Cat Head Drop Biscuits – And How Your Mama Did It Just Right

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This is a recipe that is always considered a treat at my house, met with the same zeal as a dessert even though it is just a bread. A variation on my Mama’s hoe cake, she often mixed up the same batter and made drop biscuits instead. When I first served hoe cake to my in laws, hot from the oven with generous helpings of homemade apple butter, they declared it a hit. They loved the crispy outer layer and soft as clouds biscuit inside. But the next day when I made them drop biscuits (the same recipe, prepared so that there is more of the crispy part), they assured me that the drop biscuits with apple butter were their new favorite.

Hoe cake recipes vary widely.  A lot of people make it with corn meal or use more traditional methods of preparation (actually cooking it on a hoe). Every now and then a reader will respond to a recipe telling me it just isn’t like their mother’s. Sometimes they will go so far as to tell me I am doing something flat out wrong because the recipe varies in some way from how their Mama did it. It’s these comments that stand out the most to me because my heart just aches for the folks that say them. I understand there is a lot more to what they are saying than ingredients and preparation methods.

“It’s not like Mama’s” is not so much about missing the food as it is missing the person.

I feel the same way even though I am fortunate enough to still have my mother with me. She was the one who taught me how to cook and as a result, I cook just exactly like she does. Anyone could taste a dish made by Mama next to one of mine and not be able to tell a bit of difference. Still, my cooking to me just isn’t Mama’s.

I want to make one thing as clear as possible : How your Mama made it is the right way. No one will ever cook for you like your Mama did and I’m surely not here to try. But on the same token, Southern Plate is a singular website run by a singular person and as a result, when I bring you a recipe I’m going to bring it to you how My Mama made it, which is the only right way for me.

I know how much a Mama can mean to a person and I hope I can help bring back some of those memories from time to time, maybe by telling you a little of my childhood or my mother’s childhood that reminds you of your own in some way. I hope when this happens that it brings a smile to your face and most importantly, I hope when you make a recipe of one of yours or my loved ones, that it helps to bring a bit of their spirit into your kitchen again.

Your Mama will always be a better cook than you, me, Martha or Julia. There was never any competition.

At the end of this post in the comments, I’d really like for you to share any memories you’d like about your mamas and how they cooked for you. Tell me about your Mama’s heart, her sense of humor, lessons she taught, or about how good it made you feel when she wrapped her arms around you.

Most of all, tell me how your Mama did it just right.

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For this, you’ll need: Self rising flour, vegetable shortening, and milk.

Isn’t it amazing how all of the best Southern recipes have the fewest and most simple of ingredients?

Just think about all of the food channels and fancy cookbooks touting “quick and easy” that have ingredient lists a mile long!

All we need to do is look to the old days when folks used what they had on hand.

If you’d like to know how to make your own self rising flour, just visit my Frequently Asked Questions page.

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Now take your ugliest baking sheet,one with a bit of a lip around the edges,and pour some vegetable oil on it.

You just need enough to coat the bottom.

You know that really ugly baking sheet you have that you make sure you don’t use when company comes? That is the one we want for this. Mine is so old and ugly I covered it in foil so you wouldn’t see! Bless it’s little heart, its a workhorse of a pan though! I normally do not cover my pan in foil so don’t feel that you have to.

Place that baking pan in your oven while it preheats to get the oil good and hot.

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Measure your flour into a bowl.

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Add your shortening.

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Cut your shortening into the flour by repeatedly pressing down with a fork and stirring it up a bit as you do so.

I’ve mentioned before that you can buy a fancy pastry cutter for this but I find a long tined fork works just as well and I don’t have one more thing to keep up with. Simple is better here at Bountiful.

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It’ll look like this when you are done.

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Now pour in your milk.

I used the very last bit of milk I had for these drop biscuits! Been so busy lately I haven’t had time to get groceries.

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Stir it up until you have a batter that is just a little softer than regular biscuit batter.

It will be lumpy but that is perfectly fine so don’t go frettin’ over it.

Katy calls these “grumpy biscuits” because of how they look when baked.

She sure does love to eat them though!

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Drop globs by large spoonful onto heated baking sheet.

