Authentic “Cathead-style” Southern Biscuits

Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,155
Location
central NC
#1
mamas-buttermilk-biscuits.jpg

(Photograph by Taylor McBride)

If they like biscuits in heaven, my grandma is probably making a big ol’ pan of her buttermilk biscuits every morning. There’s no telling how many biscuits she must have made in her long lifetime. She didn’t roll her dough and cut them out with a cutter. They were what most Southerners call “cathead-style” biscuits. Grandma pinched off a hunk of dough and rolled it out in the palm of her hand before placing it on a baking pan and placing them into the hot oven. I think she would be happy that I’m passing this recipe along to you, my CWT foodies and friends.

Ingredients:
4 cups self-rising flour, sifted
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup lard

Directions:
Preheat oven to 500°. Lightly grease a baking pan or cast-iron skillet with lard or butter.

Fill a sifter with flour, about 4 cups. Sift flour into a large, wide bowl. Make a well in the center of flour with your hand. Add lard and buttermilk. Squish the lard and buttermilk together with your fingers until lard is in small clumps.

Place fingers straight down into the center of the bowl and start making small circular movements. Continue to stir, in small circles, while gradually working in flour from the sides of the bowl. You’ll work in most of the flour, but probably not all it.

Sprinkle some of the excess flour on top of the dough ball and fold the dough into itself a time or two. Knead the dough just a few times until it’s fairly smooth, and then shape into a thick rectangle.

Clean any dough off of your hands before proceeding. Flour both hands prior to shaping and forming the biscuits.

Use your fingers and pinch off a section of dough that’s slightly larger than a golf ball. Roll this ball in the palms of your hands to smooth it out using slightly firm pressure at first and then lighter pressure as it becomes a bit sticky again. Try not to overwork the dough. Drop the ball back in the flour and coat lightly with flour. Roll the ball in the palm of your hand for another second or two and then flatten it like a hamburger patty.

Place the biscuit dough on your greased baking pan or in a cast-iron skillet. For softer biscuits, make sure sides are touch. For biscuits with crispier edges, space them out. Repeat the process until all the dough is used or your skillet is filled. Use the back of your fingers and gently press down on each biscuit. Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Brush melted butter on top of each biscuit.

Cover with a clean towel and let rest for a few minutes prior to serving. This will set the butter and make the biscuits extra tasty.
 

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Jimklag

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Mar 3, 2017
Messages
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Location
Chicagoland
#4
Cathead biscuits are so called because they are about the size of a cat's head. My mom, my wife and my mother-in-law all made them exactly the same as Ellie's recipe except my OCD mother-in-law used a cutter because all her biscuits had to be exactly the same size and they all used shortening instead of lard - Crisco or Snowdrift. I've had them made with lard, with shortening and with bacon grease. All were excellent.
 

Jimklag

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#6
Those look just like my North Carolina Granny's cathead biscuits. :smile:
My wife/mom/mom-in-law all just called them buttermilk biscuits, but they are most definitely cathead biscuits. They all also made them in cast iron skillets, just like they did their cornbread.
 

Zella

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May 23, 2018
Messages
1,957
#7
My wife/mom/mom-in-law all just called them buttermilk biscuits, but they are most definitely cathead biscuits. They all also made them in cast iron skillets, just like they did their cornbread.
That's very interesting! I guess it's just a North Carolina term for a food made across the south. :smile:
 

Northern Light

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#12
It's likely Martha White.
The way these biscuits are made is counter to everything I have ever been taught about making biscuits. Mixing the milk and lard into together makes me think they must be overworked and then over worked more in the shaping. That said they look delicious and fluffy.
I always use butter for my biscuits and cut that into the flour before adding the milk. I need very lightly a few times and them pat the dough out and cut with round cutter. You can see why this seems so different to me. I want to try these to see how they turn out because they sure look tasty.
We do no have self rising flour up here in the Frozen North, so I will have to see if I can find a way to make it. Oh Google!!!!!! No salt? Or is it in the flour? My recipe has a bit of sugar in it too.
 

