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Beaten Biscuits

  • p

This biscuit is very labor intensive. I'm talking HARD labor! I used to make them to go with paper thin slices of country ham. You beat the dough with a rolling pin for up to half an hour. I used a rubberized slege hammer one time. I understand they can be made in a food processor.
Has anyone made them using both methods? I don't know if I have the stamina to do it the old way anymore. If the food processor works well, I'd try it. They're wonderful little biscuits and keep a very long time.

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  1. Beaten biscuits are my favorite thing in the world. I have spent 3 years trying to come up with a means of making beaten biscuits that I won't regret the next day.

    I'm amazed you've gotten them to work with a rolling pin, was it marble? I've usually had to use the side of an axehead (per my grandmother) and two people.

    I tried the food processor method and while it's not bad, it's not really a beaten biscuit. Too tough and not light enough.

    There is a rolling pressing machine that will make beaten biscuit, and periodically they appear on ebay (and one of these days I'm going to buy one). This machine is what they use in Annapolis at the only restaurant I've ever been to that had decent beaten biscuits (and who's name I've since forgotten). It looks like a clothes wringer, and there's a picture of one in John Shields Chesapeake bay cookbook.

    regardless, I have the stamina problem too (despite being a drummer, I just don't have the arm strength), but I find that if I can convince someone else to help we can usually muscle through it (much to the chagrin of our downstairs neighbors).

    Let me know if you find a solution.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ben f

      i recently finished the glossary portion of a cookbook and was fascinated by the descriptions of beaten biscuits i found in my research. it talked about two kinds of beaten biscuits, every day beaten biscuits, in which the dough got taken out to a wood stump and beaten about 300 times by hand with a wooden stick, or sunday beaten biscuits when the dough was beaten 500 times with a stick to create a lighter, fluffier biscuit.

      oh, would that i could be there when you made some! i just can't imagine the work involved!

      1. re: ben f

        Yes, the rolling pin was marble. It eventualy broke! I've seen recipies that talk about using a mallet, but I don't know what kind. The rubber sledge-like hammer worked pretty well. The idea of having friends chip in with the pounding is terrific. Unfortunately, I have downstairs neighbors too. It makes quite a racket.

        1. re: ben f
          Pat Goldberg

          Would a pasta machine work?

          1. re: Pat Goldberg

            I don't think so. The two wheels of a beaten biscuit machine are grooved, and run together like two cogs - albeit cogs with rounded rather than squared grooves.

            Still it'd be worth trying.

        2. hi. never tried these type of biscuits. can you explain the difference bet. regular biscuits and what the beating of the dough does to the final product. thanks.

          1. Haven't done it myself, but I have seen a reference (in Joy of Cooking?) to repeatedly putting the dough through a meat grinder, using the disc with the largest holes. Probably still takes quite a bit of effort, but doesn't disturb the neighbors.

            1. To quote scripture: "spare the rod, spoil the biscuit."

              1. How about a brief rundown for those of us who don't come from the Beaten Biscuit Culture and don't know what the heck you're talking about.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sharuf

                  Sorry to leave you hanging. I'm not a member of the "Beaten Biscuit Society" either. I just like 'em.

                  They're a southern specialty often served with country ham. They're not fluffy like most biscuits. In fact, I've had them turn out like what I think hardtack must be like. You bake them until they're barely tan, not brown. They come out sort of hard and crisp, but light. (At least my best effort was like that). I'm really not an expert. To split them open you should use a fork, the way one opens an English muffin.

                  It's a very old timey thing. Witness the recipes that will say to beat the dough on a stump with the flat of an axe. I'm beginning to think putting the dough through a meat grinder might be worth of try.

                2. At the tea house I go to, they use what they call a biscuit break (looks like a miniature clothes wringer to me) which apparently works great for them. I've also read about the food processor method but haven't tried it yet (mine is too small).

                  As for what they are for those that asked, they are a southern delicacy, traditionally served with ham slices (Virginia or country depending on where you are). If you've not grown up eating them, you might not like them. They're not light like a "regular" biscuit. They're, to me, dry (think scones) and on the hard side. But with a piece of ham and some lemonade or tea, you've got good eatin'.

                  1. My Joy of Cooking even provides a poem to go along with them. It recommends 10 times through a meat grinder, and folding over the dough often.

