Pioneer Flaky Biscuits

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Pioneer Flaky Biscuits

Pioneer Day in Utah, our state holiday honoring the pioneers, is July 24th.  This day is celebrated differently by every person and every family. On this day, I think of my pioneer heritage and the relatives that crossed the plains.  Was it as hot for them as it has been for us this summer? Crazy part is, they wouldn’t have known the difference compared to our wanting to be in the air conditioning driving in our cars from place to place. 

My 4th great aunt, Harriett Decker Little Hanks arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 5, 1847.  She lost her husband along the journey and found herself a young widow of 20 years old with a son just a few months old.  She drove a wagon pulled by oxen and filled with mill irons needed in the Salt Lake Valley.  Besides driving the wagon all day, she milked 5 cows morning and night and baked bread daily for 15 persons, 11 of them men. 

From pioneer records we read that the bread dough was prepared in the morning and put into the wagons to rise along the day’s journey.  The bread was baked in the evening when camp was set up each night.  This recipe for biscuits may not be authentic but I enjoy sharing them with my family with gravy for our Pioneer Day breakfast in honor and gratitude for my relatives who never gave up and trekked through all kinds of weather with a good attitude and a song in their heart.  This biscuit can be used for biscuits and gravy, cobblers and dumplings, or with soup and chicken pot pies.  Enjoy your pioneer celebration and enjoy these biscuits.


Pioneer Flaky Biscuits

(Makes 12 regular size biscuits or 6 large biscuits)

2 cups packed bread flour

3 tablespoons buttermilk powder

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold or frozen butter  (2.5 ounces of butter)

¾ to 1 cup milk

  1.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Lightly spray a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cut in or grate butter into bowl.  Butter should look like coarse crumbs with some slightly larger chunks.
  4. Pour milk mixture over flour mixture and gently mix until just combined.  Start with a smaller amount of milk and add remainder only if mixture has dry spots.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ¾ – 1 inch thick.
  6. Cut shapes with either a circle biscuit cutter or desired shape square, rectangle, hexagon, etc.
  7. Re-rolling dough will make the biscuits tough.  Cut as many biscuits as possible with the first rolling.
  8. Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden.  Check after 10 minutes and then add 1 minute at a time until golden or desired look.


For a cobbler dumpling or shortcake type biscuit, add 2 tablespoons of fine granulated sugar along with the dry ingredients for a touch of sweetness.

Recipe adapted from Delightful Repast.

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