Yesterday was cold and raw, with wind buffeting the trees and spitting rain. I wore corduroy to work and changed into my favorite soft sweats when I got home. I drank hot chocolate and extra servings of tea. And at dinner I ate biscuits with warm, tender middles and golden-crisp edges.
I love baking biscuits because they hearken back to times and places when people used words like "hearken." As I measure out the simple ingredients, cut in the butter, gently knead the sticky dough, I think of how I'm part of a long line of people who have made biscuits in much the same way, stretching from the early days of American history to now, when I can later blog about them on a laptop over a wireless internet connection.
If you bake and you like biscuits, you probably already have a recipe. Just in case, here's mine, straight out of the red-and-white-checked Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Because I'm lazy and generally in a hurry to eat the biscuits, I make drop biscuits (rather than rolling out the dough and using a biscuit cutter), so that's the version I've given you here.
Drop Biscuits Supreme
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup butter or ½ cup butter and ¼ cup shortening [I opt for all butter. Butter is good.]
1¼ cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk all at once. Using a fork, stir until mixture is just moistened. [Imagine you are dressed in calico in a two-room cabin on a windswept plain.]
2. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for four to six strokes or just until dough holds together. Using a large spoon, drop dough into 12 mounds onto a greased baking sheet. [Don't forget to set out some of those strawberry preserves you put up yesterday.]
3. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden. Remove biscuits from baking sheet and serve warm. [Almanzo just came in from plowing and said supper's smelling really good.]