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Recipe: angel biscuits

Beggars can’t be choosers. While it’s a lean year for snow in our part of Colorado, I really ought not complain. There haven’t been any “sick” or “epic” days to crow about, but at least I can ski. We’ve got the climate, the topography, and the big resorts. It’s embarrassing what I now consider to be a sub-par day.

weekday skiing is where it’s at

and we even found a little scritch of powder

It’s a good feeling to be satisfied with something that isn’t perfect. Some people have accused me of being a perfectionist, but I am not. I don’t have the patience to be a perfectionist. I do have high standards and expectations when it comes to certain things, but perfection – no. About a year ago, I set out to reproduce a favorite biscuit that I could only get at home. These were called silver dollar biscuits from Crums Bakery in southern Virginia and they would sell out during the holidays weeks in advance because every good party must have silver dollar biscuits stuffed with thin slices of Virginia ham.

you didn’t think i’d come back from virginia without some good old country ham, did you?

cut the shortening into the flour

I discovered that flaky southern buttermilk biscuits were NOT silver dollar biscuits. They were a different beast entirely. Some of my readers suggested different kinds of biscuits and the one that seemed the most similar to the silver dollar biscuits were angel biscuits. I searched for several recipes, bookmarked them, and promptly forgot about the biscuits.

pouring the yeast-buttermilk mixture

rolling out the dough

While I was in Virginia visiting my parents this month, they asked me if I wanted ham to take home. Ham. Ham is gold in Virginia. And when my parents refer to ham, they often mean a whole leg of country ham that is almost as big as my dog. As tempting as it was, I got a smaller 5 pound hunk of cooked Virginia ham. Of course, now that I’ve burned through half of it, I’m starting to regret not having taken a whole leg home :) With this precious stash in my refrigerator, I figured it was time to test out that angel biscuit recipe.

i made large biscuits

they baked to golden loveliness

The angel biscuit dough has both yeast and shortening. You only knead it 3 or 4 times and then roll the dough out for cutting. The yeast offers a texture that I prefer to the straight up buttermilk biscuits. The little blobs of shortening help to give it some flakiness too. I didn’t need to make any adjustments for altitude and it was pretty straightforward and easy to whip up a batch.


the ham biscuit marriage

Overall, the biscuit is more tender with a hint of sweetness that pairs better with The Ham. It is a cross between a soft dinner roll and a traditional buttermilk biscuit. These aren’t the silver dollar biscuits, but they are quite close and I’m satisfied with that. Now I just need to secure a steady supply of Virginia ham!


Angel Biscuits
[print recipe]
from Taste of Home February/March 1993

1/2 oz. active dry yeast (2 packets)
1/4 cup water, warm (110° – 115°F)
2 cups buttermilk, warm (110° – 115°F)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsps salt
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup shortening
butter, melted (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the warmed buttermilk and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir together. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in yeast/buttermilk mixture and mix well. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough lightly 3-4 times, then roll out to about 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut with a biscuit cutter (I used 3-inch, but small ones would be great for appetizers – just roll them a little thinner or else they’ll be crazy tall). Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours. Bake at 450°F for 8-10 minutes (9 minutes worked like a charm for me). Lightly brush the tops with melted butter (I skipped this). Makes about 30.

44 nibbles at “satisfied”

  1. Mercedes says:

    Wonderful combination! Although I have never attempted to make those biscuits myself, I like combining Ham (or rather, a spanish type of called “lacón”) with a bit of olive oil and smoked bittersweet paprika (also Spanish, for that matter) and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (Spain? yes!!! great olives over here). It makes a great pair as well… it just came to my mind now… and I had to tell you :)

  2. Anda says:

    That makes me really hungry. Will surely give them a try over the weekend and we’ll see about the pairing.

  3. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    Nothing better than ham and biscuits. Lovely.

  4. Kristin says:

    Ooh, the crumb on that biscuit looks so soft & pillowy as opposed to the usual craggy! I think I’ve got a recipe or two for Angel biscuits stashed…must be time to make one, or yours.

  5. Emory says:

    Check out for some outstanding ham offerings from Edwards. I’m an ex-pat Virginian living in Colorado, and when I’m “jonesing” for tastes of home, that’s where I buy.

  6. Amy says:

    Country ham on a warm biscuit and skiing? Perhaps there couLd BE no more wonderful marriage of things.

  7. Hsin says:

    That ham is making me drool. Being half Chinese and half German-American on top of growing up in a densely Italian-American area has ingrained in me a love for almost all pork products.
    Even from a distance I can appreciate and remember the taste of Virginia ham. Some people are unfortunate in that not only do they not have access to such goodies, they also have never experienced them.

