Anyone Can Make Biscuits. Everyone Should

As I prepare to head back down South to my hometown, in Galax, Virginia, to cook with my Aunt Mariah, I've been perusing some of my Southern cookbooks, which of course has made me hanker, like crazy, for some biscuits.

Not that Aunt Mariah makes biscuits. She is known for her exquisite Parker House rolls, which are pillowy yeasty pale butter-browned wonders, and I've always wanted to learn how to make them. She'd better teach me.

Contrary to popular belief, you see, not everyone in the South spends half of their daylight hours cutting lard into flour and frying up country ham to make ham biscuits.  If that were true, I'd certainly still live there.

While I do miss those super-salty, leathery slices of pan-fried country ham, which is what always accompanied  biscuits--at least in my memory--when I was growing up (ham biscuits seemed to show up everywhere back then, at the Midtowner Restaurant, at bake sales, at the Fiddler's Convention, at church potlucks, and for sale at card tables at the VFW gun show and flea market in Hillsville)--it is important to know that country ham is not the boss of biscuits. 

Biscuits are good with a smoked salmon and goat cheese frittata at brunch, or a bowl of vegetable or tomato soup for lunch, or butter and jam with tea. Biscuits are like flowers, which, according to Aunt Mariah (the Emily Post in my life), are a perfectly wonderful thing to offer at any time.

But I had never baked any myself until I grew up and bought Marion Cunningham's perfect little book "The Breakfast Book."  These biscuits do not require the least bit of hard labor, or buttermilk, no beating or much kneading, and they do not contain lard (this may be a downside for you). Also, they are very pretty and they are not round but cut into squares (which reminds me of an old Southern math joke--they exist--the punchline of which is: Pie are not square. Cornbread are square. Pie are round.) So you don't even need a biscuit cutter. 

And I dare you to find and send me an example/recipe of/for an easier and more delicious biscuit. Oh, I'm forgetting my Southern manners, yet again. What I meant to say is: Please try them at your earliest convenience, and share your own recipe if you wish. I'll set up a biscuit blogroll!

Cream Biscuits, from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book
Makes 1 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup (5 1/2 tablespoons) melted butter (for coating biscuits)

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Use an ungreased baking sheet. 
  2. Combine the flour, salt,  baking powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork to blend and lighten. 
  3. Slowly add 1 cup of the cream to the mixture, stirring constantly. Gather dough together. When it is tender and holds together, it is ready to knead. If it seems too shaggy and pieces are falling away slowly add enough cream to make the dough hold together. 
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for one minute. That is not a very long time!
  5. Pat the dough into a square that is 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 12 squares and dip each into the melted butter to coat all sides. Place the biscuits 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.


  1. I love love love biscuits. Savory and sweet. I always have used the buttermilk recipe out of Joy of Cooking. I love the use of cream in yours, but I never knead. I mix with my hand and count ten turns of the bowl. Done. Period. My son is allergic to dairy, so I use soy milk and crisco for him, but it is not the same. Thank God he has no idea what he is missing.

  2. Wow, MCT, that's pretty amazing--ten turns. But to be honest, I think a minute is a tad too long anyway. I actually like crisco in biscuits. You could do half with soymilk and crisco, half with cream!

    Thanks for reading Cook the Wolf!