A Hometown Recipe
I was born on Maryland soil. As were my father, my mother, my grandparents and all of my great grandparents. That’s as far back as I know for certain, but my father’s side arrived on the eastern shore of Maryland around 1700. My children were born on Maryland soil as well; however, it was a baggie of dirt from my brother’s yard that I tossed under the delivery room table in Newark, Delaware. You do what you have to do.
One of my earliest food memories was a biscuit my grandmother made. They’re called Beaten Biscuits, and they are a food that used to be well-known on the eastern shore of Maryland where my family is from. I always thought that Beaten Biscuits were exclusively a Maryland thing, but someone recently showed me an article about beaten biscuits in Tennessee. They looked a little different. Regardless, I will not go as far as to say that knowledge of Maryland Beaten Biscuits is a litmus test for determining ones Maryland lineage, but I have found it be a pretty accurate indicator myself.
Putting aside my children’s sketchy claim to Maryland, it is the one recipe that I insist they master. The name might seem kind of curious, but the dough is actually beaten. My grandmother used an axe handle, but when I started making the biscuits, I just grabbed for a veal pounder. Whatever you use, you have to be prepared to pound the dough for 30 minutes.
In addition to the pounding device, you will need:
● 4 cups of all-purpose flour
● 1 teaspoon of salt
● 1.5 tablespoons of lard
● 1 to 2 cups of cold water
Sift the flour and the salt.
Cut the lard into the flour. A pastry blender comes in handy here.
Slowly pour in the water and mix/blend until you form a dough.
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and make sure that it is dry enough to work. Make sure you have a super sturdy surface that can take a pretty good pounding and get to work.
Pound for 30 minutes. If you have other folks around, take turns with the pounding. It makes the process easier. I have a buddy that in his family they have handed down the specific table that they use to pound the biscuits on.
Hand roll into a big snake of dough, and then pinch off ping pong ball sized pieces of dough. Give these a quick roll into a small ball.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet or jelly roll pan.
Now, this is an important step in the tradition, you need to prick the top with a fork. The idea is to mark the biscuits rather than a step to make them taste better. The marks you place in the top need to be your own unique pattern.
Bake in a hot oven around 400 degrees for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until they get just slightly brown.
* These are not your typical biscuits. They’re not going to be light, fluffy, and flaky; they are going to be dense, chewy biscuits. Sure, they’re not everyone’s idea of a perfect biscuit, but they’re an authentic, regional tradition and a fun baking experience to share with those you love.