Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Little Yellow Box: Favourite Recipe #2 - Baking Powder Biscuits... by Barbara (Ruth)

I went for a walk this evening and was overwhelmed with the feeling of autumn - the air was cool, the stores in my neighbourhood had little gourds and pumpkins and pots of mums, the leaves were falling, and the air smelled clean. I had a sudden urge to bake something and make hearty soup.

This urge fit in with my blog series nicely, as one of my favourite recipes from my mother's little yellow box is for baking powder biscuits. I did some googling to find out how old the recipe is, and I found a really neat one dating back to 1922 that used the exact same ingredients but in larger quantities to feed a group of cowboys! Wikipedia tells me that biscuits became popular in the early 19th century because they're filling and don't use yeast, which was expensive and hard to store.

Whatever the history, they are a big part of Henderson family dinner time memories. Mum used to make amazing stews and soups, and of course we had biscuits with those. We had biscuits after school for a snack. Dad and I even had biscuits with molasses as a treat after dinner. Really, there were few meals that couldn't be made even better by biscuits.

My sister Elizabeth is now the Queen of biscuits in our family. I'm not sure what she does, but hers are lighter, tastier, and bigger than anyone else's. Nonetheless, I popped a batch in the oven tonight - it's hard to wreck this recipe, so I hope you give it a try.

I remember when I asked my mother to write this down. "Well I don't know how I make them Ruthie, I just make them!" What follows it what she wrote down. (With some edits from yours truly.)

Baking Powder Biscuits
2 C Flour
1 C Liquid (2/3 milk, 1/3 oil)
3 tsp Baking Powder
Approx 1/2 tsp or a bit more of salt (today we might say, salt to taste)
I don't use sugar, but you can add a touch if you want (I did, about a tablespoon)
(Also, you can add seasonings as you wish - we used to add caraway seeds... yum...)

Mix the dry in a bowl - add the wet and stir only as much as necessary. Spoon into muffin tins or place on cookie sheet. (Note - I spray with Pam. Mum didn't, as she thought the dough was greasy enough without it.)

Recipe can be cut in half ok. If you want to be fancy - eg shortcake - you can use solid margarine (she never EVER bought butter... now I wonder what solid margarine was... ew...) instead of oil and cut it in with a pastry blender as if you were making a pie. Then add the milk and mix gently. Grated cheese may be added - cut back on the oil.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or so (I only needed 15 mins. 13 would have been perfect.)

This makes about 12 small-med biscuits. You can roll them out (gently) and use a biscuit cutter, but I just use a spoon and drop into the muffin tin. Also, a word of caution - these get stale quickly, so freeze whatever you don't eat right away.


  1. Biscuits are on my list of things to make soon. I remember baking them as a teenager, but rarely since then. I don't know why not -- homemade biscuits are the best!

  2. I love homemade biscuits! I can't wait to try this recipe...Thanks!