The word biscuit is a perfect example of countries “being divided by a common language.” 😉 Here in the U.S. — most especially in the South — biscuit generally refers to a quick bread (something rather like what those in the U.K. would refer to as a scone), whereas across the pond, in the U.K. (and other places), biscuit refers to something more akin to what we in the U.S. would refer to as a cookie.
However, there are many variations on the savory (as opposed to sweet) biscuits, including one that uses yeast. As I have some yeast I’m trying to use up, when planning our Easter Brunch, I decided it would be as good a time as any to try making Angel Biscuits.
There are a couple of things that set Angel Biscuits apart from more traditional quick bread biscuits:
- Angel Biscuits use yeast.
- The dough can be made ahead of time and kept in the ‘fridge, to be used as needed, for three to four days — they don’t have to be shaped and baked immediately.
When I told Mom that I was going to make up Angel Biscuits for our Easter Brunch, she told me that she had my maternal grandmother’s — Ma-Maw’s — recipe for Angel Biscuits if I wanted it.
Well, of course I did!
Mom then shared the story behind Ma-Maw’s Angel Biscuits with me: Ma-Maw made Angel Biscuits instead of yeast rolls because she didn’t feel she had the “knack” to make the yeast rolls that Mom and I make. Mom offered to show Ma-Maw how to make yeast rolls (Mom said, “Momma, if I show you how to just once, you’ll be able to make them and they’ll come out perfect, every time!”), but Ma-Maw said “Why should I learn to when you’ll make them for me when I want some?”
Mom couldn’t argue with Ma-Maw about that. 😉
Now, truth be told, I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember eating Ma-Maw’s Angel Biscuits. 😦 I’m sure I did, but that’s not one of the things I specifically remember eating at her table. I do have many memories of being with Ma-maw — and with Pa-paw, too, even though he died when I was quite young (and he was, too, bless him — he didn’t make it to 60 😦 ) — and of meals shared.
Mom dictated Ma-Maw’s Angel Biscuit recipe to me, and on Good Friday, with a great deal of excitement, I prepared the dough.
The dough mixes together as quickly and easily as the quick bread version of buttermilk biscuits, but unlike most yeast breads, it doesn’t require any kneading — you mix it up, then stick it in the ‘fridge ’til you’re ready to bake it.
Now, Ma-Maw’s recipe doesn’t mention anything about letting the dough rise before you bake it. However, with most yeast breads, you give the dough time to rise before baking it. Other Angel Biscuit recipes I’ve seen refer to giving the biscuits time to rise before baking.
Mom and I conferred, and we both agreed that allowing the biscuits time to rise before baking would be good. And so I did…but I can’t tell that they rose, so I don’t know if they really need that time or not. At some point, I plan on making a batch and allowing some of them time to rise, others not, and see if I can determine any difference.
UPDATE: When I’ve made these since, I’ve not rolled out and cut the dough, but just shaped the rolls with my hands — rather as I would yeast rolls or biscuits — and just let them set out a bit in a warm spot while the oven heats up — and they are DIVINE! A tasty, lovely cross between yeast rolls and buttermilk biscuits 🙂
When we sat down to brunch, I was anxious and excited about how the Angel Biscuits turned out. I gave Mom a taste and asked her how it compared to Ma-maw’s biscuits. I was incredibly thrilled when she tasted it, considered, smiled, and said, “They taste just like Momma’s.” 🙂
I like to think Ma-maw’s angel was smiling down on us. 🙂 (Go on, give it a listen — you know you want to. I just love this song, and this is a nice presentation of it.)
And here it is — my Ma-maw’s Angel Biscuit recipe. You can’t ask for it to be any easier, and it tastes as yummy as smells. 🙂
Ma-Maw’s Angel Biscuits (Makes about 2 1/2 dozen biscuits)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored Crisco; Ma-maw’s recipe says you can use half shortening and half butter, if you like)
- 1 package (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm (from the tap) water
- 2 cups buttermilk
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).
- Cut in shortening into dry ingredients.
- Dissolve yeast in warm water.
- Stir yeast/water mixture into buttermilk.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and dump in the yeast/buttermilk mixture. (“Dump” was Ma-maw’s verb of choice, and it fits 😉 )
- Stir until moistened. Cover and chill. (I divided it into two portions — large-sized used margarine tubs are perfect.)
When ready to use, roll out on lightly floured surface to a 1/2″ thickness. (The dough is soft and sticky; I simply flipped it on the surface so both sides were coated with flour and patted/shaped it to the appropriate thickness.) Cut with 2″ biscuit cutter.Pinch off some dough and shape each roll with your hands.
- Place on lightly greased/sprayed cookie sheet/baking pan.
- Allow to rise in a warm place, lightly covered with a lint-free cloth, for
1 to 1 1/2 hours.20 to 30 minutes. (See comments above regarding rising time.)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Bake until done, about 12 minutes.
- Dough will keep in ‘fridge for 3 to 4 days.
They smell so yummy as they bake — and you can feel the Angels watching over you. 🙂