When it comes to versatile comfort foods, it's hard to beat a warm, homemade biscuit. Perhaps that's why Pat Wilbanks, a grandmother from LaFayette, Georgia, who recently shared her family's simple recipe on Facebook, has become somewhat of an internet sensation.
On June 22, Wilbanks posted a three-part cooking tutorial to her own Facebook account. The video was actually shot as a favor for the granddaughter of Wilbanks' best friend who was curious about how to make biscuits.
"My friend is down in the nursing home and when she was home living at her apartment, I would go up and fix biscuits for her and her husband," Wilbanks told TODAY Food. "My daughter-in-law is a nurse and for National Nurses Day, I'd fix hundreds of biscuits for the nurses. Last time I talked to my friend, she asked me to mail the recipe to her granddaughter."
There was only one problem: "I've never used a recipe," Willbanks admitted. Since she's been making the same biscuits for decades, Willbanks usually just eyeballs the ingredients. So she called in a favor from her grandson, Chris, who helped measure all of the ingredients Wilbanks poured into a bowl and then made a written record of the recipe.
Chris also helped his grandmother film the baking tutorial.
In the four-minute video, Wilbanks is seen preparing a batch of fluffy, buttery biscuits with concise directions. And in just a few weeks, the videos have racked up tens of thousands of views and hundreds of comments.
"Miss Pat you are a treasure!!" one person commented.
Another added: "Thank you for sharing the recipe with all of us! I felt as if I was right at home with you while you made them. I think you are a wonderful teacher and I will be making your biscuits tonight!"
Willbanks said she didn't know what going "viral" meant, but she's excited to be able to share her family recipe with others.
"Chris called me the next day and said, 'Nana your biscuit recipe has gone viral.' And I said, 'What is that?' I'm honored and very thankful," Wilbanks told TODAY.
So far, Wilbanks said she's received responses from people as far away as California and even the United Kingdom.
Wilbanks said she learned this particular biscuit-making method, along with many other dishes, from her husband's grandmother, a woman named Rose Hawkins, who was born in 1886. Wilbanks told TODAY she was 12-years-old when first she started baking biscuits. As one of seven children, Wilbanks often had to help feed her siblings since her mother passed away when was just 11. Wilbanks said her childhood home in Tennessee was a house with no running water and the family did their cooking on a wood stove. Back in the day, the classic biscuit recipe consisted of lard, flour and home-churned buttermilk from the family's cow.
Today, the recipe has been adapted to everyday items one can find in the store (like using Crisco instead of lard), and in the video, Wilbanks explains that she prefers using White Lily self-rising flour, but told viewers to just look for a self-rising flour that says "light" on the label. She also prefers a specific type of buttermilk.
"The fat-free buttermilk doesn't work all that good," she says.
Fans of Wilbanks' biscuits have commented that they are eager to try her recipe and even asked for more cooking demos. Luckily for them, Wilbanks has already posted another video teasing some of the dinner recipes she's planning to demonstrate in the future.
Even if Facebook viewers don't actually plan on making any of Wilbanks' recipes, it's clear that many people are just comforted by watching her cook.
"You made them just like my Momma did (and) I had forgotten how," one person said. "Thank you for refreshing my memory (and) I will be watching for more videos from you for the things I forgot how to make."
Mama's Biscuits by Pat Wilbanks
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, plus 1/3 cup for dusting
- 1/3 cup Crisco
- 1 cup buttermilk (a little less is OK, according to Wilbanks)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (don't use margarine)
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Combine flour, Crisco and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined, mashing the shortening into the flour and buttermilk.
- Flour a baking pan, then dump the dough into the pan and knead together. Pat it out to about 3/4-inch thick.
- With a biscuit cutter, make 8 uniform biscuit rounds and add them to a separate baking sheet. Spoon melted butter over the top of each biscuit.
- Bake biscuits for about 13 minutes. If you prefer a more golden-brown top, broil the biscuits for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Remove biscuits from the oven and enjoy while still hot ... with more butter, of course!