How did an untrained cook discover the secret to making the perfect biscuit?  Her biscuits are so good,  Jackie Garvin was an honoree at the International Biscuit Festival and has a new book: “Biscuits: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American kitchen.” 

Learn how to make a great biscuit, plus other recipes using biscuits as a base — like Biscuit Pizza!!

Excerpted with permission from BISCUITS: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American Kitchen by Jackie Garvin. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Biscuits is available wherever books are sold, and for online purchase at


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Tavern Biscuits
Yield: about 3 dozen (2½-inch) biscuits
Preheat oven to 400°
This recipe first appeared in Mary Randolph’s

The Virginia Housewife

in 1824. The dry ingredients were listed in weights and not measures with which American home cooks are familiar. I weighed the dry ingredients and converted to measures. Soft winter wheat flour is lighter than standard wheat flour. I substituted ground ginger for mace because I had ginger on hand and rarely use mace. I estimated “a glass of brandy” to be four ounces. This slightly sweet biscuit has a marvelous flavor and the appearance of a historical biscuit.

3½ cups all-purpose soft winter wheat flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

½ cup brandy

½-¾ cup milk

Add flour, sugar, nutmeg, and ginger to a large mixing bowl and stir.

Rub or cut in butter until the flour resembles coarse meal. Stir in brandy.

Add milk until the dough is wet and forms a soft ball.

Turn out onto a well-floured surface. Roll out to rectangle ¼-inch thick. Cut with a 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour.

Gather scraps and repeat.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet that has been greased or covered in a baking mat.

Prick the tops of the biscuits a few times with the tines of a fork. Brush tops with cooking oil.

Bake for 17 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Check carefully during last few minutes of baking to make sure the bottoms are getting too brown. Remove them if the bottoms are browning too much.

Skillet Pepperoni Pizza
with Biscuit Crust
Yield: 1 (12-inch) pizza
Preheat oven to 450°
Pizza was a lunchroom favorite during my school years. The lunchroom ladies made yeast dough topped with a seasoned meat sauce and then covered in cheddar cheese. Before take-out pizza shops were all the rage, the choices for eating pizza at home were to make a scratch pizza or purchase a store-bought pizza kit that had small jar of sauce, grated parmesan cheese, and the makings of dough. Now-a-days, any flavor pizza your heart desires is but a phone call away. I made this pizza today with my grandchildren. Take-out pizza can’t hold a candle to the pleasure of cooking with kids in the kitchen, especially when the kids call you Nana. The red daisy in the photo was picked by my little Ella as soon as she got to my house today. You don’t get that with pizza delivery.

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup buttermilk

Olive oil


½ cup pizza sauce


2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

3 to 4 ounces pepperoni slices

Grated Parmesan cheese

To make the dough:

Place flour, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder in a bowl. Stir with hand. Cut or rub in butter until flour resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until dough is wet. Turn out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle dough with flour. Gently knead, adding more flour as needed, until dough is no longer sticky.

Coat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with olive oil. Place dough in skillet and sprinkle with olive oil. Press

dough evenly over bottom of skillet and partially up the side. Stick several times with the tines of a fork. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for 5 minutes.

To assemble:

Spread pizza sauce over dough. Top with mozzarella cheese. Add pepperoni on top of cheese.

Bake in a preheated 450° oven for 15 minutes, or until edges of crust are brown and cheese has melted.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before eating.

Baking Powder Biscuits
Yield: 12 to 15 biscuits
Preheat oven to 450°
The commercialization of baking powder dramatically changed the preparation technique of biscuits. Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, a mild acid such as cream of tartar, and a moisture-absorbing ingredient such as cornstarch. It’s used as a leavening agent. Prior to the invention of baking powder in the nineteenth century, potash was used as leavening. The leavening capability of potash isn’t nearly as potent as baking powder so the rise is less. Also, potash was homemade so it wasn’t consistent in its composition. Commercially prepared baking powder was a trustworthy leavening agent that offered the same leavening action as yeast but acted immediately and didn’t require the long rise times needed with yeast. Self-rising flour contains baking powder and all-purpose doesn’t. Recipes for Baking Powder Biscuits are ubiquitous while basic biscuit recipes using self-rising flour aren’t nearly as common. Perhaps the nostalgia of Baking Powder Biscuits has garnered fame yet to be shared by biscuits made with self-rising flour. Baking Powder Biscuits are historically significant. Self-rising flour arrived on the scene later but isn’t an inferior product.

soft winter wheat

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup unsalted butter, diced and chilled

1 cup buttermilk

Place flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix together with a fork or whisk.