So as you can see, I did not necessarily expect to find gastronomic treasures in my grandmother’s library of cookbooks – although I still wonder what I would have found had I known what to look for at the time. However that Better Homes and Gardens cookbook did get a lot of play as a reference for cookies, roasting temperatures of meats and so on. I prefer that cookbook with all its jewel-toned pictures and recipes for far more Jell-o molds than anyone could possibly need than any more recent edition. And it is to this cookbook that I turn when I need recipes for biscuits or boiled frosting or everyday cake.
Today I am going to tell you about the biscuits. So many people are so ardent about biscuits that I was rather hesitant to try and make them. What if they are not fluffy, what if they turn into hockey pucks, what if they just taste bad – all of these were very real fears that inhibited my biscuit making endeavors. The trickiest part of it is those six words in each biscuit recipe – do not over work the dough. How are you supposed to know!! Where is that elusive fine line between not well mixed and over worked? Will the dough change colors? Will they become inedible? Will the oven explode with terribly formed lumps of dough! The horror!!
Biscuits are in fact not that scary. The problem I realized is that most people don’t get tactile with the biscuits early on the in the process, and herein lies the secret to not overworked biscuits; use your hands! After cutting in the butter, toss those two knives or pastry blender aside and rub the pieces of butter into the flour with your fingers. This is (1) a lot less time consuming (2) a better way to determine the proper point at which to add the milk and (3) is the only sure-fire way to add love into your biscuits.
As adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 1968
1 Tb and 1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. salt
2/3 c. milk (anything but whole milk works fine), plus extra for brushing
2 Tb. Chopped herbs or pesto, optional