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Why Southern Flour Makes the Best Biscuits

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November 18, 2009

Why Southern Flour Makes the Best Biscuits

By John Merwin

Fresh, hot biscuits, anyone? It’s hard for me to imagine a meal in any fishing or hunting camp without some of these tender, flaky morsels soaking up melted butter or swabbing a plate clean of that last bit of gravy. There have been days--and this might be one--when I’d kill for a good biscuit.

Biscuits are easy to make, yet require a deft touch so they don’t get tough and lumpy. Lard or shortening must be cold as it is crumbled through the flour so things don’t get mushy. When milk is added, don’t beat the dough to death or you’ll toughen it. And the oven must be very hot when the biscuits go in or they won’t rise properly.

The kind of flour makes a difference, too. So-called “soft” flours common in the South such as White Lily or Martha  White have fewer gluten-forming proteins than Northern flours and thus rise better in the oven and become flakier. The distinction is so noticeable that I buy southern White Lily flour by mail order for our own use here at home. That company’s website also includes some excellent recipes in case you’re now feeling motivated.

Yes, you can also use Bisquick, the common biscuit pre-mix. I’ve done that in a pinch, like the time a few years back when I made a big batch of chicken-and-biscuits for some hungry trout fishermen (myself included) in Colorado that had everybody cleaning their plates.

And there are lots of minor variations in both recipes and the way biscuits are used. Gina Scaff, who used to cook for bass fishermen at Florida’s fabled Bienville Plantation, once made me some “Bienville Biscuits” by slicing biscuits in half, then pouring a beaten egg over them in a frying pan--sort of eggs and biscuits all in one. There were, she said, some Neanderthals who poured Karo syrup over the mixture before eating.
I agreed that was criminal, and allowed as how up north here our biscuit syrup, if any, comes from maple trees....     

Comments (19)

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from minigunner111 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

uhhh now im hungry.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from horseman308 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

They just released a new ranking of the fatest states in the country, with the Southern states at the top of the list. There's a reason for that - our food tastes better than everyone elses!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

For some reason food seems to taste better when cooked in the South, too. I'll take mine with sausage gravy, thank you.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Maybe that is why mom's biscuits tasted better than anything we get in KS. My home state was Florida.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Jackson wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I've been perfecting my biscuit making skills but have yet to come even close to my grandmother who used no measuring device or biscuit cutter and turned out the most perfect biscuits you have ever eaten.

Also horeman308's comment reminded me of the time some cousins from California came to visit and we had a big fish fry. As my grandfather came out to the deep fryer with a bowl of hushpuppy batter and started spooning it into the same grease where we had already fried the crappie and fries my cousin's wife looked on with big eyes and said, "Good God! They're even frying the bread!"

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from gman3186 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

aint nothing like a fresh homemade biscuit with alittle honey on it so good make you wanna slap yo momma

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

For dissing Martha White I am cancelling my subscription to F&S havent you heard they make better biscuits cakes and pies ok im pulling your leg but their support of bluegrass music is solid

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from troutrageous1 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Yes, as a "Yankee" even I'll admit that southern food tastes better. I'm glad I don't live there or else I'd weight half a ton (literally. That being said the one thing I cannot drink in different states (N,E,S, or W) is Coca-Cola. Not sure if it's bottled/canned differently, different water or what, but it never seems to taste the same as the stuff I get in PA.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from .88Mag wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Good biscuits are hard to beat.
My wife's cornbread made with "Bobs Red Mill" medium ground corn meal sopping wet with butter and "Rogers Golden Syrup" is like poetry on a plate. Mmmmm-mmmmmmm. I'll have to see what she can do with some of that southern flour.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Golden Eagle table syrup is made for a good cathead biscuit. Yellow Label ain't bad either. Beekeeper's Georgia Cotton Honey will make you wanna slap your grandma for not making 2 pans of biscuits!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

My favorite food,elk,makes my home state,Idaho,famous but I will admit,there's nothing I 'd rather eat it with than some fresh biscuts.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from yohan wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

First time here ,..mostly Im Norwegian so I grew up on a lot of boiled food (fish especially ) lamb pork and fowl,.etc etc with lefse ( thin poatao bread) that you put butter and sugar on ,. roll it up like a buretto,nd eat it ..
Grew up on that stuff which I though was good,.. still do ,..
But one lady friend whom I was seeing socially for a time was from S Carolna ,.
That woman was down a right wounder with corn bread and southern flower,.. Best corn bread and drop buscuits I ever had (anywhere) ever.
I have never stopped missing,.. the buscuits and the johnny cake.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from BamaCreekBum wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Ah....Makes me glad to live in Alabama....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Southern food taste better!? Have ya'll tried eaten them boiled peanuts?

