The secret to avoiding rock-hard biscuits, according to cookbook author Marion Cunningham, is not to overhandle the dough; a light hand makes a flaky, airy biscuit. See the recipe for Baking-Powder Biscuits ». Dana Gallagher

If I’d been Betsy Ross, I would have put baking-powder biscuits, not stars, in the upper left-hand corner of the American flag. Baking-powder biscuits are more American than any other food, including apple pie. As James Beard wrote in American Cookery, “In former times, biscuits were the bread of many people. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner brought them to the table hot, light and fresh.”

When I teach children the basics of home cooking, I always ask if any youngster has ever eaten a baking-powder biscuit, and not one hand has ever been raised—though some youngsters say that they have had the pop-open, canned sort of biscuits.

Fewer people today know how to cook than ever have in the history of our country. Homemade biscuits, along with so many other old recipes, have been lost and forgotten. That’s a real shame. A napkin-lined basket of hot biscuits, served with butter and honey, can make a good meal great and a drab meal good. More important, well-made Baking-Powder Biscuits will bring everyone in the house together at the family table.