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

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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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  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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