Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Old Fashioned Biscuit Bread

A quick biscuit bread, sometimes called hoecake bread, fried in bacon drippings in a screaming hot, cast iron skillet on top of the stove.

Old Fashioned Biscuit Bread

Though skillet bread has been around since pre-Colonial times, this biscuit bread was likely a staple during the Great Depression and probably most often eaten for breakfast, typically just torn from the cake, rather than cut.

Not much more than simply flour, fat and milk back then, and often only water, when there was no money for milk. Thankfully we can be just a tad more indulgent and use a little butter and some buttermilk in ours. If you're in the mood for biscuits but don't want to bother with the rolling and cutting out part, this is a great way to get them, because essentially this is pretty much just one giant biscuit, with a different preparation.

Some southerners call this skillet biscuit a hoecake, and as always, we southerners can get a little bit, well... let's say passionate, about something we grew up with, especially when it comes to food. Some of us insist a hoecake is a small medallion of cornmeal cakes cooked in a skillet, sort of like a pancake. Others of us say that this flour rendition is a hoecake, and their cornmeal cousins are something altogether different. I say that, just like cornbread and potato salad in your gumbo, I think it honestly just depends on where you grew up and what you grew up knowing. No one way is the only right way, except your mama's way!

No matter whether you call this a hoecake, biscuit bread, flour bread, flour pone, pone bread, biscuit pone, skillet bread, skillet biscuit  or gallettes - just a few of the many names this bread is known by - there seems to be at least two solid rules to this biscuit bread. It should be cooked in a cast iron skillet and always on the top of the stove, though a third rule for using bacon fat doesn't really hurt either if you ask me.

I like to cover the skillet when the bread is cooking, because it seems to help to retain the heat, giving a better rise on the dough and cooks it through more evenly and faster.  I also like to pour some melted butter on top after I turn it, but that's just me, so it's optional. You can just add your butter as you pull off a chunk.

Biscuit bread is suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it's as good drizzled with syrup or honey, as it is as a side bread for soup, beans, chicken and dumplings, or with Sunday supper.

Here's how to make it.

In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, melt the bacon fat over medium high heat.


Meanwhile, cut the cold butter into the flour. Although I didn't show it here, I just used a pastry cutter as usual.


Add only enough buttermilk to form into a stiff, shaggy dough - like a biscuit dough.


You could potentially just dump this mass of dough in your hot skillet and mash it in real quick, but I prefer to gather the dough up a bit first. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle a little flour on top. Pull the dough together to form a disc.


Turn over and tighten the disc, shaping it slightly smaller than the skillet. Sorry for the shading - I apparently had a lighting issue with my camera. Hey, I never said I was a photographer!


Use a wide spatula to carefully lift the dough up and transfer to the hot skillet. This actually works easier if you can get the dough and the skillet in close proximity to each other, but if you don't get it in there perfect don't sweat it either. The dough should sizzle - pretty much the same as it does with your skillet cornbread. Reduce heat to between medium to medium low and cover the skillet.


Cook until the bread browns then flip over. Cooking time is gonna be dependent on how your heat is set and how hot your skillet is, so just use a spatula to peek under it every once in awhile and don't go running off to check your Facebook page. By the way... if your dough sticks, then it's time to re-season your skillet.


I like to go ahead and pour melted butter on top once I flip it, but that is totally optional. You can omit it and just save the butter for later. Cover the skillet and cook until browned on the other side.


Cut into wedges or break off pieces and tell me you don't just love this old fashioned recipe!


Serve your chunks with pure butter, honey, sorghum or cane syrup, or use your favorite jam, jelly, preserves or fruit butter, or eat it as a bread for supper.





Recipe: Old Fashioned Biscuit Bread

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 15 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings
  • 2 cups of self rising flour
  • 1/4 cup very cold butter, cubed
  • 3/4 to 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted, optional
Instructions

In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, melt the bacon fat over medium high heat. Meanwhile, cut the cold butter into the flour. Add only enough buttermilk to the flour to form into a shaggy dough, turn out onto a floured surface, sprinkle a small amount of flour on top and quickly shape into a disc. Turn over, sprinkle additional flour on top and tighten disc, just slightly smaller than the skillet.

