The Art of Homemade Biscuits

The Art of Homemade Biscuits

Story by Denise DuBois

He’d call her from the duck blind.

“Mama, I want some biscuits.”

She heard it all the time, and it’s no wonder. Mrs. Pat Waldrop’s biscuits are legendary. She learned everything she knows about homemade biscuits from her grandmama.

“She’d make biscuits three times a day,” Pat recalled as she sifted the flour for her famous biscuits.

Her grandmama ran a boarding house and cooked for everyone who was there.

“That’s just what you did. People cooked back in those days,” she said.

Pat learned to cook the soft, fluffy biscuits simply by watching her grandmama in the kitchen. She had a 25-pound sack of flour in the closet that she scooped out of. “She was always making cornbread or biscuits,” Pat continued. “It’s easy to remember the smell of them coming fresh out of the oven. They were golden brown and buttery.”

Pat is a true southern lady. She knows how to make biscuits like nobody’s business. She always starts by sifting her flour with a vintage sifter. None of those fancy kinds with a squeeze handle. You have to turn the crank.

“It makes the flour lighter and fluffier,” she said.

Pat likes to give old sifters and rolling pins to new brides as wedding gifts. She gives them in hopes that they will learn to make the southern delicacy. And she knows that the way to a husband’s heart is through his stomach.

After the flour, she adds Crisco. While there is a measurement to it, she eyeballs just the right amount on the spoon and pushes it off with her finger into the bowl. With a pastry blender, it’s time to cut the Crisco into the flour.

“Some people use their hands,” Pat said.

When it’s time to add buttermilk to the mixture, Pat cautioned that it’s important to add it to the center and then gently work the flour around. But be careful. This is the step where you can overwork the dough and have biscuits that come out flat and hard.

“Don’t venture out on your own. Do it the traditional way,” Pat said. “Stir a little hole in the center and work your flour into the milk. Make it into a ball where it’s all incorporated, and it’s all a little wet. It doesn’t have to be mixed perfectly. Do it real easy – not hard.”

At the right consistency, it’s time to roll out the biscuit dough.

She sprinkles a little sifted flour over a dish towel for easy cleanup. Then she dumps out the dough, sifts a little more flour over the top, and uses a wooden rolling pin to gently roll the dough. Her rolling pin might not have been passed down from generation to generation in her own family, but it’s certain to have rolled out many years of biscuits before Pat found it in a thrift store. It was the best kind of kitchen utensil.

When the dough is the right size, she cuts out the biscuits and lines them on a greased cookie sheet.

“Close together, and they’ll be softer,” she said as she laid them on the pan.

And just when you think all the dough is gone, she comes up with a little round ball of leftovers.

“You gotta make a little one. Grandmama used to always make a little one for me,” she said.

Waiting for them to cook is the hardest part. The smell that fills the house is absolutely heavenly.

Pat has been known to make biscuits on a whim. She makes them for her family and friends, but she also makes them just for herself.

As soon as they’re done, Pat pulls them out of the oven, covers one with some sawmill gravy (that she’s been making in an iron skillet while the biscuits bake), and sits down to eat.

And it’s just so obvious that every time she takes a bite, she’s transported back to the kitchen she remembers so well, a biscuit in her hand, and her grandmama by her side.



Make Mrs. Pat’s legendary biscuits yourself this Saturday morning. You can even freeze the dough, and pop the uncooked biscuits in the oven later.



2 c. White Lily Self Rising Flour, sifted

4 tbsp Crisco

1 c. Buttermilk

2 c. Shredded Cheese (optional)



Grease your baking pan really well with additional Crisco. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift flour into a bowl. Add Crisco into the center of the flour. Cut in Crisco with a pastry cutter (or a fork) until small balls are formed. Add buttermilk into the center of your flour/Crisco mixture. This is also the time to add cheese. Take a fork and start in the center of the mixture. Begin stirring in a circular motion until all is incorporated into a ball. Pour ball onto a floured surface. Sift a little flour onto your ball if the mixture is really wet. Turn the ball over about three times. Don’t overwork your dough or the biscuits will be tough. Pat the mixture into a circle. Cut dough with a biscuit cutter and place your biscuits, touching each other, onto your baking sheet. Use an iron skillet if you want your biscuits to be crisp. Put a little pat of butter on top of each biscuit and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.


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