    Fortunately, I am not one of them, and I’ve been blessed with opportunities to eat in various spots on the globe.

    As for skiing, I have not been so blessed. Campgaw mountain (if you went there you’d get out your magnifying glass and say WHERE is it? oh, you mean the little rock I just tripped over?) was the closest skiing facility to where I grew up, and it measures its elevation and its longest run in hundreds of feet.
    But that’s still better than where I live now. In this part of the midwest, the terrain is flatter than my chest.
    The good thing for me is that my favorite outdoor activities are running, hiking and riding horses, so I’m not pining for real mountains, although I do miss hiking in the little mountains of upstate New York.

    You live in a gorgeous place, and I’m glad you can appreciate it. Life is so much better that way, isn’t it?

    And I get to visit them vicariously through gorgeous blogs like this, and I certainly appreciate the time and talent behind them. Makes my life better too.


  8. Debbie says:

    The biscuits look delicious and I know how popular ham biscuits are here!

  9. Carolyn Jung says:

    I remember having Chef Scott Peacock’s version of this at Slow Food Nation in SF a couple years ago. The best biscuits I ever ate. And the way they paired with the sweet-salty ham was just incredible.

  10. Valérie says:

    Wow, they look so fluffly! I should NOT have looked at this on an empty stomach!

  11. Kate @ Savour Fare says:

    Ham biscuits are one of the (few) perks to visiting my mother in law in Virginia. These look really good!

  12. Lisa says:

    Ayntime, you want Va ham, just a phone call, and it will be at your door in 2-3 days if the USPS keeps their promise (?)

    Does your biscuits taste close to the Crums Bakery’s? If it does, then you have arrived. I’d order 10 dozens in early December. :)

  13. Memoria says:

    Oh, man!! I saw these biscuits on foodgawker before seeing them on your site. They woke me up! YUM!

  14. Jun Belen says:

    Wonderful post and lovely blog. I have to try this biscuit recipe. One of the best things in life: biscuit + butter!

  15. Cookie says:

    These look wonderful! I just recently started making my own biscuits and it’s the most comforting thing to have on a weekend morning. I can’t wait to try your version!

  16. Georgia.Pellegrini says:

    What a beautiful shade of golden yellow!

  17. Mulan says:

    We don’t have ‘biscuits’ in the UK but I am intrigued! I may try making some soon! The ham looks truly delish! xxx

  18. Dacia says:

    Country ham and biscuits was my favorite breakfast when I was a kid, but I haven’t had it in ages! Thanks for the reminder–I’ll have to try this recipe and make my own!

  19. Carla says:

    I’ve heard of “silver dollar pancakes”, but not biscuits? Can you please tell those of us from the south what that means to you? I think we need to try your recipe for the angel bicuits for our next pot roast recipe as they would serve a grand purpose for sopping up the gravy. Light and fluffy got me to pay attention here.

  20. Dani says:

    Lordy lordy, a good country ham biscuit is among my favorite things in the world!

  21. Y says:

    Wow, look at that crumb on those biscuits! I want. Wish you’d posted this closer to Christmas when I had some really decent ham scraps lying around. :P

  22. Jill says:

    MMMmmmmmm, I can just imagine what they taste like with a little butter and raspberry or thimbleberry preserves!

  23. Manggy says:

    Omigosh! A gem from Taste of Home magazine! Back in mid-2000s it had devolved into a mix a bunch of nasty stuff together recipes. I’m glad to see it was once a great, truly homey publication. I see the search for silver dollar biscuits continues? In the meantime, those biscuits (and the ham of course, and something sweet for me ;) look plenty satisfying!

  24. Lisa says:

    You’ve made me wish I was back in Kentucky. When I visited there a number of years ago some of my favourite food memories were of biscuits and sausage gravy, country ham, grits and pancakes. I’m going to try these biscuits, they look amazing.

  25. Abby says:

    I have the HARDEST time making biscuits, despite my Southern blood. In my family, angel biscuits are actually yeast rolls!

  26. Melissa says:

    Ohhh those look so good with the ham. Jealous of even your 5 pounds worth!

  27. Mrs Ergül says:

    What you made has attained perfection in my books and to me, I will be glad if I’m 75% as good as you are!

    I’m sorry for the lack of powder in your area! It must be disappointing! But, may the coming year be better!

  28. jenyu says:

    Mercedes – that sounds lovely!

