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you may have noticed

Recipe: extra-flaky southern buttermilk biscuits

…that use real butter was a little glitchy on Saturday. That was because Mr. Awesome and I were moving my entire online existence to a new commercial server, to better serve you, my beloved readers. There are apparently a lot more of you than we had originally anticipated and the old server was buckling under the weight of the traffic. The old blog address should have an automatic redirect to the new and improved and rightly proper domain: Permalinks and the like have been fixed on this end. Feeds have been updated, although it will probably take Bloglines a little while to update their feed… Google Reader has done so already. If you link to use real butter, you may want to update to the new address ( Otherwise, I hope all changes on urb are relatively transparent for you.

rime ice from this morning

there is snow, and then there is magical snow

I had mentioned a while back that my mom has this thing she does at Christmas… she mails Virginia ham near and far to friends and family. It’s her thing. And all of the recipients are grateful, because we all love that salty Virginia ham. On my list of Animals to Eat over the Holidays, sea critters rank #1 and I haven’t decided if cattle or piggies are #2, but they both outrank chickens and turkeys (duck is another matter entirely, especially Peking duck). But back to the Virginia ham… I grew up eating thin slices of this country ham with a certain kind of biscuit, the silver dollar biscuits from Crums Bakery in Newport News. Crums closed and I read recently that the daughter of the baker has opened a bakery in Gloucester (called the Baker’s Daughter or something?). I have never encountered another biscuit that rivals those silver dollar biscuits. They were ever so slightly sweet, flaky, but not crumbly. The perfect companion to lovely Virginia ham. People used to order them months in advance for their holiday dinners and parties – they were THAT good.

cutting the butter into the flour

pour in buttermilk

For the past six months or so, I’ve been casually searching for and reading biscuit recipes online, in books, wherever I can find one. I didn’t know much about biscuits other than I really don’t care for the crumbly, tender buttermilk biscuits that everyone in the South raves about. I hate food that falls apart on me. It’s rude.

knead the dough a few turns

So here I am, thinking of a kind of biscuit I want to create, but have no recipe for. There are more biscuit recipes out there than you can shake a stick at, but I knew enough to try and narrow it down to flaky biscuits. Can’t stand flaky people, but love flaky biscuits. I found this recipe online and figured it sounded fairly close as it promised flaky layers. The technique described for achieving layers was similar to the technique we used in the Daring Bakers’ Danish Braid. The dough is rolled out then folded with butter – lots of butter, folded in several times.

see what i mean

folding the dough

The recipe says to cut the dough up into little squares, but I have this thing about round biscuits. That is to say, biscuits are round. That meant I had leftover scraps which I gently piled on top of one another and rolled out. Of course, these were going to be deformed stacks of layers, but at least they were round.

cutting the biscuits

brush with… more butter

The end result wasn’t bad at all. Nice flaky layers, but still too crumbly and tender to be those awesome silver dollar biscuits. I think the next attempt will be some version of beaten biscuits because I’ve read that those are particular to the region and sound closer to what I’m looking for. Either that or I might try kneading the dough more to reduce the fine crumb. These biscuits however, were quite delicious hot out of the oven and stuffed with ham. But my search continues. I noticed the May 2007 issue of Fine Cooking has a similar biscuit recipe (flaky), but it’s so similar to this one that I’ll probably try beaten biscuits before that recipe. If you know what a Crums silver dollar biscuit is like and have a recipe – I would be ever so grateful.

lots of flakiness

ooooh! with ham!

Extra-Flaky Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
[print recipe]
from RecipeZaar

