Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Plateful of Biscuits

I want to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas (or, if you don’t celebrate, a Happy Holiday season)!

It’s been a short while since I’ve posted, but that’s because of the hustle-and-bustle of the season. Now that it’s pretty much over, I’m hoping to turn an eye back towards cooking and visiting antique stores.  That said, I took out one of my cookbooks today and decided to try something new.

Settlement BiscuitsThe cookbook I used – actually, a reprint of the 1903 version of the  Settlement Cookbook (Dover,  2005) – is one that had been on my shelf for a while.  I have an original copy of the cookbook, although I think it dates from the 1940s or later; it’s not the original printing, that’s for certain.  Don’t know why I was interested in it, but that’s not important: after a few minutes of thumbing through it, I decided to make a plate of their Baking Powder Biscuits, as described on page 27.  Unfortunately, being a facsimile reprint, there are little specifics beyond the ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsps. butter
  • 3/4-to-1 cup milk or water

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, rub in the butter and add enough milk to make soft dough.  Toss on floured board and roll gently with a rolling pin three-fourths inch thick.  Cut into biscuits and bake on buttered tins in a hot oven from twelve to fifteen minutes.”

Short of making ice cubes, this has got to be the easiest kitchen undertaking I’ve ever had.  Surprisingly, I had everything on hand, and I was able to whip up the dough in no time flat.  I did use an electric mixer, though, as I was not getting the butter mixed in there the way I’d wanted.  That had the potential of creating a sticky mess (literally and figuratively), but in the end, I got the dough onto a floured board, rolled it reasonably flat, and then cut out a dozen biscuits.

The recipe is vague on the cooking time, so as a rule, I preheat my oven (in circumstances like this) to 400F, and then cook breads in five-to-six minute increments. In this case, it took approximately 12 minutes for my pan of biscuits to finish.  I was actually surprised at how flaky they were.  I did feel that they were sort of bland, but a small bit of butter solved that issue fast.  Even the Little Woman – a notoriously finicky eater – liked them.  They’re definitely on par with the Rufus Estes muffins I made back in March, and so easy to make that I can see them added to our Sunday meals.

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