One hundred years ago, making biscuits didn’t need the qualifier of “from scratch.” It’s just what people did. People cooked. They sifted and baked, rolled and cut. It wasn’t a big deal because it was just a part of daily eating life. But, as with everything, things eventually began to change when premade, ready-to-bake biscuits hit shelves in the 1930s. Although biscuit making is easy, the premades were even easier.
I would love to travel back in time and be a fly on the wall — or a distant cousin — to my family and see first hand how they lived, cooked, ate. It fascinates me. I leaf through pictures and journal entries and am awed by the intertwining lives of my cousins of the 20th Century. They shared wonderful experiences, like heading off for a picnic dinner on a whim.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. I read through our family’s cookbook, soaking in the words and emotions, and I feel like I am there at the homestead, though I never was. (Actually, truth be told, I was in our family’s home just once when I was in elementary school — but it was about 10 years after the home had been sold. Today, I live in the same town as that home, but I haven’t been there.) And I wonder, what is the homestead of my generation? What will my kids look back and remember of the family?
Each generation creates their own space, dynamic, memories … my generation surely has ours. There are so many things to look back on and smile. Maybe someday I will share them, but for now they belong to us: my family.
In the introduction to that family cookbook, my cousin Barb wrote, “During dinner you are apt to hear the loud laughter echoing from the pantry when a frozen sherbert (sic) dessert gets away and skitters across the painted floor. Failures are followed by giggles after the initial cursing of whipped cream turning to butter.”
Oh, to be a fly. My generation is a giggly bunch too. Accidents and mishaps are almost certain to dissolve the room to laughter … like when my mousse exploded all over the kitchen cabinets on Christmas Day last year. There is always a good reason to laugh.
What about your family? Do you have that strong family bond, binding generations and cousins? Do you look back and wonder what it was like to be part of past generations? I would love to hear …
Now, onto the biscuits. I really love biscuits, but finding a recipe that I loved proved to be challenging. I wanted an easy recipe made with pantry items that produced a fluffy inside and a crisp outside. I ended up experimenting a bit to get the right mix (more whole wheat, less ap flour; more fluffy, less chewy). These biscuits are the result.
Have you made biscuits from scratch before? If you haven’t, you should. I swear, they aren’t difficult to make. Served hot from the oven, these only take about 20 minutes total. Maybe 30 minutes, if you are a first timer. They’re wonderful and go so well with so many meals.
The trick is to roll out the dough and fold it in a few times (see photo below) before you cut the biscuits. It gives them that lovely layered texture that is just so awesome.
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1½ tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Sift together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Using two knives, cut in the butter until it's finely chopped and the mixture resembles crumbles. Add the milk and stir until just combined. The dough should be moist, but not in one cohesive ball yet.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough 10-15 times (it's going to be sticky). Then lift it, reflour the board and set it back down. (This is a good time to wash your hands). Sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour as well as the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to a thin sheet and fold in two ends. Roll out again and repeat the process 2-3 times. Then, roll it to a ¾-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter (2½-3 inches) to cut biscuits. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake the biscuits for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.