|Cafe of Claudville, Patrick Co., VA|
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What is a "Cat-Head" Biscuit? I can assure you, "cat" is not an ingredient. They are light, fluffy biscuits as big as a cat's head, thus the intriguing name.
I have eaten my share of cat head biscuits, but I have not made them myself yet. This is the recipe I plan to use when I do.
Appalachian "Cat Head" Biscuit Recipe
adapted from recipe published in Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread & Scuppernong Wine:The Folklore & Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking
Makes six large biscuits.
- 2 1/4 Cup White Lilly All-Purpose Flour (not the self-rising variety)
- 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Double-Acting Baking Powder
- 1 Cup of Buttermilk, Milk, or Plain Yogurt
- 4 1/2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celcius).
2. Mix the flour, salt, soda, and baking powder together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
3) Add the lard, butter, or shortening a piece at a time, then mix it into the dry mixture thoroughly with a pastry cutter or two butter knives slicing in a scissor fashion. The finished mixture should have the consistency of course-ground cornmeal.
4) Now comes the tricky part--the mixing. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add all of the milk. Using a spoon, stir the mixture. Pay special attention to scraping the edges of the bowl so that the dry flour there has a chance to get wet. You only want to stir until the milk is incorporated into the dry mix and there are no large areas of powdery flour remaining. Don't over-mix here. The dough after mixing should be lumpy, sticky in places, and a bit shaggy in the driest areas. Using your hands, leave the dough in the bowl and carefully knead it about three times. Just lift it out as best you can, fold it in half, then press it down. You may want to sprinkle some flour over it to keep your hands from getting coated.
5) To make "cat head" biscuits (so called because they are large--about the size of a cat's head), simply pinch off a ball of dough about 2 1/2 inches across and pat it into a thick patty. Put the shaped biscuits into a stoneware pizza pan or large cast iron skillet (or on a cookie sheet). Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits are a light golden brown.