Family talents passed down from generation to generation are as timeless as apple pie. My Grandma Ruth is an excellent baker and gardener. My mom often complains about not getting the “green thumb” or baking gene passed onto her. I know that these skills can skip generations; however, the baking and gardening genes also blew past me. I like to THINK that I can bake. I enjoy baked goods as much as the next person, sometimes more so. Apple and peach crisps are my jam. Baking powder biscuits are not. Recipe directions are like a roadmap that I can easily follow, but finesse and patience in baking is key. It took time to mature and learn these lessons, but at times, I still fancy myself a baker. So this summer I attempted a huge feat, re-creating my grandma’s BAKING POWDER BISCUITS, from scratch.
How’d that go?
I’d love to tell you that the process was seamless and the end result was fabulous, but you can guess where this is going. I even had the where-with-all to have a friend stop by with her fancy camera to capture the magic. It NEEDED to be documented. Evidence for my mom that I nailed the recipe on my first try. I imagined fluffy, buttery biscuits warm from the oven dripping with real butter and jam. Or thick and creamy beef strew poured over the top, filling my belly with hearty goodness. A stop at the grocery store also yielded strawberries and whipped cream for Strawberry Shortcakes! This was going to be amazing! I will tell you this, if you want to re-create a family recipe, you may want the “expert” there to assist.
What, like it’s hard?
Yes, hard as a rock. Err, hard as a hockey puck actually. I followed the directions to a “t.” Heaping teaspoons of baking powder. Cold butter. Minimal kneading/touching of the dough. The raw biscuits looked promising, but soon my dreams of soft and yummy baked goods were shattered. Flattened actually. I read and re-read the recipe. What happened? When in doubt, Google. I read many stories of failure from energetic and hopeful women like me that were defeated as soon as the oven timer rang. And I learned a few things. Well two VERY important things actually. For the perfect biscuits, one must ensure the baking powder is FRESH! Well crap, mine was probably a year old. Check. Second, lard is a much better option than butter. Noted, with a look of disgust.
Where do you find lard?
I’m not sure. I am also not sure if I will ever attempt this feat again. It is a lot of work. The aftermath is messy. I HATE doing dishes. You get the idea. On the bright side, even a hard-as-a-hockey-puck biscuit can be delicious under a sea of sugar-laden strawberries and whipped cream. There was some crunch, but I told myself it was added “texture.” I had to admit defeat as a baker to my mom over the phone. I could almost hear her smile come through the phone line. That knowing smile that said “I told you so.” So I put the recipe card back in the box and decided I would only enjoy the biscuits made with the loving hands of my Grandma Ruth, which will bring her more joy than my re-creation anyway.
What are your favorite family recipes? Do you have any stories of recipe failures?