The oil should be hot enough to sizzle a little bit when you add the batter.

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Now tilt your pan a bit until some of the heated oil pools in the corner and spoon a bit of that oil over each biscuit.

This will get us nice and crunchy tops!

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Here are our drop biscuits all ready to go.

These are pretty good sized ones and this recipe ended up making about eight of them.

If you make them a little smaller you could get a dozen.

Bake at 425 until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

Drop Biscuits

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Drop Biscuits

Serve warm with butter, jelly, or homemade apple butter! YUM!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Pour a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of a large baking pan and place in oven to heat.
  2. Cut shortening into flour well. Pour milk in and stir until wet – add a little more milk if needed.
  3. Drop by large spoonfuls onto well heated pan and spoon a bit of hot oil over each one.
  4. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until browned.
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Submitted by Southern Plate reader, Kathi.

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Now,~settles in and leans forward with interest~ tell me bout yer Mama! Can’t wait to read! As always, feel free to talk amongst yourselves as well. If you’d like to reply to someone else’s comment, just click “reply” beneath what they wrote.

Gratefully,

Christy :)


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Comments

  1. Melissa Dommert says

    My Mama also made her biscuits in a biscuit bowl that she used for only that purpose, making a well in the middle, adding shortening and milk to make the dough and pinching it off into biscuits. If I close my eyes,I can still see her do this even though she has been gone for 15 years. What I loved the most with those biscuits was her Tomato Gravy. Here’s her recipe.

    Mama’s Tomato Gravy

    This special family recipe is truly a taste of Cajun country where folks are already sitting at the table drinking coffee and eating breakfast by the time the rooster crows. Mama (Patsy Paul) made countless batches of biscuits and tomato gravy in her lifetime. I miss her every day. When I’ve had a rough day and need to feel close to her, I come home and make biscuits and tomato gravy and I’m reminded of her love for her family and for cooking. I’m sure she learned to make this from her Mother, Carmen Inez Shirley. I know it’s just simple biscuits and gravy but for me this is “the dish” that puts my feet back under my Mama’s table.

    4 tablespoons bacon or sausage grease
    3 rounded tablespoons flour
    2 cups water approximately
    ½ small can tomato paste (about 3 oz.)
    Salt and pepper to taste (not too much salt)
    Hot buttermilk biscuits

    In a skillet, stir flour into grease over medium-high heat. Let flour cook and brown, keep stirring, don’t let it burn. When roux has browned, pour water into skillet, while stirring with a whisk. Whisk in tomato paste until well blended; when gravy begins to thicken reduce heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may need to add a little more water if gravy becomes too thick.

    Serve with love over hot buttermilk biscuits along with bacon or sausage for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Morning, noon or night, you’ll feel the love because your heart and your tummy will be full.

    Some folks use chopped fresh or canned crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce in place of the tomato paste.

    • Kay Cornett says

      I was about to cry reading this and thinking of my mama and my granny. Both were great cooks and my granny taught mama how to make the tomato gravy. When I came to Ky and mentioned it, they never had heard of it. I guess Granny made it when she didnt have milk to make the gravy. It was good. My mama is 91 and in a nursing home now. When I go see her, the first thing she wants to know is have I had anything to eat today. She imagines she still cooks but hasnt for several years now.
      These posts make me want to get in the kitchen and make the biscuits and gravy..

  2. Michelle says

    Whenever I fix rice,I always fix extra……I always fix extra cause my Mama always fixed extra…..she taught me to put butter and sugar on that rice and it was always such a treat, I was lucky enough to have my mother until I was about 19 and then she was diagnosed with Alzheimers and mentally she wasn’t really there anymore…she was sick for 8 years and passed away when I was 27, we never had the chance to be friends which I had so looked forward to. But every time I fix rice , I fix extra and I think of my Mama like she used to be and I’ve passed the rice treat on to my own kids and they love to hear stories about my Mama and my childhood and I am so thankful I have the memories I do.

