In many English speaking countries, the word "biscuit" refers to a hard cookie or cracker. However, in the United States biscuits are generally small soft, yeast-based or baking powder-based bits of heaven served with breakfast or dinner. Over the years, these wonderful creations have whetted many an appetite through...just filling (i.e. hungry bellies), topping (i.e. pies) and sopping (a cowboy's favorite - as in biscuits & gravy). Cowboy-style biscuits were rustled up by pioneers and overland travelers in makeshift ovens.
"Biscuit...The word derives from the Latin words "bis" (twice) plus "coctus" (cooked). By 1828 Webster defined the confection as "a composition of flour and butter, made and baked in private families."
The two main types of biscuits made by chuckwagon cooks were soda and sourdough. Their only method for baking was the Dutch oven. This portable iron pot sat up from the fire on three small feet. This allowed air to flow through the bottom. The lid was lipped, making it easy to pile heated rocks on top for more even baking. It was reliable but had no scientific temperature controls.
"Baking powder biscuits"
3 cups flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoon fat (lard or bacon drippings)
Approx. 1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Sift together dry ingredients, then rub in lard with fingertips, until flaky. Pour about a cupful milk to moisten. Turn out on well floured board and pat about 1/2 inch thicknesss. Cut with biscuit cutter and place in greased dutch oven that has been slightly preheated. Biscuits should be touching but not crowded. Place preheated lid on oven and cover with hot coals. Place on bed of good red coals and let bake about twenty minutes or until brown on top and bottom."
Or, for our conventional ovens!...Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.
Of course...with our sweet tooth here at Top50, we always add a little more sugar than recommended!! So, play with this recipe as you will!