My grandfather would have loved these!
Growing up we always lived right next-door to our grandparents and we ate a lot of snacks/meals at their house. My grandfather had some quirky eating preferences. He liked to have his dessert along with his meal, he would crumble his cornbread in a big glass of Bulgarian buttermilk, and he loved to mix molasses with the butter to put on hot biscuits right out of the oven. And, to this day I can picture him doing those things.
I never thought I would like molasses and back then I’m sure I would have turned up my nose at the thought of molasses mixed with butter. But, when I saw this recipe in Garden and Gun magazine from Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, I knew I was going to have to try and make these biscuits. I’ll probably never get to Blackberry Farm but at least I can try their biscuits. You have to take a look at their website; over the top luxury that looks fantastic.
How do you think those pioneer women made biscuits? I can picture them standing over a old wooden table with a floured covered apron on dusting the table with flour and cutting out the biscuits. Then I started wondering what they use for baking powder. Baking powder was discovered in 1843, not sure what they would have done before then. Maybe they didn’t even have biscuit cutters maybe they had to form the little balls of dough in your hands and pat them out flat. However they did them I’m sure they were delicious with some fresh churned butter.
After researching a little I found that before the discovery of baking soda that things like eggs, sour dough starters (which can be made from potatoes) and even potash was used for leavening agents and I’m sure there were a lot of “hockey puck” biscuits made before the lady of the house discovered ways of getting those light fluffy biscuits we all love. (I do like crispy crunchy biscuits also with a soft middle.)
Sorghum was hard to find in my area and I didn’t want to take the time or money to order the Muddy Pond sorghum that Blackberry Farm uses to mix with their butter since I had some molasses sitting in my pantry. I use to think they were one and the same but sorghum comes from the sorghum plant that looks much like corn stalks and molasses comes from processing sugar cane. I’m substitute the molasses for the sorghum because I feel like the taste is close enough that it won’t make a difference.
Notes about the recipe: They suggest cutting biscuits 1/2″. I never cut my biscuits less than 3/4″ thick. I made them the way they described and you can see the results. They were not really tall biscuits. I do like the way they flake apart which from the way the dough is buttered and folded. They also suggest baking at 400° which I did and it took almost twice the 14 minutes they said to bake them for. The recipe wasn’t really clear about when you roll into a rectangle and butter 2/3 and then fold, and do over two more times, whether you roll back into a rectangle each time or not — I did. I would cut bigger than the 2″ cutter I used — maybe 2 1/2″ or 3″ cutter next time. Epicurious adapted this recipe and changed the temperature to 450° and explained the rolling out better. I’m giving you Epicurious’ technique and baking time for the biscuits because the instructions are easier to understand.
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I finally found some White Lily flour in Missouri when we were visiting and when I returned home my HEB now carries it. I will start using that for all my baking projects.
Measure all dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine.
Add the Crisco and using two knives (or your fingers or pastry blender) and cut the shortening into the flour until you have pea size pieces.
Gather the dough up and knead it 8-10 times on a floured board.
Roll out to about 1/2″.
Butter 2/3 of the dough; then fold, repeat, three times (read instructions below).
For last step, roll out to about 3/4″ thick and either cut in squares or use 3″ round biscuit cutter. If you are using a cutter, down cut/twist when cutting out; just press straight down and pull biscuit out. I think the twisting makes the biscuits twist while baking.
Put the cut out biscuits on a parchment lined pan about 1 – 1 1/2 apart. Bake at 450°.
Mix the molasses (or sorghum) with the room temperature butter.
Serve hot biscuits with the sorghum (molasses) butter. ENJOY!
- 1 1/4 lb. White Lily all-purpose flour (about 4 2/3 cups)
- 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. shortening
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 8 Tbsp. soft butter
- 1/2 c. Muddy Pond Sorghum (or molasses)
- 1 c. soft butter, unsalted
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt into a bowl, then blend in shortening with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 3/4 cups buttermilk and stir, adding up to 1/4 cup more, a little at a time, if needed, to form a soft but not sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 10 times.
- Pat out dough on floured surface into a 14- by 10-inch rectangle. With a short side nearest you, spread top two thirds of dough evenly with 3 tablespoons softened butter, leaving bottom (the third closest to you) unbuttered. Fold dough into thirds, like a letter (unbuttered bottom third up, then top buttered third down over dough).
- Turn dough 90 degrees (so a short side is nearest you) and pat into a rectangle about 12 by 9 inches. Spread top two thirds of dough evenly with 3 more tablespoons softened butter and fold like a letter again.
- Turn dough 90 degrees (so a short side is nearest you) and pat into a rectangle 12 by 9 inches. Spread top two thirds of dough evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons softened butter and fold dough like a letter once more.
- Pat out dough 3/4 inch thick and cut out biscuits with floured cutter, then arrange 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather scraps and pat out once more, then cut out rounds and transfer to baking sheet. Lightly brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and bake in middle of oven until golden and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
- My biscuits in this picture were cut 1/2" which I thought was a little thin. I will go back to my method I have used all my life and that is if you want a big biscuit, cut them big.
Janet RussellApril 20, 2019 at 11:03 am
Sherry, when I make this recipe and cut 3/4” thick, how many biscuits do I get from one recipe?
SherryApril 20, 2019 at 11:07 am
Janet, I should have counted. Since it is 4 cups of flour, I’d say 24. That is what I counted in the picture. All depends too on what size cutter you use. I sometimes use a 2″ cutter or a 3″.