4 1/2 cups white lily all-purpose flour (I used generic all-purpose)
2 tsps cream of tartar
2 tsps baking soda (I didn’t adjust the amount of baking soda for this recipe)
1 1/2 tsps salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter or margarine or shortening, cut into pieces
1 3/4-2 cups cold buttermilk
9 tbsps unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1 tbsp pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 450°F (500°F if using a convection oven). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Cut cold butter or shortening into dry ingredients with a pastry blender. (Mixture will resemble coarse crumbs, with no large chunks of butter.) If butter gets very soft at this point, refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, stirring just to moisten all ingredients. Dough should be soft and moist; add remaining 1/4 cup as needed. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead gently about 10 times, or just until dough holds together. Roll or pat dough into a 14-by-10-inch rectangle. With short side nearest you, spread top two-thirds of dough with 3 tablespoons soft butter, leaving bottom third, closest to you, unbuttered. Fold dough into thirds by pulling bottom third up over center and then pulling top third over middle. Turn dough so short side faces you. Pat into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. (I used a rolling pin – it gets messy, but it gets done). In same manner, spread again with 3 tablespoons soft butter and fold letter style. Turn once more in the same manner. Pat into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle (I used the rolling pin again); spread with remaining 3 tablespoons soft butter and fold up. Work quickly and gently so as not to overwork dough. Pat (roll) dough into rectangle 3/4-inch thick on floured surface. Cut into squares with a sharp chef’s knife. (I used my round biscuit cutters, because I love them). Place on pan, 1 inch apart. Lightly brush tops with melted butter. Bake in center of hot oven about 20 minutes (about 12 minutes in convection), until golden brown and firm. Serve hot, warm or room temperature. (I served them hot stuffed with country ham – oh boy oh boy).

70 nibbles at “you may have noticed”

  1. Rosa says:

    These tree pictures are stunning and the biscuits look incredibly good!

    I have noticed nothing ;-P…



  2. Margie says:

    I’m so glad to know I was not booted out the back door for ill behavior, cuz, well I would have found my way to the front door and begged mercy. That glitch had me in computer freak-out mode. How on earth could I survive without the friendship, good food, photography, and most important, Miss K.? Let’s keep it real: It would have been a living nightmare. Thank God I have been delivered. Now, on to those biscuits….

    Opposites, we are. I couldn’t make much of anything until I landed in the south. Well, unless I was target shooting, and then I had something going for me, but biscuits? Ouch! The memories still hurt. I was notorious for overworking my dough, and heaven help us, guilty of using that white stuff in a can. (That fake fat that coats the tongue and nulls the tastebuds). I had to drive south, discover buttermilk and remember what was really the most important culinary item of all, butter. And here we are alike, friends of butter, more butter….and even more butter.

    Joy to butter, and while we are at it, even greater joy to the fact that the nasty glitch is gone.

    Girl, you done scared me! I was fixing to bribe you with a photo of my dog. You should be impressed.


  3. Caitlin says:

    Oh my, that just sounds fantastic. I’m so jealous of people with access to true Virginia hams. And maybe someday I’ll actually be able to make flakey Southern-style biscuits, but I might be woefully handicapped by growing up in northern Indiana. I can make a mean scone though, so I guess that makes things somewhat better, right?

  4. Dragana says:

    Your biscuits look delicious! I can’t imagine how you can improve them, but let us know when you do!
    I love your blog. I am new at blogging, and learn from you every day. Your pictures are brilliant and your writing is very honest and entertaining. I wish you the best in health and happiness in 2009!

  5. barbara says:

    Jen these seem to be what we call scones in NZ and Australia. They look wonderful.

  6. Val says:

    My husbands Grandmother was from S Carolina & she used to make the kind of biscuits you describe. She tried to teach me, but she was a “throw it all in from memory” type of gal, & I’m a “anal retentive need a written recipe” kind of gal. I came close to recreating those a time or two in my life, but don’t do it often enough to be dependably good.

    I can tell you the important parts I remember. She used lard instead of butter – cut it in; made a well in the center for her wet ingredients – which she gently mixed with a fork; no kneeding – just gently pat it on a floured board to about 3/4″ thick, cut & transfer to baking sheet. Her biscuits were always flaky & ooooh the memory of what she called “country ham” & biscuits. It was heaven!!!

    Hope this helps in your search. I enjoy your blog & fantastic photographs. Thank you, Val

  7. Kitt says:

    I think Val may be onto something with the lard suggestion. It could be that in this case you don’t use real butter!

    I confess, you wrote about ham and I had to go get a leftover slice from the fridge. It’s from Costco and not Virginia (as far as I know), but it will be good in a variety of things to come.

  8. Meeta says:

    Hey Jen! Wishing you a great and delicious 2009! I hope this year brings you all you desire and wish. I love this space and all your efforts! The first couple of photos are incredible. We’ve had magical snow all weekend and you have inspired me to pack my gear and go out to take a few pictures!

