These biscuits are a staple item found in most Southern homes. They definitely were in my Mamaw’s kitchen. I don’t remember a day where she didn’t have a pan with some sitting on the stove.
I call them drop biscuits because they are not rolled out in any way. You take a ball of the dough, pat it back and forth in your hands, and then drop it into a pan and gently press down. They are the perfect crispy edge and soft center biscuit. I use this recipe if I want a biscuit to hold tomato gravy. The crispy edge and bottom are a wonderful combination with the liquid from the gravy. Once you are able to master the technique it is the quickest way to make biscuits. They don’t have to be rolled out on your counter and can easily be made without messing up more than your hands and a skillet. (That is if you use a large bowl to store your flour, I prefer to just use a separate bowl.) This recipe is mostly made from practice and watching my Mamaw make them. She never measured anything! She would always say about this much and just this cup (her coffee cup), or she would say add more if it feels like it needs some. One day I managed to have her stop and let me measure out how much she had scooped with her hand, so that I would have a better idea of the rough amount being used. I watched her carefully make these biscuits multiple times before I ever attempted them myself. And the first several times I tried were disastrous! So, rest at ease if you struggle with this technique. It is a skill you have to practice. Here are a few tips to help:
1.) You have to use Self-Rising flour! This is what will give your biscuits the little lift they will get. They need that leavening agent in the self-rising flour. If you don’t have any just add 1tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt to 1 cup all purpose flour.
2.) Sifting your flour helps to break up clumps, remove any bits from the last time you made biscuits, and loosen up the flour allowing it to mix easier. Yes, you can make these in the container you store flour in. It was very common to store your flour in a large bread bowl with a sifter and a tea towel over the top. When ever you wanted to make biscuits, you would scoop out a sifter worth of flour, press down on the flour in the bowl and create a well, then sift that flour into the well. You then only added a small amount of liquid at a time. Because the flour can only absorb so much liquid it won’t soak straight to the bottom of the bowl. Once you removed the soft dough, you are left with flour that would then be sifted and used again. As long as you don’t add any meat juices to this it remains sanitary. Most homes no longer store flour this way, which is why I simply sift into a mixing or bread bowl to use.
3.) After you mix in your shortening and milk clean your hands. It is easier to work the small amounts of dough into shape when your hands are clean and just lightly dusted with flour.
4.) While the pan isn’t super important how you place the biscuits is. You need to set them in the pan touching each other. Don’t leave large spaces in between. This will help the rise up instead of out. Any that are not touching will tend to spread thinner and get crispier than those sitting closely to their neighbor.
5.) Put the butter on top! This adds flavor! And I really shouldn’t have to tell you to use the real stuff. Real butter is better for you than the fake butters out there. That’s a hill I am willing to die on!
Making these biscuits will get easier and easier as you continue to make them, so don’t stress if it seems hard at the beginning. You will get better at it with practice. They are a nostalgic part of my childhood they I treasure. Whenever anyone mentions my Mamaw it usually involves her making these biscuits. I am definitely thankful I took the time to watch her make them, so that I can share this with my children and with y’all. Enjoy!
- 4 cups Self-Rising flour roughly
- 2 Tbsp Crisco shortening
- ¼ water
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2-4 Tbsp butter
- Sift self-rising flour into a large bowl. Make a small crater in the middle of the flour. Place Crisco into center of flour. In a cup mix water and buttermilk together. (The water is good if your buttermilk is really thick, you can omit the water if your buttermilk is thinner) Pour over the Crisco and mix with your hand. Slowly start adding in flour by pressing dough into the center and gently bringing flour from the sides into the center of the liquid and shortening mixture. You will be creating a soft dough. Don’t dig down into the flour, just gently pull flour in from the side of the well and mix into the shortening and milk mixture. When you have a soft dough ball, clean your hands thoroughly. Sprinkle a little flour over the top and pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough. Pat back and forth shaping them in your hands. Place the dough ball on a lightly greased pan, and gently press down with the back of two fingers. A flat cast iron works best, but you can use a pie tin. Continue by placing each ball into a circle around the pan’s edge and then working your way into the center until completely filled. Repeat the process above until the pan is filled. (It’s easier to work with small amounts at a time) Place a tiny dollop of salted butter on top of each biscuit. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375-400’F until lightly golden brown on top and bottom.