  3. shauna jones says

    My Mama invented “shoe box chicken”! When we were little on weekends we would go for “day trips” with our grandma and aunt and have a picnic (I know now cause we couldn’t afford to eat in a restaurant). She would get up early and instead of being woke to the smell of bacon frying we would smell chicken and know it was gonna be a great day. No tupperware back then so to keep the chicken warm, she would line a shoe box with foil and carefully stack that fried chicken in, roll the foil over the top, put the lid on and tie it with a shoe string like a christmas package, load up the box in the picnic basket with cans of pork-in-beans, with forks to eat from and fruit cocktail with spoons and wash cloths for napkins. No paper plates for Mama! We would find our favorite spot (sometimes by car and sometimes by foot) and have our wonderful shoe box chicken. We would play a while and then go back home with our forks, spoons, greasy napkins and a warm feeling of love.

  4. says

    Momma used to make these a lot. We called them “dinosaur biscuits,” and she served them with hot syrup (sugar and water boiled). We opened a hot biscuit, threw a slab of butter on top, and poured the hot syrup over the butter. These are fork-and-knife biscuits, for sure. :-)

  5. says

    These are my daughters favorites. She calls them Rocks because they look like it. And we make them big. Christy, I am so lazy, I use Bisquick. Now I gotta go make some. Think I’ll had a handful or two of shredded cheese to the dough. MMM-MMM-MMM-MMM-MMM

  6. Mary says

    Well, You taught me how to make ‘hoe cakes’ now I find I can make biscuits the exact same way, can’t wait to fix them for supper tomorrow.
    Heck, I don’t think I can wait until tomorrow I will whip up a batch after Church tonight.
    I am a senior citizen but I am not to old to learn new things..
    Thank You so much

  7. Pat says

    I love what you’ve said about our Mamas! Mine is 90 (or as she says “almost 91″) and still cooks biscuits every day!

    You wanted to know about our mamas, about how they cooked for us and about their hearts, but you don’t have enough space for me to tell you about that. I’ll just say that her heart is so full of love that THAT is the reason she still cooks every day, at almost 91. People who know her know that they can go by and have a biscuit and bacon almost any time. Her life has been one of sacrifice for others and I’m blessed to call her Mama.

    Thanks for the wonderful things you’ve allowed us share with one another.

  8. Sheila Anne says

    I make my drop biscuits in a cast iron “biscuit maker”; heavy, heavy cast iron; it’s round with 8 round biscuit “holes” to put the dough into; they rise more like a cupcake, instead of spread out; which ever way you make ‘em:cast iron biscuit maker, or an old cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet, they are wonderful. P.S., I cut in olive oil and/or cold butter, instead of shortening.
    LOVE your column and your face book thingies. Thank you!

  9. Jessi says

    I’m blessed to still have my mother with me as well. In fact she reads all your posts and loves your recipes as much as I do. And she’ll read this message I’m sure and laugh at me some more when she calls. I remember well the day she taught me to make biscuits. Mine turned out much “grumpier” than hers. And I was disturbed enough by that to ask why my biscuits look like they have arthritis or something!! So for years I would hear “some of your arthritic biscuits sure would go good with this”. Of course I remember this every single time I make biscuits now, and it never fails to make me smile. Thanks Mom, for one of my favorite memories <3

  10. says

    All of these great comments about you Mothers makes me miss mine. I lost her 10 years ago she was almost 87. When we were little (11 of us kids) she made gravy and biscuits, oatmeal, bacon, and sausage every morning for breakfast. sometimes she would cut up bologna and put it in the gravy or cut up tomatoes in it. My Mom loved to cook and to bake. Everybody wanted to come to our house to eat because my Mom made 3 big meals a day. We never knew we were poor cause we ate better than anyone we knew. She taught me to cook b4 I started school. I would love to spend 1 more day in the kitchen with my Mother.
    Thanks you Christy for posting some of the recipes my Mom made while I was growing up.

  11. says

    Hi Christy, These biscuits reminded me of a fun story I like to tell about a big family dinner with my husband’s aunts, uncles, and cousins in Winchester, TN. They had a big affair everytime we came to visit as if we were the king and queen of something, but that is a different story. Those aunts and cousins were the queens and princesses of country cooking for me. So like you.
    The biscuits were amazingly delicious. I asked who made them and Eddie’s cousin said in her wonderfully southern voice, “I did.”
    I asked her for the recipe and here it is. Christy, you must read it in your best southern voice for full effect. :-)))
    “Well, you take a cup a’ self-risin’ flour, a hen egg of crisco, and just enough milk to make it right.”
    Thirty-nine years later, I am still using that recipe, but it will never be as good from my kitchen as it is from Patti’s.