Use a wide spatula to transfer the dough to the hot skillet. Cover and reduce heat to between medium and medium low. Cover and cook until the bread browns on the bottom, then flip over, pour melted butter on top if desired, cover and cook until browned on the other side. Break off pieces or cut into wedges and serve with pure butter, honey, sorghum or cane syrup, or use your favorite jam, jelly, preserves or fruit butter.

Cook's Notes: Can substitute vegetable shortening (like Crisco) for the bacon drippings. I use White Lily self rising flour and Land O'Lakes butter for this recipe.

Oven Version: While traditionally made on the stovetop, you can also make this in the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Add the bacon drippings to the 8 inch cast iron skillet and place into the oven. Meanwhile, cut the cold butter into the flour. Add buttermilk, increasing to about 1-1/2 to 2 cups, or until mixture is gooey, but still thick and not soupy. Using pot holders, carefully remove skillet from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the skillet, using a spatula to spread the dough across the skillet. Pour the melted butter on top, and place into oven, baking uncovered at 400 degrees F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Oven Cheese Biscuit Bread: Add 1 cup of shredded mozzarella or cheddar, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of dried herbs (basil, sage, oregano, Italian seasoning, etc.) to the batter before adding the buttermilk. Cook in the oven as above.

Galettes: Instead of shaping into one biscuit, pinch off pieces of individual dough about a small palmful. Use fingertips to pat out into individual thin, flat breads, about 1/4 inch thick. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut a small slit in the center of the bread. Omit the bacon drippings and fry galettes individually in about 1/2 inch of hot oil, turning once, until browned on both sides. Immediately brush with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with granulated or powdered sugar. Can also serve with jam, jelly, preserves, honey or cane syrup.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on February 22, 2012
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127 comments:

  1. With the words biscuit, fried, bacon, and cast iron in the description, it has to be good. This is a must try

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    1. and slather with butter...we are talking a meal there....

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    2. My grandma made this 4 us kid's an for grandpa.Boy does it taste delicious. Mmm for my tummy:-)

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    3. looks so good I've heard so much about white lily flour why is it so much better my mother in law insisted on Washington flour what is the difference?

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  2. I have never made biscuits on top of the snow, I just might try it for the fun of it!

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  3. Yum! I have this recipe, but mine is made in the oven, but next time I'll try the stove top method Mary. I say yes to the butter on top, and bacon grease really gives biscuits a nice flavor and crust.

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  4. Oh my gravy - I can't believe how lucky I am right now. One of my fellow Southern Girl Gang members left me three (3!) jars of homemade jelly/preserves this weekend. Biscuit bread for supper? With fig preserves? Don't mind if I do!

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  5. I'd like to break off a chunk of that!

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  6. LOL Larry, so true!

    It's easy and so good Kat - try it sometime.

    Hey Lynda! Yeah, seems oven baked is more popular these days, so I did include that in the cook's notes. It's really easy with a good cast iron skillet too though.

    That sounds devine Leiah! (Love your pretty name too btw)

    That's the traditional way it was eaten Pam - just pull a hunk off & devour with your favorite topping.

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    1. I'm making this for my momma on her birthday since her grandfather made it for her when she was little... as a side note, warm molasses with butter is the way she ate it as a girl. So good ;)

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    2. Oh, I hope it brings back some good memories for her Scott!

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  7. My Granny used to make this, and just called it "fried biscuits"...her dough was more like drop biscuits and she just dropped it into the hot grease is small spoonfuls...but it was delicious...she used bacon grease for the frying, and would sometimes add cracklin's from our own home-rendered lard...

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  8. Call it what you want...if it's fried in bacon grease I'm in! I've had corn bread fried this way but never biscuits. I love the idea!

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  9. Hi Mary, I just started using my iron skillets more and more and this has to go in one of them for sure! What a cool recipe! Thanks!

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  10. I'd love a wedge with a bit (a lot) of sausage gravy poured over it.

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  11. Pinned this one earlier today, right before I made a batch. People are liking and re-pinning like crazy. I think Biscuit Bread is going to be on a lot of table this week!

