Beaten biscuit

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Beaten biscuit
Flickr stuart spivack 8254492--Beaten biscuits.jpg
Alternative names
Sea biscuits
Place of origin
United States
Region or state
Southern United States
Main ingredients
Flour, salt, sugar, lard, cold water
Cookbook:Beaten biscuit  Beaten biscuit

Beaten biscuits are a Southern food from the United States, dating from the 19th century. They differ from regular American soft-dough biscuits in that they are more like hardtack. In New England they are called "sea biscuits",[1] as they were staples aboard whaling ships.[2]

Characteristics and preparation[edit]

The dough was originally made from flour, salt, sugar, lard, and cold water, and beaten with a hard object or against a hard surface. It is pricked with a fork prior to baking and cut smaller than a regular biscuit.[3]

How long the biscuits are beaten varies from one recipe to the next, from "at least 15 minutes"[1] to "30 to 45 minutes."[3] The beating these biscuits undergo is severe: they are banged with a "rolling pin, hammer, or side of an axe";[1] or they are "pounded with a blunt instrument...[even] a tire iron will do...Granny used to beat 'em with a musket";[4] one book "instructs the cook to 'use boys to do it'"—that is, beat the biscuits vigorously "at least 200 times."[5] Besides ensuring the proper texture for the biscuit, "this beating also serves to vent the cook's weekly accumulation of pent-up frustrations."[4]

Uses[edit]

These biscuits were traditionally used in "ham biscuits", a traditional Southern canapé, where they are sliced horizontally and spread with butter, jelly, mustard and filled with pieces of country ham, or sopped up with gravy or syrup.[4][5] They are sometimes considered "Sunday biscuits" and can be stored for several months in an airtight container.[4] Beaten biscuits were once so popular that special machines, called biscuits brakes, were manufactured to knead the dough in home kitchens.[4] A biscuit brake typically consists of a pair of steel rollers geared together and operated by a crank, mounted on a small table with a marble top and cast iron legs.

Due to the amount of work required to make them, beaten biscuits are no longer popular.[6] Ham biscuits are still widely found in the United States but are made with standard biscuits or dinner rolls.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Villas, James (2004). Biscuit bliss: 101 foolproof recipes for fresh and fluffy biscuits in just minutes. Harvard Common Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-55832-223-3. 
  2. ^ Biscuit bliss By James Villas page 14
  3. ^ a b "Beaten Biscuit". Encyclopedia. Food Network. Retrieved 2009-04-27. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d e Alvey, R. Gerald (1992). Kentucky Bluegrass country. UP of Mississippi. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-87805-544-9. 
  5. ^ a b Claiborne, Craig; John T. (FRW) Edge, Georgeanna Milam (2007). Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking. Athens: U of Georgia P. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-8203-2992-5. 
  6. ^ Andrew Smith, Bruce Kraig, ed. (2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0199734962. 
  7. ^ McWilliams, Mark (2012). The Story Behind the Dish: Classic American Foods. Greenwood. pp. 117, 118. ISBN 978-0313385094.