  12. Jo-Ellen Breedlove says

    These stories remind me of “how it went” in our family. I could make a meat loaf that everyone would think was good but I would say that my mother’s was always better. My mother would say that she never could make her’s as good as my grandmother’s. And when my grandmother was still alive, she’d tell you that her’s wasn’t as good as her mother’s! My great-grand mother lived to be 95 years old & my grandmother was 104 when she passed away. We were very blessed to have our good cooks around for a very long time!!!

  13. David Cole says

    How much oil is in the bottom of the pan? I needed enough to be able to spoon some on top…that caused almost a frying effect on the biscuits. They were still very good, just a bit concerned about the oil levels in the pan… I used a pizza pan and it worked fine.

  14. Megan says

    i loved these. i added cheese and my pickled jalapenos to a batch for my husband and they were a hit. but i was thinking that next time i’d try adding some salt. how much do you think would be a good amount for this recipe?

  15. Cory says

    When me and my little sister where in elementary school. Our momma would get up extra early on the first day of school and make us breakfast. What always made it special was she would break out the her wedding china from when she married my dad. I really need to give her an extra squeeze for that next time I hug her.

  16. kim stepp says

    I just love these stories. My mom passed young. She was only 52. I was only 18. I too never had the chance for the grown up friendship. I do remember her bread pudding. It was wonderful! Ive never since
    been able to find a recipe as good as hers. I remember one time, I was wanting some so bad. She
    use to use day old bicuits to make it. She had none, but she made biscuits special just so she could make me that pudding. That was just 1 of many special things she did for me. She’s been gone for 23 years now, and I still miss her very much.

  17. Freda says

    My mom always made these – and apologized to company that they weren’t “pretty” biscuits. Oh my – wish I had some hot out of the oven right now! My brother and I always fought over who got to lick the bowl!

  18. Lacy says

    This recipe is delicious! Just fixed up half a batch to test how they taste, and I will definitely be doubling the recipe to fix for my family tonight! Yummy! Perfectly light & fluffy. Definitely rate this recipe a perfect 10!

  19. Margo Randall says

    Both my parents taught me to cook; my father having taught my mother when they married. Later, my mother learned some of her mother’s recipes and passed them on to me as well.
    My mother paid me the highest compliment before she passed away by telling me that I made her recipes better than she did, and some of them even tasted like my grandmother’s.
    There is no greater compliment than that.
    Thank you, Christy, for your website. It reminds me of my family.

  20. Kim says

    Christy!! Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!! My granny, who is from the south, used to make drop biscuits and chocolate gravy for us when we would go to visit her in the summer. That was always the hilite of our visit.She passed away 4 years ago and this is the last thing she cooked for me when I went to visit her as an adult! :) Brings back good memories!!!

  21. Vickie Hill says

    When I was growing up (in the 60′s) we had a flour barrel that was so big, one of us kids would use it to sit on at the supper table! Sometimes we fought over who would get to sit on it :) Inside was not only a lot of flour, but mom’s big flour bowl that she used to mix up her biscuits in. She would put a lot of flour in, shortening, etc, mix it up, and “choke off” biscuits and place them in a baking pan. There was always a lot of flour left in the bottom and up the sides of the bowl. I hae never been able to make biscuits like Momma’s!

  22. Kay Overman says

    Chrisy, I so enjoy reading your writing and the recipes. Some of them are like what my mama made. But the best part of the site is being able to read and learn of others peoples way of doing something. Wouldn’t it be a boring place if we all did everything the very same way. Ever how some ones cooks is right they are never wrong when you make it your own and please your family in the process. Thank you so very much for what you do. I cook the way my mama did but my daughter doesn’t think my stewed potatoes taste like hers. She said mama’s taste better than mine. I am happy she has that memory of her grandma.