  9. Manggy says:

    Siiiigh. Now I kinda feel deprived as I’ve only ever made/tasted crumbly ones. And yeah, flaky, buttery ones sound MUCH better. You appear to be close, though I was hoping after that much of an effort with the layering they’d be spot-on! The search continues…
    Hmm, don’t put me in a spot and rank seafood or ham, Jen :P That’s probably why scallops, white fish, and shrimp are so dear to me– they play well with salty meats, ha ha ha!

  10. Debbie says:

    I love your snow pictures. Beautiful! I live in Virginia and know the ham you are talking about and boy, is it ever salty!!!! I can only eat a few bites but my son loves it.

  11. Rob P. says:

    The best thing about donating blood in Williamsburg was when the church ladies would provide after-donation snacks. I bypassed the brownies, cookies and cakes and went straight for the ham biscuits.

  12. Grey Street Girl says:

    Are you sure you’re not from Georgia? Those are some damn fine looking biscuits!

  13. Maya says:

    Thanks for the the slathering butter and then fold dough tip. Not seen that before.
    Love the pics of the trees.

  14. Michael Natkin says:

    Well you saved me the trouble, I’ve been contemplating something like that layer building approach! But here’s a tip that does yield awesomely flaky biscuits. I couldn’t agree more, non-flaky biscuits are in the don’t-waste-my-time-or-waistline category.

  15. Chris says:

    If you’re having trouble with the over-flakiness of the biscuits, then perhaps doing less of the butter folding and, like you said, a bit of kneading might yield a tender yet appropriately flaky baked good. The White Lily site has a couple of tips and recipes that you’ve probably seen already, but incorporating some other techniques with their traditional recipe will probably get you what you’re looking for.

    Either way these look delicious – I’m definitely going to try these considering the amount of time you spent searching the best recipe. Good luck! Hope you can reach biscuit perfection :)

  16. Fiona says:

    Jen I think beaten biscuits *will* be more what you want. Growing up in SC, we ate thin slices of VA ham on very small, hard, white biscuits with docking marks on their tops. They had a bit of crunch to the crust (not unlike a macaron) and they were flaky but had a lot of body (lots of gluten? Not chewy, though – dense).

    Now that I live in KY, I see beaten biscuits a lot. I think they are the traditional old-fashioned kind of biscuit for ham. And you really, truly beat them, so that’ll be fun if you’re feeling frustrated. There is a recipe for beaten biscuits in the Time-Life Foods of the World series volume on Southern cooking. If you want it, email me. It includes a great photo of some sweet old lady pounding away at some biscuits with a hammer (!).

    My own best recipe is for the crumbly kind, which I love. But yours look great and they’re a kind Charles likes, so I think I’ll have to make them for him. He got a little butter-paranoia at Christmas, so we have like 4 lbs of butter in the house (“What if we run out!”). This is a good use for them.

  17. laura says:

    Peter Reinhart’s flaky biscuit recipe in Fine Cooking is a favorite at my house. It was 2007 sometime, so maybe it’s the one you mentioned? To get them to rise well at high altitude (I’m about the same as you), I have to use 500 degrees for the entire baking. I’m Midwestern transplant so I don’t know what a truly great biscuit is like, but yours look wonderful!

  18. Lindsey says:

    Those ham biscuits look divine! I love me a good biscuit, so much so that I served them at my wedding in the south, and I’m a born and bred northerner!

  19. Bridget says:

    I don’t know exactly what type of biscuit you’re describing, but if it isn’t the classic crumbly kind, and it isn’t the flaky kind, maybe it’s angel biscuits? They use both chemical leaveners and yeast.

  20. cindy says:

    those first two pictures are wonderful. i love when that happens. good luck with the biscut adventure.

  21. Spencer says:

    Maybe (?????)…

    * 2 cups all-purpose flour
    * 1 tablespoon baking flour
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 1 tablespoon sugar
    * 1/4 cup lard
    * 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 400°F.

    In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and with a fork or pastry blender blend in lard until mixture resembles course meal. Add milk, a little at a time, stirring until dough just pulls away from side of bowl.

    Roll out dough 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out biscuits with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Reroll scraps and cut out more biscuits in same manner.