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  12. my mother said her mother used to make something like this every morning. But instead of pulling off a chunk it would be cut out like a slice of bread size and then split in half with egg and cheese etc put inside.

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  13. I grew up on this! My Gran would pop our hands if we tried to cut it or cut corn bread - she said it was bad luck! We would tear off chunks, slather it with butter and pour sorghum, honey, or in one tradition I never could stomach old fashioned cane syrup. (The smell kept me from that!)

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  14. I've done this before when in a hurry but wanting some biscuits with my supper. My Great Aunt Mary used to cook this up for her cats so we've always called this 'cat bread'. :)

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    1. That is so funny! My cats aren't too much into bread, but then I don't think I've ever offered this to them either!

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  15. I've made this when in a hurry and wanting biscuits with my supper. My Great Aunt Mary would make this for her cats- so we always called it 'cat bread'. :)

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  16. THIS is how I remember a "hoecake"...not the little things I see being cooked on FoodNetwork (and I do love Food Network)...this is how my mama, grandmas, and neighbor made it...have never made one, and haven't made biscuits in YEARS (well, maybe the frozen ones..:)...but might have to try it...memories have been stirred...thank you so very much...

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  17. Can you use a regular skillet to make this?

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    1. It won't cook up quite the same as cast iron, but it might work!

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    2. My Grandma used to make this in a regular skillet every day. She would dollop out each biscuit though starting with the center one and then working around in a circle. When you dollop the biscuits in this way it gives them the impressions where they can just be torn out. She also used regular milk (she called it sweet milk!) instead of buttermilk. You just need to make sure your skillet is properly greased. She also had a trick of sliding it out onto her lid on the cooked side then flipping it back in the pan upside down to cook the other side. Loved my Grandma so much. When I make these it is like she is right there with me!

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    3. Thanks Arlene & what great memories!!

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  18. my mom would make hoecakes for breakfast sometimes serve it up with some warm syrup, sometimes she'd crumble up the crisp bacon and put it in the dough, that some good eatin y'all

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    1. my grandmother used to make these for us as children...with brer rabbit syrup...delicious

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  19. my grandmother made these for us as a child with beur rabbit syrup....delicious

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  20. If I don't have self rising flour do I need to add yeast?

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    1. No yeast, but you'll need to add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt to the all purpose flour.

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  21. Here in East Tennessee we call it Pone Bread and we love it...Hoe Cakes are fried cornbread and we love those too...thanks for sharing your recipe...Ronda

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  22. Here in East Tennessee we call it Pone Bread and Hoe Cakes are fried cornbread and we love them...thanks for sharing your recipes...Ronda

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  23. Mmmm! Never had skillet biscuit bread before, but this was very good...buttery, soft, and tender. Just like homemade biscuits..without all the fuss, or heating up the kitchen. I didn't have bacon fat, but Crisco shortening worked well. Thanks for sharing, it's a keeper!

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  24. Wow!! Thank you for this post and this wonderful site! This is taking me back to the sweet memories of growing up! I loved Hoecakes with Alaga syrup.....making these today!

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    1. Awww, you're so welcome! Thanks for the sweet comment too!!

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  25. Oh my - this look so good! I'm always looking for biscuit variations and can't wait to try it.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Ann! I just visited your Pinterest board, and now I'm craving biscuits LOL!! Thanks for the pin and please come back & visit again.

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  26. I am so happy that I could cry. This was something my mother made for us all through my childhood & early adult years. When she passed, I was sure I had the recipe, but didn't. Other recipes I found wanted to add cornmeal! The story my mother told me that HER mother told her about this bread was that slaves and poor freedmen would cook this bread on the flat of a hoe held over a fire. I just want to give you the biggest freaking hug for posting this!

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    1. Trudy, you are SO welcome! I hope that you enjoy the hoecake bread and have wonderful memories of your Mama. HUGS!

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  27. I really liked this recipe! I do think my biscuit was a tad too thick....it browned but I had to throw it in the oven to finish up cooking the middle. It tasted wonderful though, and I liked the idea of "breaking bread" with my family.

