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Farmer’s Table: Rosemary Garlic Biscuits


By Susan Maslowski

I make biscuits a few times a year. Most of the time I use commercial biscuit mixes, since a breakfast of biscuits and gravy is often a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Last week, I took the time to make proper biscuits using fresh garlic and herbs from the garden. They were a perfect complement to the ham medallions and farm-fresh eggs I had on hand.

The word “biscuit” derives from “panis biscotus,” a Latin term for “twice-cooked bread.” Biscuits were baked and then dried in a cooler oven. Italian biscotti, which means “twice-cooked” in Italian, most closely resembles the Latin term and cooking technique.

The first biscuits were hard, dry, flat cakes that were a staple for soldiers and sailors, since they kept well. They were often referred to as “stone bread.”

According to the provisions list, there were 15,000 brown biscuits on the Mayflower when it sailed to New England.

Lighter biscuits are said to have originated in Southern plantation kitchens. Biscuits were quite popular before the Civil War, because they were inexpensive to make. Soft winter wheat grown in the South has less protein and is better suited for making biscuits and quick breads.

Although there are biscuits made with yeast, most biscuits are considered a quick bread made from flour, shortening, milk and a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda.

Good biscuits should be light and flaky. The key to a flaky biscuit is to not overwork the dough. When using a biscuit cutter, be sure to push straight down and avoid twisting, because you want distinctive layers.

Rosemary garlic biscuits are a delightful change from plain biscuits.

Rosemary Garlic Biscuits

1 cup flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons sugar

¼ cup butter, chilled

½ cup milk

1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped


2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon rosemary, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter, using a pastry blender.

Mix milk, cheese, rosemary and garlic into the dough, being careful not to overmix.

Roll dough to ¾-inch thickness on wax paper dusted with flour. Cut dough into rounds. Do not twist cutter, so that flaky layers will develop.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden on top.

Mix melted butter, garlic and rosemary together and brush on warm biscuits as soon as they are removed from the oven.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at or go to our websites at and Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.


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