    Bake biscuits in middle of oven until pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 20 silver dollar-size biscuits.

  22. Tartelette says:

    Both MIL and B. said “lard” the first time I tried her flaki biscuit and asked for her tip. The recipe is however a well kept secret.
    They look mighty nice though!

  23. Melissa says:

    I don’t know if this is the type you’re looking for, but this is my all-time favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe. The butter melts out of them and fries the bottom so they are crisp, but the top is still tender and soft. I’ve tried southern versions as well, but I have never found a recipe that stands up to this one.

    2.5 Cups flour
    2.5 tsp Baking Powder
    1 Tsp sugar
    1 Tsp salt
    2 Sticks cold, unsalted butter cut into pieces
    1 cup + 3 or 4 tablespoons, buttermilk

    Preheat oven to 375.

    Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients (using your fingers — my choice — or a pastry cutter) until you have pieces of butter ranging in size from small peas to barley. Make sure the butter stays as cold as possible and that the chunks don’t get too small. (When the biscuits bake the chunks of butter melt which helps create layers in the biscuit.)

    Add the cup of buttermilk and stir the mixture together. If it doesn’t come together fairly easily add more buttermilk a little at a time until it does. (I’ve added as much as an extra half a cup before it was done.) Try not to over-mix and try to keep everything cold.

    Pat the biscuit dough out into a circle until it’s about 1-inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter, or break off even-sized chunks of the dough and form into a loose balls that are about an inch thick, and place them on an ungreased baking sheet.

    The recipe says that they bake in about 18 minutes, but I have rarely had mine done in that time. Check after 18 minutes, but if they are not golden on the bottom, leave them in there, checking every minute or so, until they are golden on the bottom, and just starting to get a little color on the top. When I bake them they usually stay in the oven around 24-25 minutes

  24. Nicole says:

    I hate it when there is more biscuit crumbs on my plate than in my mouth. Can’t wait to try out these biscuits. my mouth and me bum thank you :)

  25. Kathleen says:

    I love the pictures of the iced trees. Hore Frost is beautiul.

    your food looks good too.

    I wanted to email you, and I will. Fellow photographer and I are making a trip to Colorado.
    We’re looking for some getaway cabin, in the mountains. Somewhere as picturesque as what I see in your images.

    Any suggestions?

  26. Erin says:

    These look like the perfect flaky biscuits!

  27. Kelly says:

    I can’t wait to read about the definitive flaky biscuit recipe when you find it. I too have been trying out biscuit recipes over the last year and they just haven’t come out as high and flaky as I remember them. When I was younger my parents would take us out to breakfast every Sunday morning and we would alternate weekly between a traditional fry up (2 eggs, homefries, toast, bacon) and a place that made the most delicious cheese biscuits. I’ve never been able to replicate them and there’s something so disappointing about a biscuit that just doesn’t measure up!

  28. bee says:

    happy new year, dear jen and jeremy. those biscuits looks very inviting.

  29. Mrs Ergül says:

    I know the frustration of thinking that a recipe looks right only to have it turn out not! Argh! And thanks for sharing with us photos of the snow-capped mountains! It is truly appreciated thinking that i’m from sunny Singapore!

  30. Kevin says:

    Those biscuits look so light and flaky and good!

  31. Katie says:

    New-ish to your blog – tree pics are AMAZING! Where were pics taken?

  32. Beatrice says:


    I was just thinking that I hadn’t had biscuits in a while…

  33. Aran says:

    oh so so yummy but what takes my breath away is the colorado sights… man how i miss it and i know i tell you that every time i leave you a comment! although i have to admit, florida is pretty nice this time of year… :)

  34. Lisa says:

    The biscuits look pretty good but I have to say that Crums’ is different. It has smooth top. Will try to get over to Gloucester one day and get some biscuits for you ( I will need them for a cocktail party in February anyway). Upon getting them, it can help you exame how it formed.

  35. Passionate Eater says:

    I wish I had a Mom in Virginia that would send me Virginia ham! Happy New Year!

  36. Francesco says:

    Happy new year … and that pastry looks wonderful!
    Did you try it with mascarpone instead of butter?

