CPH Home at The University of West Georgia

Log On

Biscuits

"We baked biscuits early in the morning."

photo

Biscuits have long been a staple of the southern diet. Families baked biscuits for breakfast and ate them with butter, sorghum syrup, gravy, or jellies. Children and those who worked away from home during the day typically ate the leftover biscuits with meat or butter for the noon-time meal.

"Well, we baked biscuits early in the morning before we set to school. And my mom started teaching me how to make biscuits when I was too small to stand on the floor. She had to put me up in a chair."

photo

Many women recall that their introduction into the world of baking came through the preparation of biscuits, almost as a rite of passage. Mothers and grandmothers taught young girls how to mix and prepare biscuits, measuring by "pinches" or throuhg the "feel" of the dough.

"[In] Minnesota and up in that area, they made a 'hard' flour. And, for southern baking, you need to use this 'soft' flour. The hard flour is made from wheat grown in the Midwest. And the wheat they grow in this area, I know the soft flour is made from it."

photo

While some families grew their own wheat on the farm and had it ground at the local grist mill, most women bought plain flour at the general store. White Lily and Martha White, both produced in the South, continue to rank among the most popular flours. On the farm, cooks used lard (from hogs), which produces a flakier texture. In more recent times, Cristco shortening has functioned as a more readily available substitute for lard. Women have traditionally used buttermilk for biscuits, which they churned at home or purchased from the store. Before self-rising flour gained popularity, baking soda served as a primary leavening agent.

"Usually [school] lunches consisted of ham or sausage, a biscuit filled with syrup, a baked potato, and occasionally a teacake."

"I love them with butter and honey or with gravies."

photo

"The preserves stayed on the table all the time, 'cause Mama made biscuits all the time."

Cheese biscuits are a popular variation of traditional biscuits.

"It was always a treat to visit the dining hall. For years, the food was cooked on big black iron stove that burned wood. Bob Jackson...was an excellent cook and a fine person. He would split hot biscuits and fill them with butter and sugar for us or he would offer us teacakes."

photo

"Mother could cook the best biscuits. She did not roll 'em out, she would pinch em' all in a big 'ol bread tray."

"We always had sorghum syrup on the stove, and put butter in it...and cook it down to like it was kind of candy. And it was so good over the biscuits."

Many Southerners still enjoy biscuits or cornbread with a plate of vegetables.