When visiting family in Louisiana recently, my brother and I searched for my Nana’s cookbooks. I was mainly looking for her biscuit recipe. I remember rolling the dough with my hands, then into melted butter before popping them into the oven. We didn’t have any luck but fortunately, my step-mom took a quick look through her shelf and found one, the Deer Park Feeder’s Digest. The cookbook was compiled by a group of cafeteria and food service workers in Deer Park, Texas in 1973. A friend had given Nana one and seeing all of her notes inside, this was her go-to for many recipes during my childhood.
An oldie but a goodie!
The ingredients are for family-style, or cafeteria size, portions.
WHAT ARE ANGEL BISCUITS:
For the biscuits to be light and fluffy, they need three leaveners: baking soda, baking powder and yeast. It’s as if they float up to the heavens like an angel, hence the name. We Southerners love this kind of stuff.
Knead dough gently for a lighter biscuit. I would roll 8 biscuits for this 8-inch pan in the future. I went a little bigger during testing. Melt butter in the pan then roll the dough balls into the butter before placing in the tin. You may use any type of pan but this is what Nana used.
They were light in texture and taste but didn’t rise a much as I expected. The original recipe calls for 12 hours. After researching the recipe online, the consensus was 1 hour.
I would try using a flour like White Lilly, made from soft winter wheat with less gluten. It’s a Southern “secret” to getting light airy biscuits. However, I used all-purpose flour in this recipe and it was just fine.
SHORTENING AND BUTTER:
I used vegetable shortening this time instead of butter. I remember Nana using both. If using butter only, add 1/2 cup. The trick, make sure the butter is really cold (pop into the freezer for a few minutes) and grate it into the flour. Bakers don’t always like to use shortening but it does make light and fluffy biscuits so try both in the recipe and see if you like it. That would be 1/4 cup of shortening, 1/4 cup butter.
Don’t leave out the buttermilk. It really does “make” biscuits. Make your own by combining 1 cup whole milk and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes.
You may use a rolling pin and cut out 2-inch biscuits instead of rolling them into balls. Dip the cutter into flour first so it won’t stick. Press straight down, do not twist the cutter. Twisting may seal the edges and they won’t rise very much. Be gentle when kneading the dough and rolling out to about 1-inch before cutting.
USE A CAST IRON SKILLET:
Melt some butter and brush skillet bottom. Place biscuits in skillet slightly touching. Cover with plastic and allow to rise for 1 hour.
TO BUTTER OR NOT TO BUTTER:
I was taught to roll biscuits in the melted butter, then allow to rise before going into the oven. However, that could interfere with the rising process. If preferred, allow biscuits to rise first, then brush with butter. You may also wait to brush with melted butter until after the biscuits come out of the oven.
HOW TO STORE BISCUITS:
Biscuits can be stored at room temperature for 3 days. Though refrigeration is not recommended, I have not had any issues with warming one up in the oven at 250 degrees F for 5 minutes. They are still soft and good. Again, I used all shortening in this recipe so it’s possible that using butter may change the texture.
Store left over dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Dough is good for one week but it will slow the rising process and give the biscuits more of a yeast flavor.
Biscuits can be frozen in an air tight container for up to 1 month.
They are super good as part of a bacon and egg sandwich. Yes, I like turkey bacon.
I split the recipe below from the cookbook. Double it when a bigger crowd of family visits for breakfast. They will love you for it!!
Angel Flake Biscuits
Light buttery biscuits made with yeast. A Southern traditional biscuit that's great smothered in gravy!
- 2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons lukewarm water (110 - 115 degrees F)
- 1 1/8 teaspoon yeast
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon + 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted (to roll before baking)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Dissolve yeast in warm water, set aside.
In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Mix shortening with dry ingredients using your fingers until chunks are size of a pea.
Stir in buttermilk and yeast mixture. Don't over mix.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a baking pan.
Spoon out 1-2 tablespoons of dough for each biscuit and roll into a ball.
Roll biscuits in melted butter and place in pan.
Allow biscuits to rise 30 minutes.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until light, golden brown.
Only making one pan? Store left over dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Dough is good for one week but it will slow the rising process and give the biscuits more of a yeast flavor.