  37. Gretchen Noelle says:

    These look ever so tasty! I am in the midst of trying to move everything over to a domain and am learning to appreciate how much work it truly takes. Wonderful satisfaction I am sure.

  38. Mollie says:

    Oh my god… a biscuit filled with ham sounds like one of the best freaking things on EARTH. I love a good biscuit. I love a good ham. mmmmmmm that was a sexy picture right there my dear! :)

    Do you mean Gloucester as in, Gloucester MA? Where I go all the time and two of our best friends live? I foresee a biscuit foray in my future…

  39. Donna from Stuff Cooks Want says:

    These look so fantastic I almost want to start a batch NOW….at 10pm….so they are ready for breakfast. But then, I realized, I can make them tomorrow and eat a bunch right out of the oven with a wad of butter – when the kids are at school. Don’t have any Virginia ham, unfortunately.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  40. Andrea says:

    Wow! (snow…love it, but then again, I’m a crazy Canuck) and Yum! (food…love it too!)

    Try out Alton Brown’s biscuits…they are rather scone like so they have a nice fine crumb and hold together really well. And he likes to put a touch of sweetness in too I believe…you should be able to get the receipe off (Oh, and his variation of the biscuits…the raisin or current scones are fabulous…I think I need to make a batch of those sometime soon!)

  41. Pearl says:

    oh those biscuits look so good!

  42. Asianmommy says:

    What beautiful shots of the snow on the trees.

  43. cindy says:

    my ass just got bigger watching you make these biscuits.

  44. Chez Us says:

    Before I even read this post I grazed the photos & thought, “oh, that looks like Smithfield ham from Virginia”. Then I read your post! You are only the 3rd person in my whole life who has talked of this wonderfully salty treat!! I love the extra butter in your biscuits as well, will definitely have to try and I will be forwarding this post to my friend, Carol, who is from Virginia and LOVEs the Smithfield hams!

  45. deb says:

    I just discovered your blog and spent the last 30 minutes reading and taking in your recipes and pictures, thank you for sharing. I will check in again.

  46. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    I hadn’t noticed because I have been away from the Internet for the whole holiday break (which lasts until the 6th here). Joy of joy, we got snow in Milan too! Love your photos – as always and am hoping to try those biscuits this weekend!

  47. peabody says:

    Oh those are some flaky biscuits!

  48. Alexsandra says:

    Care to share a recommendation for getting a Virginia ham to go with?

  49. jenyu says:

    Rosa – thanks!

    Margie – yeah, I’m not sure that buttermilk is a key ingredient in the biscuit I’m looking for. In fact, after talking to my mom yesterday, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. Hopefully I’ll figure it out.

    Caitlin – I’m sure you could whip up a batch of these biscuits in no time. They are fairly simple and delicious.

    Dragana – thank you, that’s so nice of you.

    Barbara – hrmmm, I think they differ from scones, at least the scones I have eaten… and I *love* scones :) That reminds me, I ought to make some!

    Val – thanks for the tip! I seem to hear from many that lard is used rather than butter. But I know there is something else to the technique…

    Kitt – does blogging make us gain weight?!? ;)

    Meeta – thank you, sweetie! I have been awful about getting out to the other blogs. Wishing you an awesome 2009 as well!

    Mark – mmm, I think ham is a nice accompaniment to many foods. But I’d have to rank seafood first, perhaps because I ate so much ham as a kid (wait, I ate a lot of seafood as a kid too). We may be honing in on a solution to the biscuit mystery. One day…

    Debbie – thanks! Your son knows a good thing :)

    Rob – bingo. I’d be there right with ya.

    GSG – ha ha! :)

    Maya – thanks!

    Michael – yes, I have that recipe and it’s similar to this one. I think I might try kneading the dough more. I know people say not to, but I have a specific biscuit in mind.

    Chris – yeah, I will have to try again when I have more time. Nothing quite like the perfect biscuit :)

    Fiona – yes yes! I have a recipe waiting for me to test drive it… it’s a simpler version of beaten biscuits, but might do the trick? I like that Chuck didn’t want to run out of butter. Good man!

    Laura – oh, thank you for that tip. High altitude is always another variable to contend with…

    Lindsey – you go, woman!

    Bridget – hmmm, I’ll have a look at recipes for angel biscuits. Thanks!

