Granny’s Biscuits

There is something I’m not shy about saying.

I have the perfect Granny. Just look at her. You can’t deny it. She is the epitome of what you imagine in your mind when you hear the name Granny.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a Granny, but I do. I have a real southern legit Granny.

She taught me to clean a catfish, a bass, a brim, make friend cornbread, and most importantly biscuits.

I will share this recipe with you now, but you have to promise to not become discouraged. I say this, because while I give you her recipe, you will not have her skill. She’s been making biscuits now for 70 years. My dad told my mom before they married that she had to learn to make these biscuits. She tried. She’s a yankee. She made bricks. It’s an easy mistake.

Here’s Granny’s biscuit how to with step by step instructions to a perfect southern Alabama biscuit also known as cathead biscuits.

1.) All good southern cooks keep a bowl of flour handy in their pantry to make biscuits. Choose your bowl wisely. You need to have one large enough and tall enough to make a well in the middle of. Contrary to how most biscuits are made, these are made in a well. You don’t add a certain number of cups of flour, but continuously work out of your bowl. The biscuits will pick up the needed flour as you go.

Granny chose the bowl below with a tubberware lid. Before the biscuits are made each time she sifts thru the flour to get out the remaining dough from the last time she made biscuits. She doesn’t sift through the dough directly after making the biscuits, because the dough is still soft and will clog her sifter. It’s easier to pick out those hard pieces when they are hard pieces and not soft pieces. If you are going to keep a bowl of flour, this is an important step. If you don’t sift the flour, you’ll have little pebbles in your biscuits when you make them later. If you sift the flour directly after, your sifter will look like mine when my roommate thought she would be nice and wash my sifter for me…it got clogged and had to be trashed in the end.

2) With your flour in your bowl, make a well in the center, this is where you will pour all your ingredients into. Do not make your well too deep, you don’t want to scrap the bottom of the bowl later when you are kneading the biscuits. Granny uses Lily White Flour to make her biscuits.

3) Pour 1/4 cup oil in the center of your well. Granny uses vegetable oil, I use coconut oil. Thus, my biscuits are denser and coconut flavored and hers are lighter and crisp.

4) Pour 3/4 cup milk in the center of you well. Granny always uses buttermilk. If you don’t keep buttermilk around, you can add a spoonful of vinegar to regular milk, stir, and let it sit. It will turn to buttermilk.

5) Now for the tricky part, you are going to knead the ingredients. Be careful  to take a little flour from the side each time. This is where your well building becomes very important. If you made a deep well, you will gather too much flour from the bottom of the bowl and your dough will be on the bottom in a mess. With time, you’ll learn your well making skills. It’s better to be more wide then too deep.

At first the dough will be a sticky mess, but with skill you will be like Granny and only give it a few turns and be finished and have a nice looking dough. The first time I attempted this in front of her, she called my dough “ragged.” With time, hopefully you won’t have ragged dough. I am always amazed at her ability not to have mounds of wet dough on her hands as she works the dough and makes the biscuits.

It’s also important during this step not to add to much flour to your dough. If you add to much flour, your dough will be overworked and you will be making rocks like my mom did before she married my dad.

6) When your dough has made a nice ball in your well, you need it 3 times or 4 times, but not 5. You don’t want the dough to pick up too much flour. Also, its best to knead it in the bowl.

7) Now the fun part begins. Shape your biscuits! Granny uses a “choke” method. She squeezes a corner off the dough and “chokes it off” to get enough dough to form a biscuit.

Above is a picture of Granny “choking a biscuit off.”

8 ) Pat your biscuit to give it that round shape, but don’t overwork the dough. Place in a greased baking pan or pie plate. We usually use metal and not glass at Granny’s house. Once the biscuits are all in the pan, Granny pats the tops of them down with fingers coated in oil.

9) Now the hard part…waiting. Bake the biscuits in an oven at 425°F for 15-20 minutes. Then Granny always broils for a minute or so until she can tell they are golden. It is best to broil with the oven door open. Don’t walk away, or else you will have black biscuits in a flash.

My mom prefers gooey biscuits and I have caught her taking biscuits out of the oven, because she is in fear I will broil them. To save my mom’s fingers and make the gooey biscuit eater happy, I never broil the biscuits when I make them for her now. They are still wonderful.

10) Behold: the perfect biscuit. Perfect with an filling you want, or even just plain.

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