Marion Cunningham’s Baking Powder Biscuits

by Sarah on October 19, 2009

Sometimes breakfast for dinner is what’s on the menu. Particularly when there’s not much else in the fridge and you forget to thaw one of the many frozen pieces of organic grass fed animals in your freezer. You can’t just have cereal though, or a plate of pancakes. You’ve got to jazz it up a little. I’m talking about jazzing it up with homemade biscuits.

Now, don’t tell the Slow Food people, but I bought bacon at the grocery store this weekend. This is how to fancy up your store bought bacon. Lay it out on a sheet pan and grind copious amounts of black pepper on it. Then roast it for about 15 minutes at 350*. It’s nearly as good as Bledsoe’s bacon, and certainly better than straight out of the package.

Let’s move on to the carbs.  The decadant, delicious carbs.  Gather ye foodstuffs.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.  Did you know that baking powder has a shelf life of only three to six months?  It begins to lose it’s leavening ability after it’s opened, and it really loses it’s leavening ability if it comes into contact with water.  So don’t dip a wet measuring spoon into the baking powder, it’ll F it all up, and nothing will ever rise.

Add the shortening.  You can use butter, it’s more flavorful, but the shortening makes them flakier.  You can probably use a combination of both if that’s what you want to do.  I’d do 1 part butter to 2 parts shortening.

Mix the shortening and the dry goods together using a pastry blender or your fingers.  I just use my hands, but try not to warm the shortening too much.  It should look like coarse meal, with little pea-sized lumps in it.

Add all the milk in at once.

Stir it around with a fork, so that the milk becomes incorporated.

It will form a ball in just a minute.

Pour the dough onto a floured board, gather it together and knead the dough exactly 14 times.  No more, no less.

Pat the dough out until it’s about 1/2 inch thick.  Do not roll it with a rolling pin.

Cut out your biscuits.  I use a 2 inch circle.

I usually put them in greased cake pans so they are touching, but this time I just put them on a Silpat-lined sheet pan.  It worked fine and it was way easier to clean.

Melt a Tbsp of butter in the microwave and brush it on top of the biscuits.

Brush all the tops!  Have you seen these silicone brushes?  They are pretty awesome, I’d like to endorse them.  They’re heat resistant, which is handy for the barbecue.  Pop the biscuits in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

About halfway in, turn the pan so they cook evenly.  You can see how much they’ve risen already.

All done–brown and crispy on top, flaky and fluffy inside.

Dinner-breakfast is served.  Soft scrambled eggs with green onions, parsley, yellow bell pepper and extra-sharp cheddar cheese, peppered bacon and homemade biscuits.  Nom nom.

And a biscuit with jam for dessert.


*adapted from Marion Cunningham

Marion Cunningham's Baking Powder Biscuits


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening, or a combination of butter and shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Here are some yummy variations:
  • Cheesy Biscuits---add 1/2 cup grated or cubed sharp cheddar cheese to dry ingredients.
  • Cheese and Onion/Chive---add 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup chopped green onion or chives to dry ingredients.
  • Cheese and Pepper---add 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos to dry ingredients.


  • Preheat oven to 425*
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add shortening or butter/shortening combination and cut through with a pastry blender or your fingers, working quickly as to not warm the shortening. The flour mixture should resemble a coarse meal.
  • Add the milk all at once and stir around with a fork. It will form a loose ball. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead the dough 14 times. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut biscuits out, using a 2 inch cutter.
  • Now, you can grease a couple of 8-inch cake pans and set the cut biscuits into the pans so that they are touching. They rise a little better in the cake pan and don't tip to the side. Or you can just put them onto a sheet pan. I recommend the use of a Silpat or parchment paper if you use the sheet pan.
  • Bake them for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through so that they cook evenly.

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