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  28. This is the hoe cake recipe I have been searching for! My Mama and Granny used to make this quite regular. Both passed away when I was a teenager and I never learned to make it. I am in my mid fifties now and you have no idea how many memories of my Mother have came flooding back due to your recipe. I cannot thank you enough. God bless you and yours.

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    1. I can't tell you much it means when I hear this - thank you for taking the time to share. God bless you!!

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  29. My grams made these just as you directed! You brought back so many memories! !! Thank you!

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  30. Thank You!! Grew up with these wonderful "Shortbreads". 😍
    Been looking for the recipe!!

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  31. Been looking for this recipe! 😍
    Mom made these and we called them shortbread. Thank You for posting.

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  32. Grew up eating these for breakfast, sprinkled with sugar and coffee poured over. Yummy add cream too if you like!

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    1. I love that this bread is good as savory or sweet!

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  33. Grew up eating these when we were young. Sprinkle with sugar then pour coffee and cream over all. YUM!

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  34. My mother made this until she pasted away. She used lard instead of butter so she could save the butter to stir in molasses for sop pin. wounderful!




















    thanks'

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  35. If you make this with 76 degree coconut oil it is really really good and a lot healthier. But I guess doing it that way is sort of yankified. I can't abide a yankee, like a cross to vampires, so it should have a new name fried up that way.

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    1. Why not? A lot of folks are using coconut oil these days!!

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    2. I am 58 and remember my grand Mother making hoecakes we would brake off a piece and butter it and put her pear preserves in it. I have been hunting this recipe for years. thank you and God Bless pilgrim

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  36. I'm loving the sound of this recipe, and I will make it soon. I have a ?? for you. I have 10 and 12 inch cast iron skillets. How could I adapt this recipe for either one?

    Vicky

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    1. I use 8 and 10 inch - the 10 inch will work fine!

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  37. Could this be made using whole/2% milk??
    I don't care for buttermilk.

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    1. Of course! Buttermilk is used in Southern biscuits because it both adds flavor to our biscuits, but it also reacts with the leaveners used to give a fluffier more tender result.

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  38. My mom who was from Kentucky used to make something close to this but it was just self rising flour and water mixed up to a cake like texture and then poured in a hot oiled skillet. Wait til it bubbles up on top (like a pancake) and turn. It would make a fat bread that was brown and crunchy on top. We'd eat it with eggs and/or sausage or sausage gravy for breakfast and with soup beans and fried taters for dinner. Delicious! Thanks for the memories.

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    1. Ah, those were the days! And now, I'm HUNGRY lol!! :)

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    2. This is the way My mom taught me.....with a little bit of baking soda.....I am from Kentucky also....very fast to fix when unexpected visitors arrive....lol....and taste so good

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    3. Yes, much faster than biscuits but just as good!!

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  39. Mary, thanks so much for this recipe. I used to enjoy eating biscuit bread as a kid, at my best friend's house for breakfast. Made some this morning and it brought back many fond memories. I used a pizza peel to transfer the dough to the skillet. Enjoyed the bread with some butter and fig preserves. My oh my...mighty fine eats! Thanks again.

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    1. You are so welcome & I know with those fig preserves that was heaven!!

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  40. Made this bread tonight and it was wonderful. I didn't have buttermilk so I added a tablespoon of white vinegar to the milk and let it sit 5 minutes and it worked out great. Taste so good with butter and Tupelo Honey! Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Oh yeah, butter and honey - two of my favorites! I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe and thanks so much for letting me know!!

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  41. Whenever I go to flip it, it breaks and turns into a mess...love these but what am I doing wrong??? Help,please... :) how long do in cook before i flip the biscuits?

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    1. Hi! Oh, bummer!! Well... it sounds like you might be turning it too early and not browning it quite enough on the bottom, or else your skillet wasn't hot enough or might be sticking. Be sure to cook it until the bread browns on the bottom - like with a pancake - then flip over. If it's undercooked, it will fall apart. Cooking time is gonna be dependent on how high the heat is set, what kind of skillet you're using (I use cast iron) and how hot your skillet is. You need the bread to sear on the bottom side before turning it over. Just use a spatula to peek under it every once in awhile. I like to use a wide pancake spatula too. If your dough is sticking, then it's time to re-season your skillet!

