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Maryland Beaten Biscuits


A recipe from Priscilla Farlow Melson, 1829 to 1919, a resident of Melson on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Beaten biscuits are a Maryland tradition. Pummeling, pounding, and beating biscuit dough with an axe results in a characteristic consistency.

"To 3 1/2 pints sifted flour, mix in a teaspoonful of salt, a tablespoon sugar (about, never measured it--so test till right quantity is ascertained), and a 1/4 pound lard. Mix all well together.

"Use enough water to make a stiff dough (more danger of getting it too soft than too stiff). Work it a bit to get it to hold together well. Work the lard in with your fingers.

"Put dough on a biscuit board (placed on firm base) and beat with hatchet 1500 strokes (about 1/2 hour).

"Break up dough into pieces of proper size to pinch into form of small biscuit (about 1 1/2 inch diameter). Roll and pat in the hands. Place in pan with their pinched sides down. Mark on top in center with three 'pricks' of a three-tined fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, and serve hot."