13

Take the biscuits out when they’re golden brown. I’ve read about and tried all kinds of tips to get your biscuits to not flop over like most of these have: place the biscuits on the pan upside-down, be scrupulous about not twisting the cutter, make sure the cutter is sharp. Nothing I’ve tried has helped.

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Eat your delicious biscuits hot out of the oven.

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Baking Powder Biscuits
Recipe type: bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8–10 biscuits
Tall, flaky, delicious biscuits. Try part lard, party shortening – how often are you going to make these that a little lard is going to make a difference in your health?
Preheat oven to 450°.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening (half lard makes them excellent, all lard a bit greasy)
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • butter (for tops)
  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Cut in shortening (and lard) with a pastry blender until dough is coarse crumbs.
  3. Add milk.
  4. Stir just until blended and dough follows mixing spoon around the bowl. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
  5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
  6. Knead dough 10–12 times. I use vinyl gloves for this step. I hate sticky hands.
  7. Pat dough out until about 1/2" thick.
  8. Fold the dough onto itself in thirds.
  9. Pat folded dough out until about 3/4" thick.
  10. Cut with 2-1/2" biscuit cutter.
  11. Place about 1/2" apart on cookie sheet.
  12. Put a dab of butter on top of each biscuit. If you use margarine, just go ahead and toss the whole batch in the garbage now.
  13. Bake at 450º for 15–18 minutes, or until golden, but done in center.

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