Martha White's Southern Sampler

Categories: Cookbooks
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This cookbook was published in 1989, on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the iconic Martha White Company (now Martha White Foods). The 200-plus page book encompasses, as the title suggests and intro informs, "a little bit of everything" concerning Southern baking and cooking -- pies, cobblers, cookies, cakes, yeast breads, corn breads, biscuits, a whole chapter devoted to grits recipes, and main courses. The last includes a nifty sausage cheese grits casserole. The book went for $19.95 when it first came out; not sure what it is now.

I've used Martha White's Southern Sampler (Rutledge Hill Press) almost exclusively for breakfast baking -- mostly biscuit recipes, with an occasional cinnamon roll. Scattered through the book are some old photos and stories relating to Martha White and the South. One such tale concerns Earl Scruggs, who with Lester Flatt and the Foggy Mountain Boys promoted the baking company from 1953 to 1969. During this same time they also recorded The Ballad of Jed Clampett, theme of The Beverly Hillbillies television show. If you're familiar with any of these names, it's probably time for a glass of milk -- maybe with some Earl Scruggs' Famous Buttermilk Biscuits, the recipe for which follows...

Biscuits are not tough to make. Main overall hints are not to over mix when cutting fat into the dough, and only "knead" until ingredients are barely mixed. The recipe calls for Martha White Self-Rising Flour, but we use the books substitution suggestion of All Purpose Flour with added baking powder and salt.

Also: Recipe calls for 2 1/2-inch cutter, but you can use the top end of a drinking glass that is similar in size -- dip the rim in flour first, and, of course, be careful not to press down so hard as to shatter the glass.

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Earl Scrugg's Famous Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
7/8 cup buttermilk (1 cup less 2 tablespoons)
Melted butter or margarine

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  • Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork only until dough leaves sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board; knead gently just until smooth.
  • Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with floured 2 1/2-inch cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Brush hot biscuits with melted butter or margarine. Makes 10 to 12 biscuits.

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