My childhood best friend, Beth Carey, had a grandmother from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I spent a lot of time with her after Beth’s mother died of breast cancer, just before Beth and I entered 6th grade. Her grandmother spent a good bit of time caring for Beth and her brothers and painting a fabulous mural on the wall of their living room. I spent a lot of time at Beth’s house and it mostly was a fend for yourself affair. Every so often beaten biscuits made by Beth’s grandmother appeared. Beth-always delighted. Me? Not so much. I preferred the fluffy southern biscuits of my mother’s southern heritage. A drop biscuit even. These hard overgrown crackers? Not so much.
Of course, the thing about growing up is realizing why these were special to Beth and more why so many people love them. I have to admit, every so often I get a craving for beaten biscuits and wish Beth’s grandmother was around to make some.
This recipe is not quite the same of course. Grandmothers add love and magic to foods-and this is just a recipe from “My Favorite Maryland Recipes”, 1964. They work though. Of course, you do have to beat the love into them and it is more than a good workout to make them.
Maryland Beaten Biscuits
2 pounds flour
6 ozs lard
scant teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
pinch baking soda, size of pea (no larger)
Work all ingredients together well, have dough stiff. Beat 20 minutes with iron mallet. To shape biscuits, squeeze dough through hole made by thumb and forefinger, pinch off and pat down a little. Place on baking sheet and prick three times with fork. Bake in oven about 400 for 25 minutes.