Good Lard! A Better Biscuit

Okay, since November I’ve continued to play with my biscuit recipe and process. So here is a better and more convenient version of my earlier recipe.

After reading some historic cookbooks I decided to try lard as the fat instead of butter and shortening, and I must admit, it made a big difference in texture and form (rose higher and was easier to handle). Tasted just as good, too.

To make things easier I pre-measured my own “self-rising” biscuit mix, which basically means I stir together 2 cups flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 scant tsp. salt together and put the mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator until I am ready to bake. The refrigerator keeps the ingredients cool, which is a plus when baking biscuits. I’m also keeping my lard there, too.

So here is what biscuit making looks like for me now.

What you’ll need (plus you’ll need a biscuit cutter, which I forgot to put in the picture):

What You Need for Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450.Dump pre-measured dry ingredients into the food processor and pulse a couple of times just to mix them. Then scoop out 5 tbs. of lard and put those into with the dry mix.

Adding Lard</

Pulse the dry ingredients and lard until it looks like this, more or less no lard lumps bigger than a pea.

Texture with Lard Cut In

Put the mixture into a mixing bowl and pour a scant cup of plain yogurt on top (you can also use buttermilk, but this is what I had). Then mix it with a fork or spoon until the mixture comes together to make a shaggy dough that looks like this:

Shaggy Dough

If the mix is too dry to come together, add a tablespoon or two more yogurt.Dusting

Dust flour onto your kneading surface (John bought this handy skimmer that works really well for dusting). Dump your dough onto the surface and knead it no more than 10 times. To avoid handling the dough too much (and sticky fingers), you can use a bench scraper to fold the dough onto itself.

Layering Dough

I love the bench scraper. It also helps with cleaning the flour off of the counter later. Add a little more flour to the surface and your hands if the dough is too sticky.

Roll or flatten dough with your hands until it is about ¾ inch thick. The marble pastry roller stays cool (thanks for the tip, Beth!) and because it is heavy only requires a few strokes to get to the dough to the right thickness.

If you want biscuits that rise in the oven, cut them with a sharp, stiff, straight-sided biscuit cutter. Dip the cutter in flour and then push straight down on the dough with no twisting. I finally broke down and bought some good biscuit cutters at William Sonoma. Oh, and once a biscuit is cut, gently place it on the ungreased baking sheet – no shaping the biscuit to make it more round, or whatever, since that will gum up the sides and keep it from rising evenly. (I had a few biscuits that rose on one side and not other because I was too handsy.)

Brush the tops of the unbaked biscuits with milk or melted butter. I used melted butter this time. (John got me this silicone brush for Christmas and I love it – no more bristles on my food and MUCH easier to clean).

Brushing with butter

Pop those babies in the oven (middle rack) and don’t open the door until the tops are good and brown (ovens are different, so times are different). 8-10 minutes? While biscuits are baking, put together a mix of the dry ingredients and put them back in the refrigerator so they’ll be ready for next time.The finished biscuits should look something like this:


Nothing healthy about lard, but it sure made for some flake-tastic biscuits. Oh, and if you can, buy lard where people buy lard frequently so you know you are getting fresh stuff. Our nearby Hispanic grocery replenishes its stock often. My friends in Indy and in Arkansas shouldn’t have to worry too much about whether the lard at their stores is fresh. If you live in New England, you may want to check the date.


24 Responses to “Good Lard! A Better Biscuit”

  1. January 14, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I love your cooking entries! And an award goes to you for the best blog post title ever on this one. : )

    I’m going to try your biscuits soon so I can put chocolate gravy in my new pitcher from Duane.

    Oh, I have one of those silicone brushes and I LOVE it.

  2. January 14, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Those look delicious! Lard is what makes my quiche crust so yummy and flaky 🙂

  3. January 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I so ate 3 of these this weekend.

  4. January 15, 2008 at 5:57 am

    These look great but I would need to add two Lipitor to the ingredient list.

  5. January 17, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Troy…now you should have my e-mail address! Thanks for wanting to help with my Change Angel fundraiser.
    The biscuits look heavenly. Someone bought us a marble pastry roller that is made to be refrigerated before use and a silicone brush. I love both since I love to bake. I can’t wait to try your biscuit recipe. I can see the butter melting on one now. Mmm mmm mm!!

  6. 6 Dann
    December 20, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for posting your recipe. This recipe is fabulous! We enjoy these biscuits with butter and sorghum, butter and honey, or once a month, I’ll make southern-style “scorch gravy” to ladle over the split biscuit halves with fried eggs and sausage. Very fattening, but, oh so delicious. I will open a breakfast restaurant when I retire. I’ll serve these everyday; some w/ country ham, some with grits and eggs.

  7. 7 Jennifer
    February 16, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I am really confused. I was just about to go to the store and buy some White Lily flour (the best I hear) and then I see this recipe using all purpose made into self rising. Your biscuits look the best I have seen in a while! You also don’t sift your flour but use a processor. I don’t have either. I don’t want to buy flour I don’t need and a sifter as well if they aren’t really neccessary. UGH! What do I do????


  8. February 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Don’t panic Jennifer. Go ahead and buy the White Lily (I’m assuming it is easy to find where you live). Here’s a recipe that will work really well.

    2 cups White Lily (unsifted – it’s so loose you won’t have to sift it. Just scoop it by the tablespoon into a dry measuring cup and level it off with a knife)
    3 tbs baking powder
    1 tsp salt (scant)
    1 tsp baking soda
    5 tbs lard (or Crisco if you don’t have any)
    3/4 to 1 cup of buttermilk (probably closer to the 3/4)

    Use a wire whisk to blend the dry ingredients together really well. This is as good as sifting in my opinion.

    Use your fingers to pinch and blend the lard until you have penny sized flour covered flakes.

    Start with 3/4 cup of buttermilk (or yogurt). Pour it into the flour mixture and stir gently with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be a little sticky like in the picture above. If it won’t come together, add a little more liquid just until it does.

    Dump on to a floured work surface and proceed with kneading and rolling instructions above.

    Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

  9. 9 jhm
    February 22, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks for this (especially the photos).

    I should mention that I was rather shocked to see the word “frig” here. I would look this up before I used it in a less informal venue.

  10. February 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Oh, my. I never knew that, JHM. The entry will be updated. I always heard the word used as short for “refrigerator.”

  11. January 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Your biscuits are beautiful! 🙂

  12. November 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I did a test run on these before making them for everyone. They were so flaky but I just couldn’t get them to rise like yours did in the picture. And I think i would also double the recipe just to get more from it! But I will try again because they were to yummy to not!!!!

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