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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Make Biscuits with a Five-Year-Old

I wrote this awhile ago, and just found it tucked away:

How to Make Biscuits with a Five-Year-Old

The recipe card for biscuits has four cuts in it. It’s bendy when I pick it up but it is precious, bearing the marks of a two-year-old’s scissors. Now my daughter is five, and we are going to make biscuits.

I steady her on the chair pulled up to the counter. The sifter is on the plate, ready to go. “First, we need two cups of flour,” I say to her.

Emily purses her lips in concentration as she pulls out the green measuring cup from the canister. The bit of flour on the bottom flies onto my shirt and the floor, but she doesn’t notice, so intent is she.

“Two cups,” I repeat.

She nods and digs the cup deep, deep into the flour. More flour flies, and I catch her hand gently. “Be careful, sweetie.”

Together we shake the extra flour off the top of the cup and dump it into the sifter. I brush together the flour on the counter.

“One more,” I say, and this time I keep my hand over Emily’s hand. It reminds me of a story I once heard about a child’s excitement when her artist father put his hand over hers to help her to sketch. Her father guiding … but she was the one sketching.

“Good job,” I say, and Emily smiles. “Now we need two teaspoons of baking powder.” I help her with the measuring spoons, and together we scoop out the white powder, take a knife to smooth off the top. The salt I pour into her hand, a half-teaspoon in a small mound. She dumps it over the sifter, stretching her hand like a small sea-plant extending.

“Are you ready to sift?”

This is Emily’s favorite part. “It’s snowing,” she says. The wire rubbing flour through the mesh makes a soft grating sound. We shake off the bit of flour left on the plate into the mixing bowl.

“My turn,” I say. I add a quarter cup of oil and a scant cup of milk, then mix the liquid into the flour until it’s smooth—I’ve learned the hard way that I need to do this first mix to avoid a real mess. A little more flour. Emily wants to mix and I hand her the fork, but she gives it back after a moment. The dough is too thick for her to turn.

“Time to knead it,” I say, and let her sprinkle a little flour onto the counter. We dump the dough out and I make one turn, two, until the dough is soft and elastic. Emily digs her fingers in; they are clumped and white, and she laughs.

When the dough is ready, I hand Emily the rolling pin. She leans too far over, and the dough is impossibly thin at one end, clumpy and bumpy at the other. I fold it and knead it over, and we roll the dough together, making it into a smooth sheet.

Now cutting the biscuits, her second favorite part. “Make them close together,” I say. “We don’t want to knead the dough more than we have to, or the biscuits will be tough.” But it’s all right, really, when we eat the biscuits later for dinner and they are tough. To Emily smiling proudly at her daddy, there is nothing better in the world to eat.


Philangelus said...


Here's how I make biscuits with a five year old:
1) Get the can out of the fridge.
2) Show child how to peel the paper.
3) Tell child to whack the can against the side of the table. Child laughs when can pops open.
4) show child how to position the biscuits on the pan to be baked

Kind of different. :-D

Amy Deardon said...

LOL with the can pop!

I wish I'd written more of these snippets -- I have a few, and they're better than photographs. I used to get mad when grown-ups said I was "so big" but now I can't believe how quickly time flies with the kids.