Fanny Farmer's Baking Powder Biscuits

I don't know about you, but I love warm biscuits on a Sunday morning.
Add homemade cherry jam and they become roughly five million times more irresistible.


Biscuits have always been a family favorite. My grandma, Neeny, regularly had biscuits on the table for breakfast on Sunday mornings and Mom makes them nearly every time I'm home! 
I remember one Mother's Day when I was probably eight or nine, I thought it'd be the best thing in the world if I made my mom breakfast in bed. I got up a 3:00 am, found the recipe and all the ingredients, and turned the oven on to about 200° F (or whatever the lowest setting was). I had misread the recipe and thought it said to bake the biscuits at 125° F not 425° F. 
I'm sure you'll be shocked to find that even after an hour, they never baked.
Because my mom is the best mom, she ate them anyway 
(and gently reminded me I probably shouldn't turn on the oven without supervision).

Today I'm going to share one of our go-to recipes for 
delicious, flaky, quick homemade biscuits. 
If you just want the recipe, go ahead and skip to the end!
First things first, preheat your oven to 425° F (not 125° F). 
Now it's time to gather up your dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
Go ahead and just dump those together in whatever order you'd like. Some people like to sift everything together and that's perfectly fine! Others like to add each ingredient one at a time and then give it a mix with a whisk. Either way just make sure your dry ingredients are nice and combined!
After your dry ingredients are mixed up, cut 1/2 c shortening into the dry mixture.
Now, Neeny, Mom, and Lucie (my sister) swear that cutting the shortening in with two knives leads to a better texture than using a dough blender. But, I'm a little lazy and a little uncoordinated so I opted for the dough blender this time.
Once the shortening is cut in, the mixture should resemble a course meal. You mostly just want to make sure you don't have any big chunks of shortening left when you add the milk.
Here's a little close up of the texture you should have!
Next, it's time for the milk! I used skim but you can use 2% or whatever you have on hand. 
One thing to note, this recipe does call for just regular milk and NOT buttermilk. Recipes that use baking powder will call for regular milk and recipes that use baking soda will call for buttermilk. Why?
This is because baking soda, when baked without an acid paired along with it, will taste gross because some of the soda flavor is left behind. But, when an acid is added, it gets rid of the 
baking-soda taste and just helps the bread rise.
Baking powder, on the other hand, already has the acid added into it in powder form which gets rid of the funny taste and eliminates the need for another acid (a.k.a. the buttermilk). If you want to know even more about the chemistry behind it all, you can find a great article here!
Okay, science lesson over.
Now add the milk all at once...
And stir until the dough loosely forms a ball around the fork.
Now, I feel like I can't ever get my dough to really form around the fork like my mom can (maybe it's because of my shortcut dough cutting technique) but I feel like my biscuits turn out mostly the same. If your dough doesn't form a ball completely don't worry, 
we're going to knead things together next!
Dust a hard, clean surface with a little bit of regular ol' flour so the dough doesn't stick.
Instead of dusting my counters directly, I use a piece of muslin fabric that Neeny gave me.
I love using mine because it helps keep my counters clean
and brings back wonderful memories of baking with her.
Turn out your dough (or in my case, dough crumbles) onto your dusted surface in a nice little pile...
And then knead the dough together 14 times. Seriously, that's what the recipe says and I know it seems oddly specific. I would say to knead the dough together enough so that everything is stuck together but not to overwork it.
Bread can be finicky (although I've never had trouble with these biscuits before) and I always try to avoid overworking the dough so it doesn't get tough.
Once the dough is kneaded, pat it out until it's about 1/2" thick. I really eyeball this and actually use my finger as a guide to measure thickness (my finger from tip to first knuckle is about 1" so I pat it out until it's about half that thick). To pat it out I also just use the palm of my hand, easy-peasy! 
Grease two 8" cake pans using whatever you'd like (I used a baking spray)...
Then cut your biscuits out! 
Place your cut biscuits into the cake pans so that they all are touching.
Your center one won't touch the others but it'll be okay!
About eight biscuits should fit in the first pan but you'll have a little dough left over. 
Knead your leftover dough together, pat it out, and cut out as many more biscuits as you can. They might be a tad wonky and not perfectly round but they'll be equally delicious! Once I get to the very last biscuit I don't bother cutting it out, I just shape it into a biscuit-y shape as best I can.
I was able to get about four more biscuits out of my leftover dough and placed them touching in the center of the second cake pan. 

Now pop those little lovelies into the oven (that should be preheated by now) 
and bake for 15 - 20 minutes.
I took the small pan of biscuits out a little before the full pan so they wouldn't dry out.
You'll want to take your biscuits out when they turn a nice golden color.
And voila! Sunday morning breakfast is all ready to go. That wasn't so painful, right?
My favorite way to serve biscuits is with homemade jam or preserves and a big glass of milk. 
You can also serve them with gravy for a more savory option!

Fanny Farmer's Baking Powder Biscuits
Prep Time: 10 minutes || Cook Time: 15-20 minutes || Total Time: 25-30 minutes
Author: Fanny Farmer Cookbook || Serves: 12 servings
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425° F. Put flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl and mix. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles course meal. Add milk all at once and stir until dough forms a ball aroundt he fork. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 14 times. Pat dough until 1/2" thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Spray two 8" cake pans and place the cut out biscuits into it so they touch. Bake 15 - 20 minutes or until golden.

2 comments

  1. Oooh yum! I 'll have to try this one! KC loooves biscuits. We love blackberry jam best. But cherry sounds delicious! XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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    1. Thank you so much! If you do give it a go you'll have to let me know what you think, I absolutely LOVE biscuits! I'll have to post the cherry jam recipe soon, my mom says it's easy to make and it's absolutely delicious! <3

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