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double D wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Those was a mean batch of chicken and biscuits, John. Though, that might have been the Sheep Dip talking.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

You know what else is a staple with southern biscuits?
Molasses, Country Ham, Gravy, Butter (not margerin) BUTTER 100% real butter, Fresh preserves, Apple Butter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Y'all are making me want to move back to Lakeland FL!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Any more SECRETS YA WANT TO GIVE UP !(lol)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FlyandFowlGA wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Syrup is for pancakes! Gotta put that gravy on my biscuits!. The best biscuit ever? Try the "Big Nasty" at Hominy Grill in charleston, SC. Huge biscuit, chicken breast smothered in gravy and cheddar...wow...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from horseman308 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

They just released a new ranking of the fatest states in the country, with the Southern states at the top of the list. There's a reason for that - our food tastes better than everyone elses!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from .88Mag wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Good biscuits are hard to beat.
My wife's cornbread made with "Bobs Red Mill" medium ground corn meal sopping wet with butter and "Rogers Golden Syrup" is like poetry on a plate. Mmmmm-mmmmmmm. I'll have to see what she can do with some of that southern flour.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from minigunner111 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

uhhh now im hungry.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

For some reason food seems to taste better when cooked in the South, too. I'll take mine with sausage gravy, thank you.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Jackson wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I've been perfecting my biscuit making skills but have yet to come even close to my grandmother who used no measuring device or biscuit cutter and turned out the most perfect biscuits you have ever eaten.

Also horeman308's comment reminded me of the time some cousins from California came to visit and we had a big fish fry. As my grandfather came out to the deep fryer with a bowl of hushpuppy batter and started spooning it into the same grease where we had already fried the crappie and fries my cousin's wife looked on with big eyes and said, "Good God! They're even frying the bread!"

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Golden Eagle table syrup is made for a good cathead biscuit. Yellow Label ain't bad either. Beekeeper's Georgia Cotton Honey will make you wanna slap your grandma for not making 2 pans of biscuits!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

My favorite food,elk,makes my home state,Idaho,famous but I will admit,there's nothing I 'd rather eat it with than some fresh biscuts.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from yohan wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

First time here ,..mostly Im Norwegian so I grew up on a lot of boiled food (fish especially ) lamb pork and fowl,.etc etc with lefse ( thin poatao bread) that you put butter and sugar on ,. roll it up like a buretto,nd eat it ..
Grew up on that stuff which I though was good,.. still do ,..
But one lady friend whom I was seeing socially for a time was from S Carolna ,.
That woman was down a right wounder with corn bread and southern flower,.. Best corn bread and drop buscuits I ever had (anywhere) ever.
I have never stopped missing,.. the buscuits and the johnny cake.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Maybe that is why mom's biscuits tasted better than anything we get in KS. My home state was Florida.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

For dissing Martha White I am cancelling my subscription to F&S havent you heard they make better biscuits cakes and pies ok im pulling your leg but their support of bluegrass music is solid

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from troutrageous1 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Yes, as a "Yankee" even I'll admit that southern food tastes better. I'm glad I don't live there or else I'd weight half a ton (literally. That being said the one thing I cannot drink in different states (N,E,S, or W) is Coca-Cola. Not sure if it's bottled/canned differently, different water or what, but it never seems to taste the same as the stuff I get in PA.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from BamaCreekBum wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Ah....Makes me glad to live in Alabama....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Y'all are making me want to move back to Lakeland FL!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from gman3186 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

aint nothing like a fresh homemade biscuit with alittle honey on it so good make you wanna slap yo momma

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double D wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Those was a mean batch of chicken and biscuits, John. Though, that might have been the Sheep Dip talking.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 86Ram wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

You know what else is a staple with southern biscuits?
Molasses, Country Ham, Gravy, Butter (not margerin) BUTTER 100% real butter, Fresh preserves, Apple Butter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Any more SECRETS YA WANT TO GIVE UP !(lol)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FlyandFowlGA wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Syrup is for pancakes! Gotta put that gravy on my biscuits!. The best biscuit ever? Try the "Big Nasty" at Hominy Grill in charleston, SC. Huge biscuit, chicken breast smothered in gravy and cheddar...wow...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Southern food taste better!? Have ya'll tried eaten them boiled peanuts?

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

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