    Cindy – thanks :)

    Spencer – nope, these are definitely not it because they will make crumbly biscuits. But thanks for trying to help me out :) I think they are just called silver dollar biscuits, but they are not *silver dollar biscuits* per se.

    Tartelette – yup, I have heard this often. Thanks!

    Melissa – Thanks for the recipe, I may have to give it a try. The thing is, I am starting to think that buttermilk isn’t an ingredient in the recipe I’m shooting for?

    Nicole – you’re welcome :)

    Kathleen – thanks. I sent a response via email.

    Erin – thank you!

    Kelly – I hear ya.

    Bee – thank you, sweetie. Yes, those biscuits are inviting you out to Boulder!!

    Mrs E – awww, you’re welcome, hon.

    Kevin – you should give them a try, you’re a pro baker! :)

    Katie – thanks! these were taken near Boulder Canyon.

    Beatrice – I think it might be time now!

    Aran – my dear, if you ever venture back to Colorado, I hope you’ll drop me a line. I’d love to meet up for lunch or go for a walk!

    Lisa – thanks, Mom :) These biscuits aren’t like Crum’s…

    Passionate Eater – she’s the best, isn’t she?

    Francesco – thank you, happy new year to you too! I did not try with mascarpone – that sounds really interesting though!

    Gretchen – ha ha, well, if I could do without the headache of redesign along with migration, it would be a cinch! ;)

    Mollie – Oh heavens, you have fallen for the trick of the thirteen Colonies. That being – everything is named the same damn thing! Gloucester is in Virginia, although every one seems to have a Gloucester. Sorry babe, if you go to Gloucester, MA, you will be sorely disappointed :(

    Donna – you’re welcome!

    Andrea – mmm, sounds good. I’ll see what he has to offer. Thanks!

    Pearl – thank you :)

    Asianmommy – it was even prettier in person!

    Cindy – you are to bleeping funny ;) xxoo

    Chez Us – the ham, THE HAM!!! :) It is the stuff of Gods…

    Deb – welcome to use real butter!

    Joanne – oh, I bet the snow there must be lovely. Good luck with the biscuits, they are quite a treat!

    Alexsandra – hmmm, I think if you search online for places that sell Smithfield ham, you might be able to order small cuts of it (like a pound or less). Places in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee – they will certainly sell some. Oh wait, I’ll plug The Peanut Shop in Colonial Williamsburg (where we buy gifts of ham to send to friends): Looks like they will sell online!

  50. » Blog Archive » Flaky Style Southern Biscuits says:

    […] She writes a fabulous food blog that I love and admire.  Her original recipe is here.  Go by it – or go at it with my changes.  She has wonderful pictures for a play-by-play […]

  51. Rhonda Butler says:

    I can’t believe I have found your Blog. I was just doing a google search in hopes to find the old Crums Bread and Butter Biscuit recipe and landed here. I have enjoyed reading all your recipes and can’t believe there’s someone out there looking for the quest to make these wonderful morsels! I grew up in Yorktown. I moved to NC in 1974 and my Mother still lives there. My gradmother was a Harper from Harpersville Road and we spent many days going to Crums for cookies and pastries and of course Christmas wasn’t Christmas without Bread and Butter Biscuits from Crum’s…….Like 10 doz biscuits and they could be gone in the flash of an eye! I wonder if The Jr. League has ever been able to get this recipe??? In my area of NC the League does lots of cookbooks and will aim to obtain old recipes….just a thought…..

    I think the biigest confusion most people have with this bread is that it’s inbetween a biscuit and a yeast roll. It’s a little flatter than a roll but opens nicely and doesn’t break apart.

    I wanted to find this recipe to give to my Mother for Christmas. I think it would mean a lot to her. As for the hams, well………you can’t eat Smithfield country ham without a bread and butter biscuit!!

    Feel free to email, I will stay on the search…..the angel biscuit might come close, but it’s not the real recipe!!

    Best of luck and I hope we find this old mystery that still lives in the Tidewater area!!


