Sunday, March 4, 2012

Monday's Makings: Mama's Crumbly Biscuits

When I started this blog I planned to talk about a variety of things I do.  I really don't spend all of my time sewing, working and complaining about my migraines.  Somehow I was side tracked from that.  Tonight I am going to start correcting that.  I am going to try to post a recipe every Monday.  Some will have pictures and some won't.  This one does.

Background:  I have three sons.....with huge appetites and amazing metabolism.   I don't know that I have mentioned it but we farmed for the first 20 years of our marriage.  Another tidbit is all of my sons were/are distance runners.  Food is very important to a family like ours and I don't mean takeout or frozen dinners.  We eat a lot of "stick to your ribs" kind of foods.

I grew up in a fairly modest (polite way of saying nearly dirt poor) family.  Biscuits and gravy were a cheap way to extend a meal.  I could make milk gravy when I was in the third grade.  My boys LOVE Mama's gravy.  Now, I personally love those layered biscuits that come in a roll in the refrigerated section.  My kids will eat them but what they prefer are what they named Mama's Crumbly Biscuits and their favorite way to eat them is with sausage gravy over them for breakfast. 

I have been tweaking this recipe for about 30 years.  I think it was 15 or 16 years ago I finally got it right for us.  Hopefully, someone out there in blog land has been looking for the perfect biscuit recipe.  My sons and their friends say this is it.

Starting with the ingredients:

3 cups of flour
4 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
3/4 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons of sugar

1/2 + 1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup shortening

1 cup of milk
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Remove your rings and wash your hands.  This is kind of a messy recipe.

Place the 1/4 cup of butter into the pan you intend to use.

This is my biscuit pan.  I got it when my grandmother died. It is the second one I have had.  My husband burnt up my first one (acquired at an auction when we were first married) by accident.  This is an Ovenex pan.  I have no idea when they stopped making them but I love them.

If you aren't an experienced baker or your oven doesn't heat evenly, don't use a dark pan like this one.

Enough about my the pan with the butter in it into the preheating oven.

Place all of the dry ingredients in the bowl together.  Mix them up thoroughly.  I think this is a 2 quart bowl.  It is my second mixing bowl, too.  I wore a hole in the first.  My oldest son assures me I won't live long enough to wear a hole in this one.  My kids are sweet to me like that!

Add the fats (butter and shortening).  It is fine to use margarine if you wish.  I find I feel better if I use more natural ingredients but I actually like the flavor of margarine better.  I know that is weird! 

Better check your pan in the oven.  Is the butter melted?  Nearly so?  Take it out then.  We just want it melted and nothing more.

Have you ever used a pastry blender?  If you don't have one, use a couple of forks.  I did for years.  This one is from Pampered Chef and I highly recommend it.  Cut the fats into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse meal or all the pieces are pea size or smaller.

Measure the milk and add the egg to it mixing it well.  You may find it helpful to beat the egg before adding it to the milk.  I just do it all in a 2-cup measuring cup.

Don't throw that fork in the sink!  Dump all the liquid right into your bowl and take the fork with it.

Using the fork mix until everything is wet and the liquid is absorbed.  Don't over mix and do not use a mixer for this.

Place about 3/4 of cup of flour onto the dough board or the clean counter if you don't have one.  Dump this wet mess right into the center of that.  Sprinkle a little flour across the top so that it doesn't stick to your hands too much.  Knead the dough lightly by folding it to the center and then pressing down on it.  Do this from each direction (side, top, side, bottom) for about 10 to 12 "kneads".  Your dough should look something like this.

Try not to overwork the dough.  At this point you could use a rolling pin but I just pat my dough out on the floured surface, turning it at least once to keep it floured, until it is a little thicker than my thumb.

Do you see that wine glass sitting there?  That is my biscuit cutter.  I haven't found one that works better for me.  Word of warning here. If you are drinking wine while you make biscuits be sure to keep the full glass (okay, half empty glass) and the "biscuit cutter" separated.  It is not a good thing to try to use the one you are drinking from to cut your biscuits.  Ask me how I know.

Flour whatever you are using as biscuit cutter and begin to cut your biscuits.  Try to use a straight down motion.  Also, to minimize handling the dough, cut the biscuits as close together as you can get them.

I now take the pieces and work them back together and make a couple more biscuit from them.  I can generally get a dozen wine glass sized biscuits. 

Pick up a biscuit and dust the excess flour off lightly.  Lay it in the pan and then turn it over so that there is melted butter on both sides.

Do this for all of the biscuit.  You may have to move around the pan a bit to get butter on all of them.

As you can see, all of mine are not totally coated nor are they perfectly shaped.  This isn't county fair.  It is supper at home.  Bake for 12 to 16 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.    Now is the time to clean up the mess made.  It really is worth it.

I know.  Same picture.  Family came in as I was finishing up supper and I put away the camera.

These biscuits are excellent with gravy.  We then like to finish the meal with a biscuit and honey, jam or apple butter.  It is fine to make the biscuits and leave them set for a 30 or 40 minutes while you prep the rest of the meal.  If you want to prep them the night before, the baking time will take a little longer.

I hope you enjoyed Monday's Makings!



  1. I'm gonna have to give your recipe a go because my kids HATE my homemade biscuits (my mom's recipe). She calls them 'drop' biscuits because you don't roll them out. Yours look awesome. So...when you gonna share the gravy recipe?

  2. the look delious, I am gonna try you have a recipe for home made gravy that u use from bacon.............

    1. I have a general set of directions. Mostly I add bacon grease when there isn't enough fat in the sausage to make the roux for the gravy. I will try to write something up soon.


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