How Beaten Biscuits Are Made
Beaten biscuits are made with a mixture of flour, lard, water, salt, and sugar. With no yeast or leavening agents, the dough is beaten to break down the gluten and fill it with air bubbles so that it will rise. Varied time ranges are given for beating dough, averaging at thirty minutes. For an expert, beating can last from ten to fifteen minutes and up to an hour for a novice. The biscuits are beaten by hand with an axe handle, rolling pin, hammer, or hard mallet.
After beating, the dough is hand-rolled into smooth balls and placed in a pan. The biscuits are picked on top with a fork or a pick to release air and then baked in a very hot oven until golden brown. Some families had their own specially designed picks to mark their biscuits. The wooden picks, or “prickers,” were passed down through families with each generation making small modifications for personalization.