  52. jenyu says:

    Rhonda – some day, I hope to resume my search for the recipe. But yes, you’ve described it perfectly – it’s a cross between the yeast roll and biscuit. Good luck and if you find it, do let me know :)

  53. Betsy says:

    I am 63 years old and have yet to make the perfect biscuit, plus I try and watch my calories. Realizing that biscuits and extra calories are not compatible, I have decided to make them only when I have an incredible urge AND have the perfect recipe.
    I will try yours and the one that someone sent in. Hummm, more walking for me…………..
    Facinating to me that the search for the perfect biscuit is still ongoing!
    Love you pictures. I live in Midlothian, VA. and have had a ball with my camera during all these snowy days. Thanks for all your recipes and witty comment. Love it……………

  54. Anna says:

    The best biscuits I had was at the Bojangle’s S. Carolina, not too flaky and not too chewy. Really good!

  55. Chris says:

    Great recipe. But there is a place for crumbly biscuits. There’s nothing better than opening up a hot biscuit, slathering on some butter, then pouring some fine cane syrup over them. Of course you have to use a fork, and those crumbly parts soaking in that syrup are divine. Same goes for using hot tomato gravy over your biscuits. Flaky biscuits just will not work. (I know this is an older thread, but I couldn’t resist adding to it!)

  56. Brenda says:

    Jenyu and Rhonda, I am from Newport News and now live in Williamsburg. I remember all to well the Silver Dollar Crum’s Bakery biscuits. The first order of business in our house for Christmas was to order the biscuits for the ham and I remember the look, texture, and taste. Nothing compares to those biscuits with VA ham, a must at Christmas. I am a bread baker by hobby and have been searching desperately for something commercially comparable. I do agree that they are somewhere between a yeast roll and a biscuit. I have a recipe in my first bread book( which is about 30 yrs old), Sunset Cookbook of Breads, that has a “raised yeast biscuit” recipe and I believe it’s the closest you will come. The recipe also calls for buttermilk and a little sugar (in addition to the yeast) and after rolling, cutting and placing in the pan, you prick the tops with a fork ever so lightly. Try Googling “Sunset Cookbook of Breads Raised Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe ” and see if you find it. I hope this helps a little…

  57. Jeannie says:

    I have the Sunet book, I will be back to post the recipe :)
    Glad to help!

  58. Jeannie says:

    here you go, they are indeed the BEST-EST!

    Raised Buttermilk Biscuits

    Measure into a small bowl:

    * 1/4 c. lukewarm water
    * 2 tbsp. sugar
    * 2 cakes yeast, crumbled

    Sift together, then let stand 5-10 min. while preparing the other ingredients. Sift together into a mixing bowl:

    * 4 c. sifted flour
    * 2 tsp. baking powder
    * 1-1/2 tsp. salt

    Add: 1/4 c. shortening
    Using pastry blender, cut in shortening until it is in small pieces.
    Then add:

    * 1-1/4 c. buttermilk, warm
    * yeast mixture

    Mix to a moderately stiff dough. Turn out on floured board and knead lightly a few seconds to smooth dough. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness and cut into biscuits. Place biscuits barely touching each other in a greased baking pan. Prick the tops with a fork and brush with melted shortening. Let rise in a slightly warm place until biscuits are light and double in bulk, 30-40 min. Bake 425° for 12-15 min. Makes 2 dozen.

  59. Erin says:

    Loved this post, and then decided to look for my own favorite biscuit recipe online and found it. The Flying biscuit in Atlanta is amazing and this is their recipe. I’m going to make them tonight!

    3 cups all-purpose flour (*Note: a soft winter wheat flour, such as White Lily, works best)
    1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (it should be consistency of shortening)
    2/3 cup heavy cream
    2/3 cup half an half
    tablespoons half and half for brushing on top of biscuits

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

    2. Place flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into 1/2 tablespoon-sized bits and add to the flour. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.

    3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in all the heavy cream and half and half. Stir the dry ingredients into the cream and mix with a wooden spoon until dough just begins to come together into ball.

    4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times to form a cohesive mass. Do not overwork the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1-inch thickness. The correct thickness is the key to obtaining a stately biscuit. Dip a 2-1/2 inch biscuit cutter in flour, then cut the dough. Repeat until all the dough has been cut. Scraps can be gathered together and rerolled one more time. Place the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan, leaving about 1/4 inch between them. Brush the tops of the biscuits with 1 tablespoon of half and half and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Biscuits will be lightly browned on top and flaky in the center when done.