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  42. OMG...my mother used to cook this for us when we were little girls (50+ years ago). We especially seemed to enjoy it on cold winter mornings. My sister loved this bread with molasses; I loved it with good apple jelly! I am thinking I'll treat myself to this Saturday morning! Thanks for the recipe but especially for stirring memories.

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    1. You're welcome, weather's just right now too! I just know you'll have happy memories making this.

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  43. I didn't wait until Saturday. Today was chilly and I was home alone, so I treated myself. Here's a note for your readers: I halved the recipe because I was cooking for one. It turned out beautifully - wish I could send you a photo. Thanks for the memories.

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  44. I Loved MY Mother fry bread I try to make turn out very good not Mom's but ok

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    1. This is more of a biscuit bread recipe than a fry bread so the texture would be different for sure, although I have seen multiple recipes for fry breads too so there is a great amount of variation in ingredients among fry bread recipes too.

      Nevertheless, it is hard to duplicate our Mother's cooking, no matter the simplicity. I've been trying for years to duplicate my mom's seafood gumbo and there's just something I'm not quite getting. The biggest missing ingredient is her! If you do a search for fry bread recipes you'll probably get a bit closer to what you remember.

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    2. I love this bread. My mother use to make it when I was a child, and while I was growing up, but I never learned to make it. Now I have a craving for it, so I googled it, and found your recipe. Growing up we used molasses and butter on our bread. Thank you so much for the recipe.

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  45. My mother made this by just scraping the batter out of the bowl and into the hot skillet - and I love it but especially because of the skillet being so hot the edges and bottom are all crispy. Yum, this makes my mouth water just thinking about it!!

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  46. When I was a kid, My Gra-ma would flour lightly and knead gently once the dough was turned out onto the counter, then roll it out with a roller....Fried on a cast iron griddle pan, but still with that awesome bacon grease ;-) Brings back so many memories, and now I'm gonna have to modify your recipes see if I can get evenly remotely close to child hood breakfast heaven. THANKS for sharing!!!! Oh, and she called em Hoe cakes....she was from Virgilina Virginia.

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  47. My family has always called it poor man's bread lol. They would mix it like a really thick pancake mixture and pour it into the skillet. A little salt and pepper on top. Yum!

    Thanks for sharing.

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  48. Thank you so much for posting a cornmeal free version! Both of my parents grew up with these and both of them call them hoe cakes. Neither parent however remembers cornmeal ever being an ingredient. The only changes I made were to use Crisco instead of butter for the dough and I didn't cover mine while cooking. A thumbs up from my mom so these were just right. I dipped mine in maple syrup and another one in blueberry preserves from my aunt.

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  49. I have tried to make this for a few years now. my grandmother made it regularly, and served gravy made in an iron skillet with it. oh my goodness! wish she were here to make it again. I cant wait to try again and have my brothers and sister over. thank you for posting!

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    1. I lost my Mama back in 1997 so I certainly relate to that Teresa. I think I'm a fairly good cook, but I can't stand up to her cooking for sure! I hope you enjoy the bread & that it's at least somewhat similar to what you remember.

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  50. My Mother made this and I loved it then, and still do! She would heat her cast iron skillet and lard in a 500 degree oven and pour the dough in and it would sizzle like crazy, then she would put it back in the oven and bake until done. We just broke off pieces and the crunchy outside of it was SO good and I would eat it just plain without anything with it!! Yum, my mother is watering.

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  51. There is nothing more wonderful than this bread. I see my Grandfather mixing soft butter in molasses and spreading it on his hoecake. Fabulous with just butter.

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  52. Replies
    1. Do you mean to squish them together to form a big biscuit? I've never tried it but it might work! You could certainly fry them individually of course.

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  53. My grandmother in Mississippi made this for us as kids, she called it george washington bread. love it in cane syrup

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  54. My grandmother in mississippi would make this for us as kids in the early to mis 70's...she called it geaorge washington bread... i sure do love it with cane syrup!

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  55. PS My grandmother that made this was from pass christian, MS so no wonder its so familiar, she was a Necaise that married a Ladner...Esther Ladner, i am sure being from biloxi you surely know a few ladners necaises or cuevas'... lol had you ever heard it called george washington bread?

