Fried biscuits with cinnamon sugar are a fun, old fashioned treat. They’re reminiscent of other fried doughs like churros and zeppole. Try them with your morning cup of coffee, tea or even a tall glass of milk.
My first mother-in-law grew up on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay in the 1940s. Her father was a waterman and her mother kept a large garden. Between the two of them they kept food on the table and a roof over their heads, but there wasn’t a lot left over. As Dorene put it, “we were poor but I didn’t know it.”
Not long before Dorene was born, the Ballard biscuit company perfected a canned biscuit that quickly became a popular staple in the galleys of the workboats. They were used instead of bread to make sandwiches or fried (in lard, Crisco, or maybe bacon fat) and then dipped in honey or sugar for a sweet treat.
I remember watching Dorene make a batch for a Christmas treat one year. After popping open the can, she pinched small pieces off and shallow fried them. They puffed up and quickly turned golden brown and as they finished cooking she dropped them into a paper bag and shook the puffs with a little cinnamon and sugar.
They were eaten almost as fast as she could put them on the table.
It’s a rare thing for us to eat canned biscuits, although it does happen on occasion. To make this recipe I used a small can of five biscuits and cut each one into eight pieces. After frying them and rolling them in cinnamon sugar, I placed them in a cone of parchment paper the way they serve churros in Spain.
They were eaten as soon as I took the photos.
Tomorrow is National Donut Day and there will be many donut recipes available all over the web, I expect. This one’s a little bit different and brings back pleasant memories of my children’s grandparents. It makes them taste that much sweeter.
- 1 small can of five biscuits
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- oil for frying (I used sunflower oil)
- Cut each biscuit into eight pieces. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.
- Prepare a baking tray with paper towels.
- Cover the bottom of a heavy skillet or saucepan with about a half inch of oil. Heat over medium high heat until shimmering.
- Work in batches and carefully drop between 8 to 10 pieces into the hot oil.
- They will puff and may float a little bit. Turn them over with a fork.
- When both sides are nice and golden, transfer to the paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
- Repeat until all the biscuit pieces are cooked.
- To make the cones, cut a piece of parchment paper into 5 inch squares (or something close, you don't have to be exact). Form into a cone and fold the tip up to close the bottom. Secure it in place with a little tape if you like.
For those interested, here’s a TEDx talk video from Tim Hickey. He’s a writer and the founder and principal of Tangier Island Oyster Co., an aquaculture partnership with the watermen of Tangier Island. His intent is to help the people of Tangier preserve their way of life.