The Recipe Box: Buttermilk Biscuits

About a week ago, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, my mom and I decided to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman, Ciaran Hind, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and many, many more. It might have been the rain, or the fact that the movie was very dark, very quiet, and very slow, but after falling asleep two or three times, we decided to call it quits and make biscuits instead.

Our biscuit recipe comes from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, which my mother has had for–I don’t actually know how long, but it was before I was born.

What it lacks in covers, a spine, and the back 50 pages, it makes up for in some of the best recipes of my childhood.

Clearly, the recipe has withstood the test of time.


  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable sugar
  •  cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 425ºF (220 C). Grease two 8-inch cake pans (or a baking pan, it works just as well). Put the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar in a bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

This is a pastry blender. It is your best friend if you make biscuits and pie crusts. You can get one for as little as 6 dollars on Amazon.

Add the buttermilk all at once and still just until the dough fowms a ball around the fork. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 14 times (it doesn’t really need to be this specific. Just knead it for a bit, and it will be fine). Pat until ½ inch thick.Cut into rounds with a two-inch cookie cutter. Place touching each other in the cake pans and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Happy face!

These biscuits are really delicious—especially with plum jam, like my mom bought when we visited Basildon Park (the location used for Netherfield Park in the Kiera Knightly Pride and Prejudice) with my sister two years ago.

These would be an especially good idea for tomorrow, which here in Utah is Pioneer Day, which commemorates the arrival of the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. My family is going fishing, and it should be fun—especially for my nieces. I’ll let you know how it goes!


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