My Grandmother Thompson’s Biscuits

The 4th of July is almost here and summer is in full swing! It’s strawberry shortcake time and what do you need for strawberry shortcake? Biscuits! This recipe was handed down by my great grandmother Thompson. My mother now makes these biscuits and she’s the expert — they are light, fluffy, and melt in your mouth. I hope you will enjoy these as much as the Thompsons have for generations.

The Recipe

by volume                                                    by weight

2 cups all purpose flour                      240 grams flour

1¼ teaspoons cream of tartar        4 grams cream of tartar

1½ teaspoons baking powder        6 grams baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                3 grams baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt                                 3 grams salt

1/4 cup cold butter                              57 grams butter

1¼  cups milk                                         300 grams milk



Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the dry ingredients together until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps.

Dice the butter very finely and use a fork to cut it in to the flour mixture.

The mixture should have a slightly pebbly look and you should not see any lumps of butter covered in flour.

Add the milk and stir JUST until the milk is incorporated. It will look undermixed –that’s what you want! You want to stir and handle this dough as little as humanly possible!

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and fold over once or twice to get the pieces to all stick together. This will not be smooth and uniform and that’s ok. Gently pat the dough to about 1 inch thick.

Use a cutter dipped in flour to cut rounds out of the dough. Cut them as close together as possible because this is not a dough that remains tender when cut from a second time. Place the biscuits in a buttered pan and put a dot of butter on the top of each biscuit.

Bake until the biscuits are golden on top. In my oven this takes about 20 minutes. These are perfect right out of the oven but can also be served later in the day if desired.



In the interest of full disclosure (that means I don’t want a phone call from my mother when she sees this recipe!), the original recipe calls for Crisco and that is what she always uses. That’s what Gram always used. I don’t particularly like Crisco and so I don’t use it in anything, but that doesn’t mean you can’t! You will make delicious, fluffy biscuits if you use Crisco and you will also get fabulous biscuits if you use lard. Take your pick — all work very well.

These biscuits are not sweet. We always serve them with dinner and then use the extras to make strawberry shortcake. If you are going to make these specifically for shortcake, add up to 1/2 cup of sugar to make them more of a dessert biscuit. Also sprinkle a bit of sugar on top before baking. You can also substitute buttermilk for the regular milk if you would like a bit of extra tang.

These biscuits are also very flexible as far as the temperature necessary to cook them. If you are serving them with dinner at your oven needs to be at 350F for other items, bake them at 350F! They will be just fine and will take just a few minutes longer to brown.

These biscuits have been made in my family for generations. If you manage to have any leftovers (not very likely!), split them in half the next morning and grill them with a little butter in a frying pan until golden brown and crunchy. Top with some jam (raspberry preferred at my house) and you have a delicious breakfast!


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