Any good Southerner will tell you “a biscuit is a thing of beauty – and we South Carolinians take our biscuits seriously,” writes Joquita Burka. “A good biscuit is a cloud of delicate white deliciousness under a honey-gold crust … and making the perfect biscuit is an art.” Dough artists, like skilled craftsmen, have a certain touch: knead the dough too long and the result is tough; knead too little, and the result is gooey.
Biscuits, from Medieval Latin bis coctum means “twice cooked.” Twice cooked “biscuits” were hard, unleavened wafers with very little taste. In some countries – even today – the word biscuit historically refers to a cracker or cookie. By 1828 Webster defined the confection as "a composition of flour and butter, made and baked in private families."
Recipes for these leavened little breads are found in every 19th century cookbook, especially with reference to the cookery of the South,
Becky’s Never Fail Biscuits
- 2 cups self-rising Adluh flour
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2/3 cup milk
Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add in milk. Knead gently 1/2 minute. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter. (A baking powder can makes a great biscuit cutter. Use a bottle opener to cut 2 holes in one end, and leave the other end completely open.) Bake on ungreased sheet at 450º F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Recipe from South Carolina Department of Agriculture