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    1. I actually haven't heard it called that, but yes, my Mama grew up on the point, & Necaise & Ladner, Cuevas - all very familiar names to me for sure!

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  56. I make this a lot for my husband and granddaughter. My Mama's aunt use to make chocolate gravy to go with flour bread. I've made them and they look perfect and made others that fell all to pieces cause it was what my Grandma called too tender! This has been consider poor man's food but if you eat it with fresh veggies(field peas, orkra, cabbage,sliced cucumbers and maters) it's food fit for a king!!!:)

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  57. I grew up eating this in NC. We called it flour bread. We ate it with home made syrup made with ribbon cane or seed cane. It was almost black like molasses. I still make this dish partly because of nostalgia, but mostly because its really good. Especially with cane syrup,fried sausage or white side meat, black coffee and a half day to recover from the giant breakfast. These foods were meant to carry you through the day while working hard outside on the farm. Todays lifestyles make it harder to enjoy this as often as i would like. Save it for a day when you have yard work. LOL

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    1. It's hard not to eat the same way isn't it Jamie - that's why I figure I'll always be a little fluffy!!

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  58. I have been looking for this recipe for years!!! My grandmother cooked it as did my mother. Now they are both gone and no copy of this recipe. Thank you so much!!!!
    Jane/NC

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  59. A little different than I remember, but then again, being poor, you had to stretch what you had most of, which was usually water.lol We made it with self rising flour, a little oil or melted butter if you were lucky, and enough water so that we could pour it in the pan, but not too runny to be doughy in the middle. We would serve with cane syrup or make gravy from fried meat drippings. Dang, now I am going to go home and not be happy with anything else for supper.lol

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    1. Oh yeah, the ingredients have been "modernized" a bit for sure! Hope you enjoyed your skillet bread!

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  60. We called it fry bread. I have not seen that in the description, but it has many different nams, depending where you grew up.

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  61. We call this flour bread in Johnston County, NC. We make it with lard instead of butter. My husband makes it for us on his great-grandmother's skillet from 1900. Yum!!!❤

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  62. We call this flour bread in Johnston County, NC. We make it with lard instead of butter. My husband makes it for us on his great-grandmother's skillet from 1900. Yum!!!❤

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    1. Wow, that's awesome that he has that! What a treasure!!

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  63. Made this by accident a couple of weeks ago. I was making biscuits and had patted the dough into a circle to cut the biscuits out. I had my hot cast iron skillet sitting next to me to put them in as I cut them. I stood there looking at the disk of dough, that, coincidentally was the perfect size to fit in my skillet. I thought 'why cut them out and keep rolling the dough till it is all used. I'll just try to bake it whole.' I just sliced the biscuits like a pie when it came out of the oven. I think this is my new way to have biscuits!

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  64. My Mother in-law who is from the far north. But she was taught to make these Hoe Cakes at age 18 by her southern mother in law. I have to say they are awesome!!!!!

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  65. My mom used to bake hers in the oven and it was so delicious with molasses and butter. I will try this on top of the stove since it's so hot outside.

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  66. My mom did ig the same way she just used crisco. It is hreat with anythimng but I love it with sour cream and syrup. Ok I doubt if anyone likes that idea but try it. We ate them with syrup and cow cream. I doubt if anyoe knows what that is, but again it is great also...

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  67. My Grandmother and I were talking a few days ago about her favorite foods growing up and she named this. She told me that her mother made the very best, I am trying to recreate the same recipe. Her mother used water.. Can I just substitute milk for water with your recipe? Or should I do something else?

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  68. My Olmama and I were talking the other day about fall. As it is that time again, she told me that hoecakes were something she always looked forward to in the fall. She said her mom made the best. I am trying to recreate her recipe for my Olmama... She used water. Can I just substitute milk for water using your recipe? Or do I need to try something different?

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    1. Yes, back in the day a hoecake like this would have been made with water. I've modernized it to be more like today's buttermilk biscuit - so it a little more tender and flavorful. You could certainly use water, or even milk. It's just a big biscuit really!

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