Edna Lewis’s Biscuits Recipe (2024)

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I fell in love with true southern cooking while living in Augusta, Georgia. The southern cooks there would only use the soft wheat flour that is a product of the south -- White Lily and Martha White being the only two I know of. I have found this to make a huge difference in my biscuits and would never use the white or unbleached AP flours so readily available on our northern shelves.


The lead-in notes to the recipe have a helpful suggestion: "Be sure to use homemade baking powder, which you can make easily by sifting together 2 parts cream of tartar with 1 part baking soda. It leaves no chemical or metallic taste."


I just read the below from a home baker who experimented with butter v. lard v. oil v. margarine (ick). He found no diff between lard and butter, and surprisingly not much between oil and butter. He also tested all sorts of other types and amounts of ingredients. I found it helpful although of the love of a biscuit is of course, subjective.....


King Arthur makes a self-rising flour that is made from soft wheat. I have had great success using it for making biscuits (I add no baking soda or other leavinging).

A. Randall-Packer

I use a sharp knife and cut the dough into squares, no re-rolling or reshaping necessary. No one minds the square biscuits either.


Joe, good lard (called leaf lard) is nothing like the hydrogenated (and bad for you) bricks sold in supermarkets. Leaf lard is the pristine white lard from around the kidneys and when rendered is soft, odorless and tasteless. It is simply incomparable in baked goods for tenderness and flakiness. Buy online, or get some from a farm or butcher and render it yourself,which is dead easy. You'll never lokk back.


There are only 2 degrees of separation from Miss Edna and me. My goddaughter, Lindsey, was taught how to make these from Scott Peaco*ck who got the recipe from Miss Edna. They are the best. There is a charter school in Grant Park (Atlanta) where the students actually get these biscuits and other fab food every week.


Any non-aluminum baking powder, such as Rumford, will also not give your baked goods that bitter metallic taste.


According to what I've read, "3 cups sifted flour" means 'sift first, then measure' . The preparation instructions imply 'measure first, then sift'. This is a very big difference.


Most recipes for Royal Baking Powder include corn starch. Was this left out by mistake or on purpose.


https://www.southernfoodways.org/oral-history/southern-grains/ - I hope this revival of Southern grains takes root. Soft white wheat is the foundation of Southern biscuits.


These are lovely. I used butter because I don't like the taste of lard. Next time I'll add more milk because they are a tad dry.


Lard is definitely NOT cleaned up bacon fat. Leaf lard, which Miss Lewis preferred to use, is fat around the kidneys and is remarkably pure. Bacon fat is more of a grease. It is nor pure - bacon is made from pork bellies that have been processed via salty water brining and or apple wood smoking or similar processes.


As a substitute for buttermilk I use kefir since only lowfat buttermilk can be found in the Pacific northwest. Also, edna lewis' version calls to only stir the dough until combined rather than the additonal minutes in the nyt directions.


I ended up using Rumford which is made by the same company.


Can't take any baking recipe seriously with ingredients in volumes


what’s sweet milk? regular whole milk (cow)? or sweetened condensed milk? is royal baking powder different than davis baking powder?


I am thinking about using self rising flour in this recipe. Has anyone else substituted out? If so, should I omit the baking soda or powder?


Used butter because I didn't have lard and my Janie's mill bread flour, otherwise followed as directed, including making the cream of tartar/baking soda mix. Yielded a lovely, rustic biscuit with nice rise, even the 2nd batch that I re-rolled out.


We are from Texas and Alabama. We love Southern food and have even taken road trips in quest of the perfect biscuit, gumbo, bread pudding, etc. The best biscuit award (from us) is the biscuit at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, NC. A little trouble to make, but you freeze them and bake them straight out of the freezer. Sublime. Lewis' are good but not as good as Tupelo.I've tried leaf lard but it does not stay cold when mixing. It melts in your fingertips. So I use butter.


Made these with butter instead of lard and they were perfect and delicious.

Jan, London, UK

I've recently had a lot of success making English scones (what Americans call biscuits - and which are different from US scones, which are more like UK rock buns) in my air fryer, baking at about 185C (365F) for 12-13 minutes. They've turned out beautifully, and it's very easy to adjust the time and temperature as they bake.I'm going to try this recipe, but will veganise it, using Trex (UK vegetable shortening) and vegan milk + lemon juice to make buttermilk.

Michael T.

Made the baking powder.....Needed 5 more grams of salt.

Leading Edge Boomer

Does it suffice to use baking powder that does not contain aluminum? That's what I've been using for years.

Michael T.

Yes of course , ....we use Rumford as a staple for most things ....but for the fun of it , made our own as per the recipe here. Easy to make , and works well.

SF Cook

Melissa - It’s a quirk of English. ‘sweet’ milk (regular milk), as opposed to ‘sour milk’ (buttermilk)

Melissa Burton

What is sweet milk? I am so confused. Is it implying sweetened condensed which seems wrong or whole milk? Does anyone know what it means?


Cardboard, indeed.

John L. Ghertner

Is vegans who grew up in the south w lard and Martha White “with hot rise” miss the good old days. Up North I use cake flour which helps but is not the same as southern wheat. I use oat milk unsweetened, Rumford and Earth Balance with nearly the correct results. I also aim for thicker biscuits but because I am feeding a familiar up to 14 they don’t get to be 1 1/2” high. Then A bit of sorghum and I am almost a kid again.


Part 2continuous eating of it that raises lipid levels. Clearly the best biscuits I’ve made in a lifetime of making and eating them.


Part 1Points about biscuits. 1. You can get the right protein content by mixing AP and pastry flour. 2. Kneeling is required despite many recipes treating them like cake. 3. I’ll never buy baking powder again. 4. DON’T poke holes. The trapped air is what makes them rise when the steam from the wet dough reaches the baking powder. 4. Lard is flakier, but butter tastes better. 5. To the snarky statin person, biochem clearly shows that an occasional cholesterol load is sloughed off. It’s

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Edna Lewis’s Biscuits Recipe (2024)
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