Northern Light

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#14
@Northern Light, White Lily Self-Rising Flour is blended with leavening and salt. I bet you can order it on Amazon. Self-rising flour is also great for making pancakes, muffins, waffles, etc.
Thanks, I'll check it out. My favourite flour is called Robin Hood. People from Maine drive over here to get it because it is made with Canadian hard wheat and makes better bread than American flour, they say. I believe it has something to do with the gluten structuring.
 

Northern Light

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#15
Okay, a little research reveals that White Lily is cake flour, so that means there is a lower gluten content. Ergo, the extra working of the dough will not make them tough, as it would if you used all purpose flour, which is what I use for my biscuits. Now the recipe and the instructions make sense. I'll just crawl back into my whole...sorry...sorry...sorry
 

Zella

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#16
Okay, a little research reveals that White Lily is cake flour, so that means there is a lower gluten content. Ergo, the extra working of the dough will not make them tough, as it would if you used all purpose flour, which is what I use for my biscuits. Now the recipe and the instructions make sense. I'll just crawl back into my whole...sorry...sorry...sorry
For what it's worth, my Granny who swears by White Lily has always warned me you can still overwork the dough. She doesn't use or go by a recipe, so people who want her to teach them her recipe--and there have been many over the years--get an in-person lesson. She told me the handful of folks who just never could get it right wouldn't leave well enough alone and kept working the dough long after she told them it was ready. (They never got invites back for a second lesson. :laugh:)

So, I don't think your question was a bad one at all! :smile:
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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May 12, 2010
Messages
29,214
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Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
#17
I have meant to reply to this thread on flour. I recommend four brands. They have their proponents. I have used all four in my baking and find all very good.

They are Pillsbury, White Lily, King Arthur and Martha White. I hope to post history on each.

There is thread on King Arthur and a cookbook they publish which is most helpful for those who bake.
 

Norm53

Corporal
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
324
Location
Cape May, NJ
#18
View attachment 295940
(Photograph by Taylor McBride)

If they like biscuits in heaven, my grandma is probably making a big ol’ pan of her buttermilk biscuits every morning. There’s no telling how many biscuits she must have made in her long lifetime. She didn’t roll her dough and cut them out with a cutter. They were what most Southerners call “cathead-style” biscuits. Grandma pinched off a hunk of dough and rolled it out in the palm of her hand before placing it on a baking pan and placing them into the hot oven. I think she would be happy that I’m passing this recipe along to you, my CWT foodies and friends.

Ingredients:
4 cups self-rising flour, sifted
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup lard

Directions:
Preheat oven to 500°. Lightly grease a baking pan or cast-iron skillet with lard or butter.

Fill a sifter with flour, about 4 cups. Sift flour into a large, wide bowl. Make a well in the center of flour with your hand. Add lard and buttermilk. Squish the lard and buttermilk together with your fingers until lard is in small clumps.

Place fingers straight down into the center of the bowl and start making small circular movements. Continue to stir, in small circles, while gradually working in flour from the sides of the bowl. You’ll work in most of the flour, but probably not all it.

Sprinkle some of the excess flour on top of the dough ball and fold the dough into itself a time or two. Knead the dough just a few times until it’s fairly smooth, and then shape into a thick rectangle.

Clean any dough off of your hands before proceeding. Flour both hands prior to shaping and forming the biscuits.

Use your fingers and pinch off a section of dough that’s slightly larger than a golf ball. Roll this ball in the palms of your hands to smooth it out using slightly firm pressure at first and then lighter pressure as it becomes a bit sticky again. Try not to overwork the dough. Drop the ball back in the flour and coat lightly with flour. Roll the ball in the palm of your hand for another second or two and then flatten it like a hamburger patty.

Place the biscuit dough on your greased baking pan or in a cast-iron skillet. For softer biscuits, make sure sides are touch. For biscuits with crispier edges, space them out. Repeat the process until all the dough is used or your skillet is filled. Use the back of your fingers and gently press down on each biscuit. Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Brush melted butter on top of each biscuit.

Cover with a clean towel and let rest for a few minutes prior to serving. This will set the butter and make the biscuits extra tasty.
Will try this with the help of my 5 daughters. Can they substitute butter for lard w/o harming the recipe?
 


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