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Jan 15, 2008 02:34 PM

Southern Biscuits: question about the flour

I have been wanting to make southern style biscuits a la Edna Lewis. I have now heard from many sources that White Lily flour is ideal because it is ground from winter wheat which has less gluten. Well I live in Canada and this brand is hard to get. My lovely husband came home with a product he found in our local grocery: Swans Down Cake Flour, which claims on its packaging to be made from soft winter wheat, like White Lily. In the ingredients, there is Wheat flour, chlorine, benzoyl peroxide, niacin,iron, thiamine and riboflavin. Do you think this stuff is similar enough to White Lily to be a good substitute? I'm a litle thrown off by the "Cake" part. Thanks!

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  1. Well, I know cake flour measures differently ... hey, why not try it? Cake flour generally produces a very tender product, which I believe is what you're after. The way I've always made biscuits, you start with less flour & add as needed ... I say experiment away!

    Can you get White Lily mail order?

    1. I would start out by using the cake flour 50/50 with all purpose. In my experience, the big difference in biscuit outcomes has more to do with technique than type of flour used.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca

        Seems to me the "adapted" Edna Lewis recipe in a recent Gourmet mag calls for a mixture of AP flour and cake flour. You might see if you can find that - it's the issue focusing on Southern food, and there are biscuits on the cover.

        You can get White Lily from several online sources, if you're not in a big hurry...or just get some and keep it around. We can't get it here on the west coast anymore, either.

      2. White Lily is quite soft. I use White Lily as a substitute for cake flour. Ha.

        I've heard of adding in cornstarch for some of the flour, too.

        1. DH is from Tennessee but we live in AZ and can't White Lily flour either unless we want to pay for shipping (which we have sometimes done). For Christmas, homemade biscuits and ham are traditional Southern favorites. What to do? I finally found the answer on The recipe there for biscuits uses a combo of cake and all purpose flour. It works. Give it a try.

          4 Replies
          1. re: rexsreine

            Thank you, rexsreine! I have to now try them. By the way, the blue cheese burger looks delish too.

            1. re: rexsreine

              I really appreciate the link to that website, but where do they post the recipes on those blogs?....I go to them almost everytime I see a link to a good tip or recipe, and there's never an easy way, if any, to find the recipe....just a great long blog entry that doesn't help one little bit. rexsreine, are you SURE there's a recipe there? All I could find was a list of recipes, but no recipes or links to them anywhere.


                1. re: dolores

                  Thanks, Dolores, for posting the link. I am a technological ignoramus and never manage to do that quite right. And, like you, have wondered why White Lily hasn't expanded their market. King Arthur certainly has had success with this. Maybe the company is unaware of the demand for its product or perhaps they'd have to charge an unreasonable retail price to offset the shipping.

            2. Thanks for all the suggestions! I now have many options to experiment with. I greatly appreciate all the help, I dearly miss good Southern biscuits, and look forward to trying to recreate them!

              2 Replies
              1. re: moh

                I can't get White Lily products regularly where I live either, but have had very good results with various off-the-shelf self-rising flours, all of which contain flour that's lower-gluten than all purpose. It's also good for pancakes, cobblers, some muffins, and other things.

                I agree with others who've said that successful biscuit-making is more about technique than brand of flour. A wet dough, very light hand with mixing/kneading shaping, and quick oven temp are key. And buttermilk, for a soft crumb and that tang.

                1. re: sfmiller

                  With all the wannabee Southern Biscuit makers up North, I'm very surprised White Lily doesn't ship here.