This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Joy of Visits

How to celebrate the too-seldom gathering of one's offspring? (More importantly, how to occupy one's mind and hands when the young folk are on the road?) How to tempt a repeat visit before too much more time passes?

Two words: Yeast Biscuits.
Sinfully good for breakfast. lunch, or supper. Easy to make if you know a few tricks. A great way to fill the kitchen with welcoming fragrance. A sure-fire way to gain back those three pounds you worked so hard to lose.

Combine and allow to foam: 1/4 cup warm water; 2 Tbsp sugar; 2 Tbsp active dry yeast (or two packages, which amount to slightly less)

Mix: 5 cups self-rising flour, 1 tsp. baking soda
(Self-rising flour is plain old flour that has baking powder and salt already added. You can look up the proportions and do it yourself, but the individual I got this recipe from was slightly lazy.)

Cut in 1 cup shortening-- (I use1 bar of Crisco, though butter would be, well, fabulous.)

Add the yeast mixture and 2 cups of buttermilk. (My preference is Bulgarian buttermilk; if you are desperate, add 1 tsp lemon juice for each cup milk and allow to stand 10 minutes. But keep in mind, buttermilk lasts forever and makes fab pancakes, so go ahead and buy the real thing. And, yes, some people are willing to consume buttermilk as a beverage, but I am not one of them...shudder.)

Mix well to get a rough dough--it will not be smooth and elastic like bread dough. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Keeps one week. (If you get some discoloration, ignore it.)
You can bake anything from two rolls to the whole shooting match.

To prepare biscuits:
Pull out desired amount of dough and put on floured board. (Well, to be honest, I just use the clean counter top.) Grease a baking pan or sheet; yes, even if it's nonstick. Lightly knead your dough 2-3 times, pat or roll out to 1/2" thickness, and cut into rounds. If you are so benighted as to lack a cutter, use a thin-lipped glass or just criss-cross with a knife into even squares. Space about 1" apart. Allow these to rise for a while; I cover with a damp dish towel, and I wait up to an hour to bake. Preheat oven to 375-400; ovens vary, so be flexible. You don't want the bottom too browned and hard before the top is nicely tan. They will bake in 10 to 15 minutes; check one--you do not want a wet, doughy center. Serve with butter; nothing else is really fair. These go with everything-- jam, eggs and bacon, blue-gill fillets-- honest, it's hard to go wrong.

This is my version of a recipe from a Prudence Hilburn cookbook, Treasury of Southern Baking. My maiden name was Hilburn, and I just had to check the book out of the library..... I think she does a few things wrong, but she might have jumped the rails one way or another. I myself married a Yankee, so I point no fingers.


  1. Yes, self-rising flour and buttermilk. Those are two ingredients we always keep in the house, but my Georgia-boy husband prefers baking soda biscuits. Have you ever thought of making a saffron broth for the liquid? Wowie, best ever!

  2. This Georgia-girl has never thought of a saffron-broth for the liquid, but is willing to consider branching out...(anxious, suspicious look).... but it seems really, really risky!


  3. The first time I had a saffron yeast biscuit was when I was growing up. A neighbor lady made them. She also added raisins. I tried to duplicate them, but my liquid was always too hot, and I killed the yeast. We have used saffron in Irish Soda Bread, and that came out fine. One of these days I will try again with the saffron yeast biscuits. All you do is heat your liquid (buttermilk in this case) slightly and let the saffron steep in it for a while to impart flavor and color. You can either strain out the saffron threads (unless you use saffron powder) or leave them in for an interesting look. Quantity of saffron depends on how noticeable you want the flavor. Saffron is kind of subtle re flavor, but it sure gives an interesting color.

  4. I've used it in paella and other rice dishes....this does sound good. Thanks!

  5. M. Adams Little Rock ARApril 17, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    I have made many, many recipes from the cookbook " Treasury of Southern Baking" by Prudence Hilburn, and from her other 10 cookbooks. I have not found any of her recipes that I would say she was "wrong" Really, how could someone that has won 30 National cooking awards, 6 time Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist, an instructor at Jacksonville State University and a Longtime food columist.....Be wrong ??? Try some of her other recipes they are wonderful !!


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