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What are homemade southern-style biscuits supposed to be like?

Hi all,

Growing up we were never much of a baking family and the only biscuits I ever ate were from fast food restaurants or out of a paper tube - which I enjoyed the hell out of. I wonder if some real southerners can educate me on what a proper biscuit is supposed to be like? I've had all the major FF chain versions and all the grocery store frozen varieties, and it's hard for me to see how a biscuit can be better than the one from Hardee's. Is a real southern-style biscuit anything like it? Sorry for the fast/convenience food comparisons, but I figure these are widely known examples for comparison with the real thing.

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  1. Not a southerner (though born in Georgia) but was in Virginia once, Williamsburg to be precise, and we went to a nearby restaurant famous for Virginia ham. I couldn't eat the ham, it was so salty, but the biscuits! They looked like nothing at all, sort of flat, rectangular--but the flakiest biscuits I have ever had!

    7 Replies
    1. re: kleine mocha

      That had to have been the Old Chickahominy House. Those are baking powder biscuits with no leavening, that's why they're flat. They seem to be a lot more tender than buttermilk biscuits too. My in-laws are in Virginia Beach (I live in Richmond) and we go through Williamsburg on the way there--early, so I can get breakfast at OCH, heh heh.

      Hardee's is a very good representation of a classic southern biscuit, as is Popeye's.

      1. re: MandalayVA

        Yes, I could not remember the name but that was it exactly!

        1. re: MandalayVA

          "Those are baking powder biscuits with no leavening"

          In Mississippi we consider baking powder to be leavening.

          1. re: SallyW

            I think that in the *universe* -- at least THIS one -- we consider baking powder to be leavening. ;)

              1. re: SallyW

                I don't know, I don't do the baking thing. But I do know the biscuits are not leavened. :D

            1. re: SallyW

              ahh yeh; since when is baking powder NOT a leavening? And isn't the leavening the reason why most of us use baking powder?

        2. Hardee's biscuits are not bad at all- they were originally a Southern company- they're certainly better than any canned grocery store biscuit I've ever had. They are more or less the real thing- not the absolute best version around, but quite good nonetheless. Bojangles does the best fast food biscuit for my money, though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Naco

            I've never had Bojangles or Hardee's biscuits so my vote for what I've had is Popeyes.

          2. Here's a topic very dear to me! My mother made the best buttermilk biscuits I've ever had - since she has passed away, I doubt I'll ever have biscuits this good again. She cut them out with a round biscuit cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. They baked up to be about 2 inches high. They are extremely soft, flaky and tender - they pull apart in your hands when you apply hardy any pressure at all. They are not hard like hockey pucks, which is what I find a lot.

            I just did a search to see if I could find a good photo of what they look like and I found a pretty good one here: http://userealbutter.com/2009/01/04/f... Scroll down and look at the photo that is captioned: "Lots of Flakiness".

            They should be served piping hot straight from the oven -- when you pull them apart, a puff of steam should hit you in the face. They are served with butter, unless you are going to be separating them into halves and pouring milk/cream-based white country gravy over. Pull the biscuit apart, put a pat of butter inside, then replace the top and wait a minute for it to melt before eating. They are never served with honey - and they don't contain sugar as an ingredient. Sigh.

            Because of this memory, I cannot ABIDE refrigerator biscuits (Pillsbury, etc.) or biscuits I get in restaurants. Oh yeah, and my mom also left me with the same situation concerning her cornbread, but that is a different topic!

            4 Replies
            1. re: woodleyparkhound

              I agree with all of the above, except for never served with honey. If you haven't had a fresh buttermilk biscuit spread with honey butter (just butter and honey mixed together), you haven't lived. And now I'm drooling.

              1. re: thursday

                I'm a cane syrup girl, myself. halved, buttered, and drizzled with cane syrup. perfect.

              2. The best biscuit is the one topped with cream gravy and sausage/bacon/ground beef.

                Incidentally, some people swear by biscuits made from Bisquick mix.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  My mother made those Bisquick biscuits from the recipe on the box and they are the best I have ever had. They sound exactly like the ones woodleyparkhound describes. Tender and oh so good drenched in butter

                  My people are from the South if tha t makes a difference (Canton Province that is.)

                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Lot's of people who have grandma's who made the best biscuits. A lot of the time they just used the recipe on the White Lily flour bag.

                    DT

                  2. Any home-made buttermilk biscuit (unless you really can't cook) beats any tube or fast food, in my opinion. They really aren't hard to make, give it a try.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: visciole

                      I don't use buttermilk in my biscuits, however lots of heavy cream and they're the best I've ever had.

                    2. Often imitated...never duplicated!

                      1 Reply
                      1. Ah, so let me summarize here. It seems that Hardee's is a decent example of the type, but not close to being the best. The biscuit should not flake apart into seperable layers like the canned ones, but have a more crumby texture. And it should pull apart very easily.

                        What about the outside crust? Should it be crunchy or yielding?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                          Crunchy? No. It should have a flake like a pie crust, but crunchy isn't a term I'd ever apply to a good biscuit. Sometimes restaurants brush the tops of the biscuits with butter so they get a little crisp, but I find that it makes the biscuits unappealingly greasy.

                          The problem with most commercial biscuits, even good examples like Hardees, is that they're made in a mixer. No utensil ever touches my biscuits until they're being cut (and even then, I use a glass like my mama did!) -- I use my fingers to rub the butter into the flour, so that the butter isn't in bits but in little flat flakes and discs. My biscuits are VERY flaky, much flakier now than when I used to use a pastry cutter to mix in the fat.

                        2. The biscuit recipe from Sylvia Woods in the Sylvia's Restaurant Cook Book is superb. It does contain a trace of sugar. The secret is to let the biscuits proof in a warm place for a while before placing in the oven.

                          My every-day biscuits contain lots of butter, cut into lightly salted flour with a high baking powder content. I use the Cuisinart to cut in the butter; then I add just enough milk all at once and stop the machine the moment the dough becomes cohesive. I spread the dough out and just hack into squares (that way I don't double-handle the excess). The key is to handle the dough as little as possible. Warning: biscuits with a high butter content brown far more quickly than lard or Crisco biscuits. Expect these to be quite dark (dark amber to brown) when they're ready. Some Crisco biscuits come out white/tan.

                          The proper biscuit should have a very slightly crispy exterior that yields to a light touch. The insides have an almost cake-like moistness when up to 1/2 hour out of the oven; then it goes downhill. Biscuits, indeed, should be eaten fresh out of the oven.

                          Canned refrigerator biscuits are a salty abomination. The texture is more like white bread -- garbage -- than cake-like, the way biscuits should be.

                          A creamy ham gravy elevates the biscuits to new heights. A biscuit that's been sprinkled with a little sugar before baking makes a great sop for red-eye gravy. My idea of heaven is a biscuit with homemade peach preserves; that's really Southern.

                          1. My mother rarely, if ever, made rolled biscuits, but her drop biscuits were fabulous. (Not a southerner, btw, a Canadian). She whisked up the dough, but rather than roll it out, and risk handling it more, she'd just drop big dollops on the cookie sheet. They were quite irregular in shape, but they were great either drenched in butter, or, even better, dipped into her beef stew. Very tender, but they held their shape. Just the thing on a cold winter night!