    Emory – thanks! That’s a good tip for anyone looking for real Virginia ham. Of course, my mom is my insider ;)

    Hsin – thanks :)

    Carolyn – oh hon, I suggest you try them with salty Virginia ham :) No sweet in it at all, but it is soooooo good – I promise!

    Kate – oh!!! ;) at least there are a few perks – hee hee.

    Lisa – um, kinda close. Not too bad, but not exactly the same. They’re quite good though :)

    Carla – the silver dollar biscuit is just the name of a light and fluffy (but not flaky like a traditional buttermilk biscuit) biscuit that is slightly sweet and a little yeasty that I find only in southern Virginia at a particular bakery. It’s a little pillow of heaven :)

    Y – maybe next time? xoxo

    Manggy – I had never even heard of the magazine before. If I become motivated enough, I might just try subbing a few ingredients to see if I can achieve the silver dollar biscuits but… there just isn’t the time to experiment these days :(

    Abby – you are a riot ;)

  29. Fuzzy says:

    I believe that Surry, VA is the heart of Ham in this world. I believe that “com’pny biscuits” are the best vehicle to serve some good fried country ham sliced translucent thin by your local variation of a straight razor.

    I believe I found you due to your hosting at TNS, and immediately loved your blog.

    Perhaps we can talk biscuits someday. I use lard for texture and consistency in my biscuit, and keep a tub of frozen lard (from locally raised pastured humanely slaughtered all natural no added hormones or antibiotics blah blah blah piggies) in my freezer. I also use unsalted butter in everything by default, or mix the two together rather than use shortening, though I’ve eaten many a fine biscuit by someone who did use the shortening.

    Feel free to email me to discuss other variations in biscuit recipes.

    an NC native country boy,

  30. Kristin says:

    I want to know more about Crums Bakery. Can I order biscuits from there and where is it at in south Virginia… I want to stop in!

  31. jenyu says:

    Kristin – Crums is no longer in business. I believe the daughter of the original Crums bakery baker is now selling the biscuits at Baker’s Daughter in Gloucester, VA.

  32. nomnom :: missing a few ingredients :: April :: 2010 says:

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  33. Brenda says:

    In looking up Baker’s Daughter on the Internet to get the phone number, it’s no longer in service.

  34. Jen says:

    Hi! My inlaws live in F’burg, VA and we weren’t able to go back this year for Christmas. So we are staying home in CO. My father in law sent us a country ham that we cooked up yesterday and I am making the biscuits as we speak for a Christmas party tomorrow. They are resting right now. I will let you know how they turn out! Thanks for a great looking recipe!!

  35. Jen says:

    They are absolute perfection. This is definitely my biscuit recipe! Thanks so much.

  36. Allie says:

    Thanks for a great recipe. Since moving to Mexico City from Baltimore, MD I’ve met with challenges in the differences in baking at high altitude. Imagine my excitement when I saw that you didn’t have to make any adjustments to the recipe. I’m originally from Virginia and I have memories of this type of biscuit (paired of course, with Virginia ham). The photos made my mouth water. Sadly, Virginia ham is impossible to find here in Mexico, so I have to use Serrano ham as a stand-in.

  37. Apron Appeal says:

    So is this the end of your biscuit adventures? Or is there more? I can’t find a search box on your site so I thought i’d just ask. I’m on the hunt for the perfect biscuit. I wish I knew what a silver dollar biscuit is so that I had a baseline to gage the rest of your biscuit experiments off of.

  38. jenyu says:

    Apron Appeal – there’s a search box at the top of the page.

  39. says:

    So glad you got to visit Virginia . Smithfield Va ham is what I love and try not to get it too often as I tend to want to eat way to much. Your biscuits are beautiful.

  40. pbrock11 says:

    Great looking and delicious biscuits! As for the ham, you may want to check out Kites Ham in Madison VA,(they have a website) they can ship anywhere. I’ve enjoyed there ham all my life and no others have compered yet. Hope you give them a visit. Thanks again for the biscuits!

  41. Ginger Davila says:

    I know that to really give buttery biscuits their ‘flakiness’ that one keeps the butter cold…. it works the same for lard / shortening too… when my great grandmother made her biscuits she always kept a large bowl with cold water at the table…she would place about 2 or 3 ice cubes in the water and then add her measurement of lard or shortening… when it came time to use it she would simply lunk it out and add it to the recipe… OH MY! the flakiness! I thought I would pass on her little tip…and it’s never failed….. :D

  42. Christina says:
    These may be a possibility for your quest.

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