Biscuits 1

Ah, comfort food.

You have no idea how much we were looking forward to the Fourth of July. First, we were going to drive to my parents’ house for our annual Red, White, and Blue Breakfast–an event that started after Momma handed Daddy the business end of a sparkler and we had to come up with a fireworks alternative.

Then we were going to drive to Jeff’s hometown for the Fourth of July Family Reunion. Imagine hundreds of people gathered near a huge oak tree with so many grills going that they use refrigerators powered by hundreds of yards of extension cords to store the uncooked meat. Older people explaining how everyone’s related and children underfoot. Taking your turn shooting the potato cannon–a PVC pipe that, with a little pump action, will blast a raw baking potato into the middle of next week.

And after a day with family, we were going to drive to the small-town festival where we got engaged. It’s a sign post on blacktop, but the entire city raises money 364 days of the year for the fireworks show, and it is spectacular. People drive in for miles.

But Jeff got sick. Very sick. The nurse told me to restrict his meals to white flour, which was quite a blow to a man with visions of slathered ribs dancing in his head.

So, I baked him some Angel Biscuits.

Angel biscuits are the biscuit/roll hybrid that’s been a staple of Southern ladies’ luncheons for at least 60 years. They are light, foolproof (thanks to three leaveners), and the yeast gives them a unique flavor. Plus, the dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, so you can bake them off as needed.

While I was looking for the right recipe, I found Kitty Crider’s “Anything For Mother,” a column the food editor wrote about flying to visit her dying mother, a Southern cook who had lost her appetite. Kitty offers to cook anything. Her mother sits silently for a long time, sips her tea, and settles on angel biscuits. It’s a beautiful piece. One worth reading.

Just like Kitty, I burned the first batch. But the second batch was delicious. Jeff ate enough to take his antibiotic, and I ate enough for a third-world country.

After the jump, you’ll find the Angel Biscuit recipe from The Blue Willow Inn Restaurant in Social Circle, Ga. These biscuits are true comfort food–easy to prepare and proven to comfort the sick, soothe the soul, and serve as an excellent vehicle for both butter and love, which are often the same.

Angel Biscuits

Slightly adapted from Louis and Billie Van Dyke’s “The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking”

Makes 12 to 15 biscuits

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons warm water
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or your fingertips.
  4. In a small bowl, soften the yeast in warm water, and stir until dissolved.
  5. Mix with the buttermilk, and combine the mixture with the dry ingredients. Mix until a dough ball forms.
  6. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter.
  7. Place the biscuits on a buttered baking pan, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.