A traditional Southern biscuit that dates back to the 1800s. Whereas most biscuits are soft and light, beaten biscuits are hard and crisp. The classic texture is obtained by beating the dough for 30 to 45 minutes until it becomes blistered, elastic and smooth. The beating may be done with a mallet, rolling pin, the flat side of a cleaver . . . any heavy object that will pound the dough into submission. One can also use an old-fashioned beaten-biscuit machine, a contraption with wooden or metal rollers reminiscent of an old-time clothes wringer. The dough is passed through the rollers, which are operated by a hand crank. This method takes no less time but saves on the wear and tear of the baker. After the dough is beaten, it is rolled out, cut into small circles and pricked with the tines of a fork before being baked.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.