Fall temperatures have arrived along with the sweet smells of biscuits baking in the oven. One of many fond memories of being a country girl was Mom, with her apron on, standing at the small agate top table, next to the warming oven, making those biscuits. This little table was special as she used it just for making biscuits and making dumplings. I can see her standing there, using that big old rolling pin, rolling dumplings and making pie crusts. There was a special large tin of flour and one for the “lard” used in her baking. No need to ask for the recipe as it was a handful of this and a sifter full of that.
I used to tell mom that I would never learn to cook because she could not give me the correct measurements! Her reply was “watch me and pay attention.” Now I find myself cooking the same way — some of this and some of that. Several months ago, my friend Carol and I went into an antique furniture store and there stood one of those small tables with the agate top. I just stood there looking at it with tears in my eyes remembering Mom standing at that table many times many years ago.
Today let’s do some of those great biscuits — both regular and sweet potato biscuits. Our farm potatoes were stored in a shed for the winter and Mom would send us to get a pan of small, sweet potatoes for the biscuits. The larger ones were kept for baking potatoes. We would wash them well and steam until tender. After they cooled, the skins were removed and ready for the biscuit making.
EASTERN SHORE SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
Mix 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes with 3/4 cup sugar, 2 1/4cups flour, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoon baking powder. Mix and add 5 tablespoons shortening and mix the dough well. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut out with a biscuit cutter or break off into small balls of dough 3/4 inch thick. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
MILLIE’S SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
Sift together 2 cups flour with 4 teaspoons baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Add 4 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup shortening to 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes while they are still warm. Then combine flour mixture and potato mixture together. Mix well and roll out on a floured surface into 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out and bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes.
Mix together 8 cups flour with 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup lard, and enough water to make a stiff dough — usually about 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Mix together and then beat 35 minutes or grind 5 to 8 times. Form into round biscuits and bake 10 minutes in a 500-degree oven, then reduce heat to 425 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.
There are very popular up and down the East Coast and so easy to make. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve 1/2 ounce (2 packages) active dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, set aside. Sift together 5 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 5 tablespoons sugar.
Cut into flour mix, 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter and 2 quarts buttermilk and add in the yeas. Knead lightly and roll out on a lightly floured board 1/5 inch thick. Cut with a 2- 3-inch biscuit cutter. Place on greased baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes. Do not let the biscuits rise. Plenty enough to feed a hungry crowd!