  23. Tanya says

    I am thankful each day for my Mama…we lost my Grandmother (Daddy’s mother) in January of 2010…by March of 2010 we lost Daddy. About 2 weeks after that, Mama got diagnosed with melanoma. I nearly lost them all, but PRAISE GOD, He healed Mama and she is with us still. My Mama has always worked so hard but has managed to love us, take care of us and, yes, cook for us! Our drop biscuits use either the 1/2 cup of shortening or a stick of butter. Mimi’s (great-grandma) batter bread used shortening of course and was served with red-eye gravy.

  24. Teresa Myler says

    I make an even simpler biscuit. 2 cups of self-rising flour with 1 cup of whipping cream. Mix until wet, turn onto floured surface and knead a little bit. Pull off or cut biscuits and place on baking sheet. Place into 500 degree overn for 10 minutes and pull out great moist fluffy biscuits.

  25. Emma says

    This is so wonderful to read all of these stories about everyones mommy. I too had a great mommy and her biscuits were so great. When we were all children ( six children, I am the youngest) she would cook breakfast before everyone left for school and Dad left for work. She would make hot oatmeal, gravy or choclate syrup with hot biscuits. Sometimes my father would wake up real early and say to my mother that he would love to have some hot biscuits and her canned peaches or blackberries and she would get up and make this for him. Before I was married and the only one at home shse would do this and wake me to ask if I wanted to eat with them. Other members of my family says that I cook like my mother and this is the best compliment that they could give me.

  26. Bonnie Dunston says

    I just lost my Mama and I miss her so much. She was a wonderful cook and never used a recipe or a measuring cup. She made the best candied sweet potatoes, they were so good on one of her biscuits as a after school snack. I watched her make then countless times but have never been able to duplicate. She also had a wicked sense of humor. Her fried apple pies were wonderful and people use to beg her for them. She made a special one for her boss , it was the most picture perfect fried pie you ever saw. She had substituted her yummy dried apple filling with cotton balls. She and her friend hide and watch him take his first bite. 40 years later she would still grin when she told the story. (She did give him another one with apples). I miss her.

  27. Jill Morelock says

    I just love this recipe!! Not only is the hoe cake delicious as is, it is also great to use for other variations! I make garlic cheese bread using the same recipe only adding grated cheese and garlic. My daughters love it! I can’t wait to try making a sweet bread with it. Thanks Christy for all your wonderful recipes! I just love your cookbook!

  28. Angela S. says

    Best biscuits I have ever made. I am a terrible cook, I hate doing it and I guess it shows in my final product. Sometimes I get hungry for my mamaw’s cooking and the only way I can have homemade stuff is to do it myself. I don’t have the first clue, I didn’t like cooking back then about as much as I dislike it today and I never learned anything from my mamaw because of it. I found this recipe by chance and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to making something almost like hers. Thank you for this recipe, finally something I can cook from scratch that my family will actually eat without holding them at gunpoint!

  29. Deb J. says

    My dad is 93, has dementia, but remembers his grandmother making him catheads for breakfast before he went to school. I’ll make him some tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe, Christy!

  30. MARSHA G says

    I love the fact you bring back so many beautiful memories for so many of us. Most folks now days look at you all crazy eyed when you mention CAT HEAD biscuits (those folks are the crazy ones cause they sure don’t know what they’re missing) my momma always made good ol’ cat head biscuits to go with most meals unless cornbread was the bread. Thanks Christy for always bringing back the memories of so many peoples good ol’ country childhood which no matter how poor you thought you were, you were actually the wealthy folks around due to the endless love of family.

  31. Angela says

    Mama always served biscuits with honey, but I never did get to the point where I liked it. I just didn’t see the big whoop. Then one day at a flea market, I discovered a booth selling blueberry honey (not artificailly flavored) where the bees had pollinated on blueberry bushes. Who knew that I loved honey! – just not clover honey. It’s like liquid gold to me now and I put it on my biscuits just like Mama did.

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  1. [...] Drop Biscuits – And How Your Mama Did It Just Right | Southern PlateAug 15, 2009 … A variation on my Mama’s hoe cake, she often mixed up the same batter and made drop biscuits instead. When I first served hoe cake to my in … [...]

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