Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mix It Up

I use baking mix a lot. A lot. I even make tortillas with it although until I get a tortilla press they’re going continue to look a little uneven (can someone loan me an abuelita for about, I don’t know, six months? Just until I learn to pat out tortillas by hand. I really believe the art has to be gained at grandmother’s knee).

My preference is Bisquick, which has been around since the Depression, but some of the other brands available in the U.S. are Pioneer, Jiffy and of course King Arthur. You can even make your own if you want a little more control over what goes into it; for example, many people don’t care for what they perceive as a slightly chemical aftertaste caused by double-acting baking powder with aluminum. There is a recipe for a home-made mix at the RecipeZaar site and you could use a non-aluminum powder such as Rumford’s.

The earliest Bisquick recipe book in my collection is from 1956 and some of the recipes were obviously thought up by a corporate home economist determined to prove that it could do anything (including soufflés and gravy), but thankfully it also offers tried and true recipes for biscuits, muffins and dumplings. I often make these muffins with blueberries, since we have a freezer full of berries that were hauled back for me from a you-pick place in Wisconsin by a man I met in my dentist's waiting room. This is the Midwest. People here do things like that.


Heat oven to 400° (mod. hot). Blend together 2 T. sugar, 1 egg, ¾ cup milk, 2 cups bisquick. Then beat vigorously 30 seconds. For richer batter, add 2 T. more sugar, 2 T. melted shortening or salad oil. Fill 12 well greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15 mins.

I make the richer version, with melted butter, and fold in 1 cup of blueberries which I have rinsed and then tossed with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar. Remember that muffins, like all quick breads, toughen up if you overbeat them, so don’t use an electric mixer, use a fork or a spatula, and stop when the batter is just blended. It will look rough but it evens out in the oven.

The second recipe book was published in 1964 and in addition to the usual instructions for biscuits, waffles, etc, it has a chapter called “From Faraway Places.” One of the recipes is for a blatant and probably awful fake of French puff pastry but the scones are pretty good.

Holiday Fruit Scones

2 c. Bisquick
½ c. raisins or currants
2 T. Sugar
1 T. grated orange rind
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 425° (hot). Mix Bisquick, raisins, sugar and orange rind. Stir in milk. Toss dough onto lightly floured cloth covered board. Roll out into a 9” round. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 12 wedges and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 10 min. Serve hot.

(HINT: Christy at the Southern Plate recommends using a piece of waxed paper instead of the cloth, which can then be folded up and neatly deposited in the garbage, and I wish I’d learned that tip long ago)

I use heavy cream if I have it instead of milk, knead the dough about a half dozen times (it will be raggedy coming out of the bowl but don’t over-mix and don’t over-knead). I also cut the round into eight wedges, not twelve.

These are good warm but don’t keep at all well. Eat them the same day. Heck, eat them the same morning. Substitute snipped dried apricots and a half a cup of chopped pecans for the raisins and you’ve got something really special. People will think you went to a lot of trouble. Don't disillusion them.

The last Bisquick cookbook that I own is from 1993 and includes a recipe for that modern American staple, Impossible Cheeseburger Pie. I’ve made a couple of the different Impossible Pies (there are quite a few recipes on the Betty Crocker website) and they are fine, but the recipe I reach for most often is the one for Streusel Coffee Cake, which hasn’t changed at all in the last fifty years. It’s a breakfast staple when I have overnight guests.

Streusel Coffee Cake

2 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
2 T. sugar
1 egg

HEAT oven to 350°. Grease a round 9 inch pan. Prepare Streusel topping (below); reserve.

MIX remaining ingredients; beat vigorously 30 seconds. Spread batter in pan. Sprinkle with topping.

BAKE 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

8 servings.

(Notice how recipe writing has changed over the years?)

Streusel Topping

1/3 c. Bisquick
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
½ t. ground cinnamon
2 T. firm margarine or butter

Mix baking mix, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in margarine with fork or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

This is good for that last half cup of leftover fruit or jam (or even applesauce). Just gently fold it into the batter before baking in a well-buttered Bundt pan.


~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hi Shay,
Thanks for stopping by with the info about your yarn. I've got some in my stash!
My Mon has the 1956 red version of the Bisquick cookbook too.

Anonymous said...

I too use Biscuit a lot and have been creating a lot of my own recipes. Your scone one really has me interested, I love scones and will be trying that one in the near future... probably tomorrow morning :) Nothing like a cuppa tea and hot scones.
Keep the recipes coming.. I'm always looking for new things to try.

Amy said...

I've always wonderd what bisquick is, we don't have it here but oh how i love your vintage cookbook :-)

Leti said...

I saw a tortilla maker at Fiesta.Do they not work? I need to know, before I buy one..
Just love your recipes.

Shay said...

I want to buy a tortilla maker because right now I am rolling out my tortillas by hand with a rolling pin, and they look terrible! A tortilla maker would be better, I just haven't gotten around to buying one.

My tortilla recipe is very simple, 1 cup flour, 1 cup Bisquick baking mix, 1/2 cup water, and knead the mixture hard for about 10 mins. Makes 6-8 tortillas.

Gina said...

Oh my, memories...I made lots of impossible pies and bicuits and what-have-you from Bisquick as my kids were growing up. I don't even buy it anymore as I live alone and pretty much subsist on salads and broiled...somethings. LOL! Almost bought some at Christmas time as they make the best sausage-cheese-ball appetizers but thought my son was bringing them to the carry in so I didn't. Now my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Gina said...

Also wanted to mention that several years ago, again when said kids were home, I made my own tortillas, hand patted and everything. It did take me awhile to get the hang of it but I just takes so danged long!

Shay said...

Gina, I love those sausage/bisquick cheeseball thingies...but people up here don't make them. It seems to be a "southern thang."

Dont' know why.