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Saturday morning Southern biscuits

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I’ve been wanting to invite you into our Saturday morning milieu for a while. Then Deb posted a recipe for biscuits this week, and it became my destiny to share our ritual with you. For whatever reason–probably having to do with fond memories of the time–Saturday morning is when I miss my family most. Being away from home as long as I have (10 years and counting! Can that be right?), I’ve learned to create pockets of time–little homes away from home–that feed the fire of home that burns in my gut no matter how many feet of snow might be trying to freeze it.

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Our routine starts with bluegrass music, either on Pandora or Spotify. I add to the ambience by making a pot of summery tea (“Crimson blossom” from TJ’s is a favorite) to break up the monotony of wintery chais and hot cocoas. Then we make biscuits. From scratch! Yes, I know, it sounds like a complicated ritual, but I promise that making biscuits takes all of 10 minutes at the most, and it’s so easy that a caveman two year old can do it.

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I credit Nathalie Dupree, a famous Georgian chef and southern cooking expert, for my biscuit-making skills. If I feel like making a small batch (at four biscuits, it’s perfect for our little family), I use lard only. I use half lard, half butter for a large batch.

Southern biscuits

Small Batch Ingredients:
makes 4 biscuits*

1 c. all-purpose or cake** flour
1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 Tbs. lard (substitute butter or shortening at will)
1/3 c. milk  (preferably buttermilk or whole milk)

Large Batch Ingredients:
makes 8-10 biscuits*

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake** flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. lard
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
3/4 c. milk (preferably buttermilk or whole milk)

Notes:
*Throw in a tsp. of sugar (or a scant pinch if making the 4-biscuit recipe) for shortcakes.
**Cake flour can be purchased, or you can make it using sifted all-purpose flour and cornstarch, 1 Tbs. per 1 c. flour.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. 
  2. Combine dry ingredients with a sifter into a bowl. 
  3. Add fat(s) and blend into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until they are pea-sized.
  4. Add milk slowly with a fork until a sticky dough ball forms. 
  5. Turn the dough onto a flour-dusted surface and press with your fingers into a rectangular shape 3/4 inch tall. Fold in half and repeat process twice. If you want smaller biscuits, press until dough is 1/2″ tall. 
  6. Cut into 2-in. circles with a biscuit cutter or juice glass. Try not to overwork the dough, or your biscuits will be tough. Place biscuits a few inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 10-14 minutes on the highest rack in your oven until biscuits are golden brown. Six minutes into baking, turn the tray to ensure even cooking. Biscuits will rise about 1/2″ while baking.

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Try not to let your toddler bend over and blow into the bowl of flour.

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If your kids help you, you’ll end up with a few biscuits that are less than beautiful, but if your kids are like mine they will proudly select their own creations out of the bunch as the perfect biscuit to eat. 
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While the biscuits are cooking, you can let the kids play with the remnants of dough. This activity lasts at least another 15 minutes in our house.

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Top with butter and/or jam. We are slowly eating our way through delicious homemade cranberry apple jam, recipe from Food in Jars.

Take a bite, close your eyes, and imagine yourself on a porch swing in Jawja.

Author’s note: This post is part of The Homestead Barn Hop

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