Blue ribbon biscuit-making tips from a familiar name
Sally Weisenberger doesn’t remember exactly when she won blue ribbons for her biscuits at the Kentucky State Fair. “I remember winning for both buttermilk biscuits and baking powder biscuits,” she says, “but I do not remember the date.”
It was more than 20 years ago, when she was at home with four children ages 10 to 19. Her husband, Mac, was working for his father as the fifth generation of Weisenbergers to run the family-owned mill in Scott County. Since then, her oldest child, Philip, has become the sixth generation to work at the mill.
But those winning biscuits were certainly made with the kind of soft wheat flour that makes Southern biscuits famous, the kind that have been produced at the mill since August Weisenberger, a German immigrant, built it on South Elkhorn Creek in 1865.
Sally’s tips for good biscuits? She says, “I handle the dough as little as possible. I barely knead it—just enough to keep the dough from sticking when rolling out with a rolling pin.”
And another: “I always use buttermilk and not the lowfat kind.”
Weisenberger Mill is at 2545 Weisenberger Mill Road, which is just off Leestown Road (U.S. 421) between Midway and Lexington. It’s open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon. You can purchase Weisenberger products online at www.weisenberger.com, and click on “Where to Buy” for a list of stores that carry their products.
Sally Weisenberger’s Blue-Ribbon Buttermilk Biscuits
2 C Weisenberger plain flour*
3 tsp baking powder
1⁄4 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄3 C shortening
3⁄4 C buttermilk (not lowfat)
Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add buttermilk. Mix with a fork until it holds together well. On a lightly floured surface, fold dough over about two or three times, making sure not to overwork the dough, and with floured hands, pat into a flat circle. Roll with a rolling pin to about 3⁄4 inch (or desired thickness). Dip the biscuit cutter into flour before cutting to keep biscuits from sticking. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a 450° oven for about 12 minutes. For soft-edged biscuits, place biscuits touching together; for crispy-edged biscuits, place them apart. You also can brush the tops with melted butter either before or immediately after baking. Makes 12 2-inch biscuits.
Sausage and Cheese Biscuits
Add 1 1⁄2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and/or 1 1⁄2 cups of cooked and crumbled sausage to the basic recipe above. Bake as directed.
*You can get the same excellent results using self-rising flour; just eliminate the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Easy Hot-Sweet-Sour Greens
2 or 3 slices bacon
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 C sugar
1⁄2 C vinegar, such as apple cider
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 lb greens, such as collard, mustard, and kale
Prepare greens by washing, removing stems, and cutting crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cook bacon in a heavy, deep pot until crisp. Remove to absorbent surface. Add garlic and cook a minute or two until aromatic and turning golden. Add sugar to pan with 1 Tbsp of water and stir to dissolve. Increase heat until the syrup turns amber. Add vinegar and crushed pepper (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel bits dissolve. Add greens and 1 Tbsp or so of water. Stir often so that leaves become coated with the vinegar mixture and the greens begin to wilt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until greens are cooked to desired tenderness (10 to 30 minutes). Crumble bacon into greens and stir. Serves 6.