I’ve complained about missing American foods, but I’m learning how to either do without or substitute. Here’s a recipe I’ve worked out for biscuits, to make up for the fact that Bisquick costs around €5 for a (very) small box. I’ll post a pic of the biscuits next time I make them.
Baking Powder Biscuits
(from a 1933 Recipe)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. vegetable shortening*
about 3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk—see update below)
- Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in medium sized bowl.
- Cut in shortening. (I use my hands to rub the shortening into the flour).
- Add milk gradually, working until soft dough is formed.
- Turn out on slightly floured board and lightly “knead” for 30 seconds, enough to shape.
- Roll 1/2 inch thick and cut with a small biscuit cutter. If you like, you can brush the tops with butter before baking, but it’s not necessary.
- Bake on ungreased sheet (I use baking paper) in a 400 degree (Farenheit… around 205 Celsius) oven for 12-15 minutes (until lightly browned on top).
We like small biscuits, so my “cutter”** is about 1 1/2 inches wide. These are equally great served with gravy or with butter and jam or honey. Makes about 24.
* I’ve found a substitute for Crisco, as well, since that’s another “American” product that I can only find at a specialty store for a premium price (again, nearly €5 for a small can). It’s called “Palmin Soft” and is available in the refrigerated section, near the butters and margarines. I tried lard (shudder) first, because I knew butter would be too rich, and I knew cooks used to make biscuits with lard, but it had a strong pork smell (like country ham) so I had to ditch it. Palmin, however, works great. It also comes in stick-type form, but this type is most like Crisco—just refrigerated whereas Crisco is not.
**It’s practically impossible to find a biscuit cutter here! All the cookie cutters I’ve found are way too big, so I recycled a laundry detergent cap (clean, of course)—it’s about 1 1/2 inches wide and has a decent cutting edge, unlike glassware, which usually pinches the dough rather than cutting it, which keeps the biscuits from rising properly. I poked a couple holes in the top so the biscuits would come out easily. I’ve also had to make do without a rolling pin—don’t like the traditional ones with handles, and haven’t found a long, tapered one like I’m used to, so I’m simply patting the dough thin on a floured countertop.
UPDATE: Since posting this recipe I’ve made a couple changes. First, I found a non-refrigerated Crisco substitute that’s basically “plant fat” which works great, and is cheaper than the Palmin. Next, I broke down and bought a rolling pin, since even though I don’t care for the handles I get a better rise from rolled biscuits—these little suckers are almost as tall as they are wide! Also, I’ve found that you can substitute buttermilk for the lowfat milk I usually use, and they taste great! You may need a bit more of the buttermilk, though.