Breakfast buffet: National biscuit month
September 23rd, 2011
08:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

This month, every day is golden delicious - September is National Biscuit Month!

Making truly wonderful, light, fluffy biscuits is almost a lost art form, but luckily, you've got a whole month to discover your biscuit-baking gift!

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What we know as biscuits today began quite differently. The name is derived from Latin, meaning "twice-cooked." During the Middle Ages, biscuits were hard, twice-baked and made to take on the road. In fact, biscuits are still considered to be sort of a cracker everywhere else but here. No hardtack for us!

Soft, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth golden biscuits from the South can be made many different ways, but as one who regularly chows down on Mama's magic biscuits on Saturday mornings, let me point you in the right direction. Callie's biscuits, made with cream cheese, bake up light and fluffy, perfect to split in half and spread with preserves, butter, cheddar cheese or even wrap around homemade breakfast sausage. Double the batch and you can freeze half for next weekend's lazy breakfast!

Want to change up your biscuit baking? Try Southern Living's tempting cinnamon raisin and pimento cheese variations. Here's to hoping your basket will be filled with biscuits all month long!

Some tips from our Managing Editor's "biscuit mission" a few years back:

– Store the flour in the freezer, and sift it before measuring, even if it says "pre-sifted" on the bag. This has a direct effect upon the density. An overall low temperature keeps fat from heating, so use every opportunity to bring the chill. 3 1/2 – 4 cups of flour scooped straight from the bag can yield 5 cups after sifting. It makes a significant difference. Thus far, Southern Biscuit Self-Rising and White Lily All-Purpose have been very good to me.

– Whisk dry ingredients together, rather than stirring, in order to maintain airiness.

– Don't skimp on the salt, and even if it's not called for in the recipe, toss in a pinch of sugar to aid with a crunchy crust.
– Chill the fat as well, and experiment to find the blend that suits your tastes. The shortening batches I tried lacked flavor, and once cooled, lost any initial moisture. I've settled on a 50/50 blend of lard and unsalted butter, which adds a rich flavor upon immediate serving, and helps any leftovers remain entirely appealing, even through a re-heating.

– To mix in the fat, cut it into pat-sized pieces, chill your hands under cold water, dry them, and use your fingers to rub the fat into the dry ingredients. Work it down until half feels like meal, and the other half is pea-sized lumps.

– Buttermilk is the only way to go, liquid-wise, and make sure it's cold. The mixture should be fairly wet, as the escaping steam will help loft the layers.

– I've yet to experiment with my grandmother-in-law's pillow-case rolling method, but have opted instead for a brief knead, and then pat the dough into a rough, thick rectangle. Early batches barely held together because I was afraid to touch the dough. I got over it.

– Al la Master Biscuit Maker Scott Peacock, dip a dinner fork into flour and prick the surface of the dough all over before cutting the biscuits. It'll help steam escape. And for goodness sake, don't twist the cutter, as that will seal the sides and inhibit the loft you're after. Let the sides touch a little, as that will provide a pleasing contrast in texture.

– Use an ultra-hot oven, 'bout 500F, and use the top couple of racks. Parchment paper on a cookie sheet provides a perfect, non-stick surface.

– A little bit of melted butter brushed onto the biscuit tops seconds after they leave the oven helps 'em taste like heaven above.

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Filed under: Biscuits • Breakfast Buffet • Dishes • Food Holidays • News

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Truth

    Dang, but that pic looks good!

    September 23, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  2. AleeD

    Woo-hoo! Reading about those above reminded me of Hardee's glazed cinnamon raisin biscuits. Phenomenal!

    September 23, 2011 at 8:11 am |
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