Friday, February 1, 2013

Baking for Survival - Denver Biscuits

Contrary to the deceptive title of this post, these biscuits aren't survival food in the classic sense, but in more of a "help mother make it through the week" sense.  I don't know about you, but between homesteading, homeschooling, living off-grid and everything else that takes up precious minutes, I don't always have time to knead up a batch of fresh biscuits or rolls to accompany every meal - and really, what is dinner (or breakfast for that matter) without warm, soft homemade bread?  And so, to retain at least a little bit of sanity, I make up a big ol' batch of Denver Biscuits and always have fresh, warm bread at the drop of a hat.
Sealed and ready to put in the fridge

Pinched off a piece of dough to make into a roll

Ready to rise

Fresh from the oven

The perfect accompaniment to a hearty dinner

Denver Biscuits are much more reminiscent of dinner rolls than they are true baking powder biscuits.  The dough improves with age, so making a batch of biscuits at the beginning of the week and still having fresh rolls by the end of the week is easily achieved.  I store my biscuit dough in a large ziploc bag in the fridge and just pinch off bits of dough to form enough rolls for the evening meal.  Sometimes, for a quick, special weekday breakfast or afternoon tea I will roll out a chunk of dough and prepare it as Cinnamon rolls.  It takes very little work and only enough time to allow the dough to rise a bit and bake.

This recipe works well with either all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour and the butter can be replaced with lard or shortening.  I love the fact that these biscuits use up left-over mashed potatoes so that nothing goes to waste.

Denver Biscuits
4 C milk
1 C mashed potatoes (or 1 large potato, peeled, cooked and mashed)
1/2 C water (or left-over potato water)
1 C butter
1 C sugar
3 T salt
3 T yeast
3 T baking powder
10 - 12 C flour

In a medium saucepan, heat milk, water, butter, sugar and salt.  Add mashed potatoes.  Cool to 110°.  Pour into a mixing bowl.  Add yeast, baking powder and 4 cups of flour to make a batter.  Cover with a dry towel.  In warm place, allow to rise until double in bulk.  Stir in enough additional flour (up to 8 cups) to yield a good, soft bread dough that does not stick to the hands.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Use dough immediately, or cover well and refrigerate for later use.

To make the biscuits, pinch off a piece of dough the size of an egg, form it into an oval ball and dip it in melted butter.  Fit biscuits snugly against each other in a baking pan.  The biscuits should be crowded a little, as they need each other for support as they rise.  Let rise uncovered until very light (mine don't usually rise a lot, but they do once they are in the oven).  Bake in a preheated 400° oven until the rolls are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.


Master Calvin helping with Cinnamon Rolls

In the pan

Ready at a moments notice

Tea is served!

Fresh bread at a moments notice -  these biscuits are every mothers dream!


  1. ooh,ooh, I LOVE that recipe. That will be on the top of my bread making recipes. I love something easy and ready to use. We make biscuits several times every week, this would be perfect for that. Not to mention the versatility and being able to use it for cinnamon rolls too. My family will love this. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes.

  2. Enola,


    Well for me and my pet Jackolope its tv dinners for breakfast again with more foldgers instant coffee.
    I have an oven and I tested it seven years ago to see if it worked when I bought the house. I use the burner things on top of the stove oven every day to heat water for instant coffee, ramen, soup sometimes. I have a whole mess of stored food, grain etc. I have cases, and cases and more cases of food stored around the house. I will have to learn on the fly how to cook some things if the walmart shuts down and I cant get my tv dinners and Jackolope chow.
    Maybe I can pay some women that knows how to cook in stored food, ammo, silver or gold. I got some coins too.
    Being a bachelor survivalist ain't easy. Im also willing to trade some rifles and ammo for land for myself and the jackolope right now. "Jack" needs a place roam and must have rattlesnakes for food (for me and the jack)

  3. Oooooh I crave cinnamon rolls!!! I'l have two please, one for each hip -- a girl has got o stay balanced.

  4. Enola,


    I was looking at those cinnomon rolls again...The jackolope and I are envious. We had 4:00 pm instant coffee time with a bag of Peanut M&M's, now I will the jack out for a walk in park. I gotta keep a chain around him becouse Jackolopes are very territorial and will attack anything including wolves, polar bears, bangle tigers, great white sharks. Wolverines got nothing on a Texas Jackolope, remember the video of that young jack with no horns going banana's on a full grown rattlesnake!

    I like to re-edit that scene in "Red Dawn" where that kid is holding up and AK-47 and yells' Wolverines!

    That kid should yell' Jackolopes!!!!

  5. They look yummy. Thanks for the recipe.

    That said, I'm sorry I must post Off Topic. (OT) My problem is that I am in the Orange level of readiness up here in N-N Idaho. Some things are immediate. Mostly, shortages...

    5.56 P-Mags are currently available, in a group of 3 per customer @ $15 ea. ,as I write this. Those of you who may need to fill the slot, should probably take advantage of this. Do not dally as these will go fast.

    Me, I've got enough, I hope. lol

    Back to the post and away from Prep-Sec, I'm going to make these rolls in the morning, with a dash of Orange and Lemon Extract. Yummm

  6. Enlola,

    Please disregard and trash my post on Pmags. They are now sold out.

    They had them 2 minutes ago, now gone.




    1. Enola,


      Hey SnW

      If Enola does not mind I am posting an anonymous e-mail address that I use, please e-mail me SnW.

  7. Those both look very good. Enola is it possible to halve that recipe list you have? With only 2 of us I'd be hesitant to make up that big a batch.

    1. I made a half-batch this weekend. Baked about half the dough as rolls, and fed 3 adults and 2 little kids, with some left over for next day. You might want to cut the recipe in fourths.

  8. Estimating about how many rolls or cinnamon rolls will this hunk of dough make? I will make some tomorrow for rolls at dinners this week and cinnamon rolls sat/sun...

    1. Enola,

      Hey Prepared Teacher


      Can the "Jackalope and I come over for dinner tomorrow???

      You can feed us outside if you want like dogs on the porch. Rogue Untamed Bachelors like us are use to it.

    2. I generally get about 30 dinner rolls and 12 cinnamon rolls, however the number really depends on how big you make your rolls. I would love a report after you have tried them!


  9. A new recipe I have to try my kids will totally love these. I might be the favorite mom if I make the rolls and cinnamon rolls :)

  10. I'm new to bread making and tried to make this last night but my batter never did rise. Not sure what I did wrong. I'm not giving up though. I'm going to try again.

  11. About how long do you let the rolls rise before putting them in the oven? I realize it depends on ambient temp, but in a 65-70 deg house, would you say 1/2 hour or more?

  12. Never mind my prior comment, I just made them and they are delicious! There's a very popular brand of heat n' serve rolls down here in the South called "Sister Schubert's". Your recipe recreates the soft, melting texture and yeastiness, but with the fresh, wholesomeness that no packaged goods can ever match.

    Since we were low on milk I used powdered milk, and you'd never notice.
    Thanks so much for sharing this! Next time I will use more whole-wheat to see how it translates.

  13. what is your recipe for the cinnamon filling?

  14. Enola,
    These are delicious and so buttery. This recipe is HUGE.
    I am going to try to freeze half.
    The dough didn't fit in my mixer so I had to eye it as I split it up. I was worried for a minute but when I put all the dough together to knead it ( some was really sticky and some dry), it came together perfectly.
    Eventually, my boys will be teenagers and will put these away faster!
    I can't wait to try the cinnamon rolls!

  15. Another delicious looking recipe. Thanks!