It took years before I was able to make biscuits like my mother. I didn’t say they were as good as her’s, but they look pretty much the same. Growing up in my household meant fresh homemade biscuits every day. Mom usually made them for dinner but sometimes breakfast was a stack of biscuits with cream and honey, a favorite of my Dad’s. He would get the fresh cream from a neighbor down the road that raised milk cows.
Youngins that grew up on southern biscuits know they are made by hands that love them. Maybe that is the secret ingredient that makes them so special. My mother always made it a treat for the grandkids. Each child got a small amount of dough to shape into whatever creature they wanted. Most turned out to look like snakes. Little faces sat patiently while the biscuits cooked and quickly identified their creation as they came out of the oven.
Like I said, it took years to finally make a biscuit like my mother’s. I watched her carefully because she never measured anything. She just threw the ingredients together like clock work. For what it is worth, here is her recipe as far as it can be interpreted:
For those who do not know what clabbered milk is, it is soured milk that has not been pasteurized. Remember that neighbor down the street with the cows? Dad bought milk from her as well as the cream. Since it had not been pasteurized, it was safe to let sit at room temperature until it began to sour. The sour part would rise to the top, looking curdled and that was the clabbered milk. Using it in biscuits was common before households had refrigeration. It is a wonderful ingredient that gives the biscuit more flavor.
Mix the flour with the Crisco and then slowly mix in the clabbered milk until the dough is real sticky. Begin kneading by flouring your hands. Don’t add more flour, just dust your hands till the dough is well blended and flexible. Kneading too much can make the dough tough.
Pinch off balls about the size of a small lemon. Place the biscuits on a dark, greased baking dish. Let stand for about 15 minutes or until the biscuits have risen a little. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove when the tops are brown. Let sit in a bread basket for 10 minutes before serving.
Find a good neighbor that raises milk cows and arrange to buy some milk and cream. That is the country way and the southern way, but if it’s not possible for you, substitute the clabbered milk with buttermilk. One thing you can try is the cream and honey. Just mix some together on your plate and dip your biscuit in for a real palate delight!
I will never forget rolling out biscuit dough as a child or watching my children do the same with my Mother. She is no longer here to make the biscuits with the grandchildren and great-grandchild, but I will bet you there is not a one of them, that forgets making biscuits with their Nana, or the wonderful smell as they cooked and the excitement they felt when their biscuit was recgonized from all the rest. Enjoy this good old fashioned recipe, and make some great family memories while you’re at it.