Until I become a master gardener/farmer or live within a reasonable driving distance of a Whole Foods, it’s doubtful I’ll free my family from processed foods anytime soon. Still, I’m trying to reduce our exposure to all those extra chemical dyes and preservatives added to everything by avoiding the processed stuff as much as possible. My main focus has been to eliminate the “highly processed” products–think boxed pasta mixes with powder that somehow magically turns into sauce. I just decided they really aren’t worth the time-saving trade off they promise. For most of those mixes, it really only saves you 5-10 minutes time in the kitchen and they taste awful. I used to eat them a lot and I loved them, especially when I was a kid. Once I started doing more and more real cooking, I realized just how terrible they are.
That’s a really rambling introduction to my main point. Once I started zapping the low-hanging fruit of the “add water and stir” processed j-u-n-k, I started focusing on other ways I could make sure we are eating real food. Little by little, I’ve looked at the food products we use on a daily basis, and started figuring out what it reasonably made sense for me to make myself–trying out recipes for homemade granola, energy and protein bars, for instance. My latest challenge was a replacement for Bisquick. Really, it’s just a pre-measured, pre-mixed blend of a few ingredients, minus the preservatives. This project was pretty easy–just a matter of looking at standard recipes for biscuits and pancakes and getting the right ratio of dry ingredients.
Bonus: It’s cheaper to make your own baking mix than to buy it. I do most of my shopping at Aldi, and even with their significantly lower prices, it’s about $0.40 per cup of their baking mix versus about $0.12 a cup making my own (with their prices on flour, sugar, etc.). If you’re buying brand name, you’ll probably save even more.
Homemade Baking Mix
- 6 cups flour
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter or shortening
Sift together all dry ingredients, then cut in butter/shortening with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
That’s it. You’re done. Well, except for the storage part. Store your baking mix in airtight container, and since you’re not using all those nasty chemical preservatives, you’ll need to keep it in the refrigerator. You can use your baking mix as a one to one replacement in any recipe that calls for Bisquick, or as listed below for basic biscuits or pancakes. If you’re a frequent baker, you may want to make a double batch, but it’s easier to cut in the shortening one batch at a time.
For every one cup of baking mix, use 1/3 cup water. Stir together until well-blended and drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about four biscuits for each cup of mix + 1/3 cup milk.
For every one cup of baking mix, use 1 cup water and one large egg. Stir until well-blended. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto hot, lightly greased griddle (medium-high heat) and cook until bubbles form throughout batter and edges appear dry. Flip and cook until golden. That’s the basic recipe. To make them extra delicious, mix in one teaspoon vanilla and a 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Or fancy ’em up with your favorite fruit mix-ins.