                    Howard Weeden in "Bandanna Ballads"

                    "Two hundred licks is what I give
                    for home folks, never fewer
                    An'if I'm 'specting company in,
                    I gives five hundred sure!"

                    peace and strong biceps, jill

                    1. My Mom used to make them and was considered to be an authority. At one time she was interviewed by the Louisville, KY, Courier-Journal and her recipe and method were published. You might search their online archives or contact the newspaper directly. She served them every Christmas Eve with paper-thin slices of country ham. A beaten biscuit bears no resemblance to a buttermilk biscuit, and even less to one a them thangs out of that cylindrical package you whomp on the counter to open...well, except for that first whomp, of course.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Cristina

                        Once you've made (or managed to buy) your beaten biscuits, don't forget that the country ham you'll be putting in the middle is very thin slices of a ham that's been baked, not slices that have been fried. Baking the ham gives a velvety texture, particularly cool with the crumbly soft/hard texture of the biscuits.

                        Baking the ham is a mess---my mom pays somebody else to do it for her.

                        1. re: Cristina

                          That's quite a legacy, Cristina. Have you made them? I had to laugh (wryly!) the first time I made them. It said to beat the dough until it was "blistered". We were both blistered by that time!

                          My hat's off to your mom, tackling these biscuits during the hectic holidays. Whatta woman!

                          1. re: Pat Hammond

                            My Mom is a legend...not only did she make her own beaten biscuits during the holidays, but she also made as many as 8,000 Christmas cookies a year, plus homemade fruitcakes (soaked in bourbon for a year before they were served). Her Christmas cookies were the stuff of dreams: 3-dimensional sugar cookies in multitudes of shapes (angels, clowns, Santas, Christmas stockings, toys) decorated impeccably with colored sugars, royal frosting, coconut, and sprinkles; genoise squares soaked in rum and covered with apricot conserve, 2" square ammonia crackers, each with its own piped candy cane on top, a chocolate filled cookie (half filled with rum-flavored chocolate and half filled with mint-flavored chocolate; you could tell which was which because one had a pecan half pressed into the top and the other a walnut half), biscotti de regina rolled in sesame seeds, thin chocolate gingerbread cookies in the shape of reindeer (with a cinnamon redhot on each nose~these were Rudolph days) and angels...I could go on forever. She started making and freezing the numerous cookie doughs in October, and the first Saturday in December her kitchen turned into a cookie factory, with us kids as her little cookie elves. The finished cookies were stored in air-tight tin 50-lb lard containers until Christmas Eve (and god help anybody who snitched one). Some cookies were packaged in clear cling-wrap, tied with red ribbon, and used as ornaments on a tiny "cookie tree" strung with white strands of lights, the first we'd ever seen. Christmas Eve there was a huge party at our house and the cookies were but ONE of the homemade highlights of the feast. And, of course, every guest got a big plateful of cookies to take home. My Mom...god bless her. She might be the original Chowhound.

                            1. re: Cristina

                              God love your Mother's heart - what an effort! She - or you - should write a cookbook of her recipes. D.

                              1. re: Cristina

                                Cristina, that gave me goosebumps. Thanks so much for posting.

                          2. j
                            Jeremy Newel

                            I had never eaten nor heard of a beaten biscuit until I made them myself using a recipe published in the old Cuisinart-associated magazine "The Pleasures of Cooking". They turned out very well, light and crispy, tender but not crumbly. A guest (from the South) was very impressed that I had made them at all, and was very complimentary, but then a guest would be! I have made them quite a few times. If anyone is interested, the recipe appears in "The Pleasures of Cooking", Vol. I, No. 12, page 38. I found the pictures to be helpful, since I had no idea what these biscuits would be like. I use them, halved, as a base for bite-sized hors d'oeuvres.

                            1. This is an old topic but... there are at least two types of beaten biscuit machines. A wooden one with "fluted" rolers and one with metal rollers. I found one with wooden rollers but did not know at the time what it was. That was several months ago. When I returned to purchase it, it was gone. The ones with metal rollars come up for sale rarely but on occasion. I just located two of them and purchased both of them. Turned out to be a 2000 mile, round trip, but worth the effort. One was a hand crank model and the other was the same model that had been motorized. I am going to try to make "beaten biscuits" as soon as I can clean up at least one of the machines. Both are in good working order. I will attach photos when I learn how!