    Makes 8 to 12 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter.


    I just tried your recipe and I have to say I love the way my biscuits came out…they tasted great…however they didnt turn out very…they kind of went to the side and grew in that direction…but overall I am still very pleased with this recipe and will do it again probably tomorrow when these are all gone and hopefully I’ll get the hang of it and actually have some pretty ones like yours…Thank you…Christina from Vancouver, Washington

  61. Pam Blume says:

    I’m from Newport News and am having “butter biscuit” withdrawals! There was nothing like those with ham (and turkey with Miracle Whip). I am thinking about contacting Southern Living Magazine to see if they could do some research on the history of Crum’s butter biscuits (as we always called them) and also formulate the recipe. The closest I have found are the little biscuits from Dewey’s Bakery in Winston-Salem, NC. They bake all the Moravian goodies.

  62. Gullringstorpgoatgal says:

    Hej from Sweden!

    Since moving to Sweden, there are so many American classic food that i miss. Thank goodness I can cook many of them but biscuits have never been a strong point if mine. These look so light and fluffy, I just have to give them a try. Thanks for posting!
    I love you blog, recipes and beautiful photos!

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  64. Papa Tom says:

    I am an amateur chef, preparing mostly pastry type products for family, friends and a select few customers. My newly found (I am doing self study) culinary skills are rudeimentary but what foods I do make are Very tasty. I research and study each recipe and each ingredient. My OCD personality will not allow for me to serve any food that do not meet personal taste tests. I have used an old buttermilk southern bisquits recipe and made layers to produce the flaky layers like this recipe but I have to say, I made this one tonight with the butter in the layers (I even made them square) and this is by far the absolute tastiest and very easy buttermilk recipe in my collection. Thank you for sharing and I will most definitely be using it in the future to make them for all occasions that call for bisquits, including our family brunch in a week ! I love the uniqueness of them being square too.
    Thank You again,
    Papa Tom

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  66. Harry says:

    i was born and raised in Newport News, where my family had a restaurant and catering business for almost 50 years. For a good part of that time, we were neighbors of Mr. Crum’s bakery, in the original Newmarket shopping center at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Mercury Blvd. We must’ve bought many thousands of biscuits from Crum’s over the years, and used them for Smithfield ham biscuits for too many weddings and cocktail events to comprehend. (I remember, too, the treat of a big gingerbread man cookie from Crum’s, with raisins for eyes and buttons.) The smell of Crum’s was so distinctive I can still remember it, along with the white wooden door at the entrance. Kenny Crum’s biscuits were like none I’ve had since–they were layered and flaky and soft, with a dusting of flour on top and bottom. Perfectly flat, and I remember them as almost octagonal, rather than round–like the cells of a honeycomb. (Mr. Crum graduated from the apprentice school at the Newport News Shipyard, and I think he may have figured out that cutting a full sheet of dough with a sheet cutter shaped a bit like a honeycomb would allow the biscuits to be cut without any waste or need to re-roll. But that’s just a theory.) I’d love to have his recipe, but I’ve never been able to find it. What a shame the Daily Press or Southern Living never sought it out and published it–it’s really a piece of local culture.

  67. jenyu says:

    Harry – thanks for sharing your memories of Crum’s! I agree that it is such a shame that no one ever published that treasured recipe. I can close my eyes and taste those buttery biscuits. A huge part of my childhood. xo

  68. LeslieH says:

    I have been looking for the silver dollar biscuit recipe for years. I am from Newport News and have pretty much the same memories everybody here has about these biscuits. My mom ordered dozens of silver dollar biscuits in October to be picked up a few days before Christmas. My sisters and I would sit at the kitchen table buttering and stuffing these square little pillows, wrap them in foil to be heated later for mom’s Christmas Night Open House table. Yummy! I found a recipe that sounds close. My husband and I are going to make it tomorrow so I’ll let you know what I think. Here’s the link:

  69. LeslieH says:

    Everybody raved about the biscuits but I’m going to make em again but use butter instead of shortening.

  70. jenyu says:

    LeslieH – Yes, the angel biscuits recipe is from this blog and I have found that it is the closest thing to those silver dollar biscuits (but not quite the same). Glad everyone enjoyed them!

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