This section is from the book "The American Woman's Cook Book", by Ruth Berolzheimer. Also available from Amazon: The Domestic Arts Edition of the American Woman's Cook Book.
Muffin Method - This method is usually used for the batter type of quick bread. The dry ingredients are mixed and sifted, then the liquid and egg (if used) are added, either separately or combined. When well mixed, the melted shortening is beaten in.
Cake Method - This method is used for the richer muffins. The shortening is creamed, the sugar stirred in, then the beaten egg added. The rest of the dry ingredients are mixed and sifted and added gradually to the first mixture alternately with the liquid.
Biscuit Method - The dry ingredients are mixed and sifted and the shortening cut in with knives or worked in with the tips of the fingers, it being necessary to keep the fat hard until the dough goes into the oven. If the shortening becomes warm, or is melted, the result is not flaky and flakiness should be a characteristic of biscuits.
Popover Mixtures should be thoroughly beaten with an egg-beater for several minutes, in order to introduce as much air as possible and to break the liquid present into tiny droplets. The mixture, being very thin, will not hold air very long, so it should be poured immediately into the baking containers, which may be of tin, glass, aluminum, earthenware, iron or steel. If metal containers are used, they should be hot when the batter is poured into them, so that the baking may begin as soon as the pans are put into the oven. A hot oven is needed at first and until the batter has risen to full height, then the temperature should be reduced in order to prevent burning.
For Griddle-cakes and Waffles the griddles and irons should stand perfectly level; then if the batter is poured steadily from a pitcher or from the tip of a large spoon, it will spread itself evenly.
Soft Doughs should be handled as little as possible and kneaded only enough to make a smooth surface, free from dry flour. Much kneading develops a stretchiness in the dough which detracts from flakiness. The dough should be rolled or patted out to one-half inch or more in thickness if thick, soft biscuits are desired, or rolled out to one-quarter inch in thickness if thin, crusty biscuits are desired. The biscuits should be baked at once.