Homemade Biscuits—Bisquick Substitute

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)

  1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in medium sized bowl.
  2. Cut in shortening. (I use my hands to rub the shortening into the flour).
  3. Add milk gradually, working until soft dough is formed.
  4. Turn out on slightly floured board and lightly “knead” for 30 seconds, enough to shape.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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