Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Angel Flake Biscuits from the Family Recipe Box

Perhaps the best part of exploring old family recipes is the sense of comfort they can offer when it’s needed most. 

I have not felt well this week, and most food has turned my stomach. Not a happy feeling for a food writer who will try almost anything. Unfortunately, these past few days I could hardly look at food.

The only food group on the nutrition pyramid my stomach could handle was grain in the form of crackers and dried toast. As my “situation” improved, I wanted to expand my bread choices. Looking for comfort, I turned to Mamaw’s recipe box, where I found these Angel Flake Biscuits. Making this recipe was like receiving a warm hug from Mamaw even though she’s been gone for more than two years now.

In Mamaw's unique and beautiful hand writing, she noted the recipe came from her old friend Anita Farmer in 1986 on a visit to Bennett Springs, Missouri, which is a wonderful trout fishing spot. I was instantly intrigued by the use of yeast in the recipe, along with both baking powder and soda.

I did some research, but was unable to find the origins of Angel Flake Biscuits. (If anyone knows, please pass it along!) This seems to be a popular southern recipe from years past.

Mamaw’s recipe calls for the dough to chill for 12 hours before rolling and baking. Other recipes with the same ingredients say you can bake the biscuits right away or store the dough in the refrigerator for up to a week until needed. Some say to let the biscuits rise for 30 to 45 minutes before baking, while others just pop them strait into the oven.

I used my food processor to mix the dough, but it could easily be done by hand. The original recipe calls for butter-flavored shortening, but I just used plain shortening. I would have used butter, but I actually found recipes that warned against it, though none said why. I also used sour milk (1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup whole milk) instead of buttermilk because, really, who has buttermilk handy in their fridge?

I baked half of the recipe right away and placed the remaining dough in the refrigerator to bake the next morning—13 hours later. The biscuits made right after mixing tasted good, but were just a little dense.

The ones I made the next day were perfect! I took the dough out of the refrigerator, rolled and cut out the biscuits, and baked. I put some aside to see if letting them rise for 30 or 45 minutes made a difference, but it didn’t. In fact, the ones baked right after cutting were just what I was looking for—tender and delicious.

This biscuit recipe is perfect for a non-morning person like me. I can mix up a batch the night before and have wonderful, warm biscuits in the morning.

Thanks Mamaw!

Angel Flake Biscuits

1 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening, cut into pieces
2 cups sour milk or buttermilk

If using sour milk, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to a measuring cup and then fill it the rest of the way with whole milk until you reach 2 cups. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. In a separate measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast over the top of the warm water and allow to stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the shortening and pulse until it becomes like sand with just small pebbles of shortening. With the food processor running, pour in the yeast mixture and the sour milk/buttermilk and mix until the ingredients all come together. (This doesn’t take long.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times to form into a ball. Spray the inside of a zippered bag with non-stick spray and place the dough inside. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the biscuit dough to 1/2-inch thick and cut into rounds. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.


  1. I don't know where they originated, but I always heard they were called angel biscuits because the extra leavening from the yeast makes them so light and airy, it's as though they're from Heaven. These look delicious!


  3. Morgan, I came across angel biscuit recipes that had the same ingredients. I like your reason behind the name. I wonder where "flake" came from?

  4. I'm not sure of the origins but wow they look delicious! really flakey and light!
    Mary x

  5. I hope the winter uglies have finally passed you by. I'm really sorry to hear you have been sick. The biscuits sounds delicious and I'm going to make them for our Easter brunch. I hope you are having a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  6. Sorry to hear you've not been feeling well. That blows! But these biscuits look and sound amazing! You had my mouth watering. Old family recipes are the best =]

  7. Had a good laugh when I read your post....3 things always readily available in my refrigerator....Half & Half, Butter and BUTTERMILK!! lol

  8. I first had angel flake biscuits when we were on a weekend trip without the kids. We love southern Missouri and Arkansas just driving and exploring. We pulled into Cliff House Inn near Harrison Arkansas. The little waitress was as cute as could be when she spouted off the daily special Bar-B-Q brisket , pin-to beans and angel flake biscuits. We were sold. But the view out the restaurant Window overlooked the mountains of Arkansas was just stunning. My kids even made these for the county fair. Yummy stuff!