Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

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Cracker Barrel Part 2: How to Avoid the Shame of Cracker Barrel Biscuits

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 11:12 pm on Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Cracker Barrel has such a reputation for serving good-old, down-home, southern cooking, that it’s a real shame about their biscuits. Bless Their Hearts, they do their best, I’m sure. But as I mentioned below, their biscuits just don’t measure up to my standards, at least. Rubbery, a little mushy, and just not flaky or tender at all.

Cracker Barrel could save themselves a lot of embarrassment if they used my recipe for biscuits. Only, I can’t claim it as mine, because it comes from the side of a can.

What makes these biscuits is what’s in that can. Bakewell Cream is a miracle. It can substitute for baking powder in any recipe (they have instructions on the can for that as well). But the real magic of Bakewell Cream is that it makes what are hands-down the most amazing biscuits in the world!

I first heard about Bakewell Cream from a friend a number of years back. She told the tale of an event she and her husband at the time attended in the South, one where most participants stayed in their RVs during the festivities. There was a potluck supper one night, and she dared, Yankee Northerner that she was, to bring biscuits.

Biscuits are the ultimate test of a Southern cook’s skills. If you can’t make light, white, fluffy, tender biscuits, you might as well move north of the Mason-Dixon line. The family biscuit recipe is guarded closer than the gold in Fort Knox, and a daughter can even have a hard time getting her mama to pass it on to her. So there was my friend, surrounded by Southern wives who had pride in their cooking and their biscuits – and her biscuits were being snatched up and devoured by their husbands like there was no tomorrow.

Apparently, not much was said about it that night, though I’m sure a lot of interesting conversations went on in the Southern RVs. It wasn’t until the wee hours of the next morning that my friend started getting visitors.

She’d hear a timid tapping on the RV door. When she went to open it, there was one of the Southern wives, who would say “Good morning”, then stutter and stammer a bit before shyly whispering “Could you please tell me the recipe for those biscuits?”.

One Southern wife would leave; a few moments later, another shy “knock-knock” at the door, and a repeat of the above scene. Apparently, this continued on until most of the Southern wives had been to visit her. And I’m sure the ones who didn’t dare show their faces at her trailer that morning, must have tried to get the recipe from the others later.

Given a story like that, I had to try the stuff, of course. I found a can at Shaw’s Supermarket, and tried the biscuit recipe on the can. The results were astounding.

Never have I seen such high, puffy biscuits. The outsides were golden brown; the insides were white as the driven snow, tender, moist, flaky, and not the least bit mushy. The flavor was…heaven. Pure and simple, these biscuits were everything that biscuits were supposed to be, and nothing that they weren’t.

Here, from the side of my can of Bakewell Cream, is the recipe. I suppose you could try it with ordinary baking powder, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results. Consider yourself warned!

Bakewell Cream® Biscuits

Ingredients:

4 cups flour
4 tsp. Bakewell Cream®
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups cold milk

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F.
  2. Mix and sift dry ingredients.
  3. Add shortening and mix with pastry blender.
  4. Add milk all at once, and stir quickly with a fork. (Some flours may require a little more liquid to make a nice soft dough).
  5. Turn out on floured board and knead 5 or 6 times.
  6. Roll or pat to 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Cut with biscuit cutter.
  7. Bake at 475 F. for 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and leave in oven for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown. No peeking! You don’t want any heat to escape from the oven for this step!

Place the biscuits into a basket lined with a clean kitchen towel and cover them to keep them warm. Serve immediately! Your guests will want more, and for those you like, you might want extra cans of Bakewell Cream on hand to give out – or maybe not – let them think you’re a Biscuit Goddess!

Folkcat’s tip: One of the secrets of good biscuits is handling the dough as little as possible. Ingredients should stay cold to keep the shortening from melting into the flour, which keeps biscuits from being flaky; kneading must be kept minimal to avoid working up the gluten in the flour, which makes biscuits tough.

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