Prep 20 mins
Cook 14 mins
Good with just about anything, any meal. Butter & jelly, gravy, cheese, ham, you name it. Please see my notes below in the directions section re: shortening. These can be frozen and cooked later - see instructions below. *Please note - these are Southern biscuits - not English biscuits. They are not a dry, sweet, cookie-type of baked good, but instead are a hot bread which you eat with meals.
- 2 cups white lily flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1⁄4 cup chilled shortening
- 3⁄4-1 cup buttermilk
- NOTES: White Lily flour is de rigueur for biscuit making in the South - it is made from soft red winter wheat, which is a variety of wheat that has a low protein content and low gluten content, which makes for a flaky, more tender crumb. If you can't get White Lily flour you can use a mix of Swan's Down Cake Flour and all purpose flour - 1 cup of each. Swan's Down Cake Flour is also made with soft winter wheat. If you can't find either of these, you can use regular all-purpose flour, but the biscuits won't be as light because of the higher protein and gluten content of all-purpose flour.
- If you really want to make these right, you should use lard instead of Crisco. Lard has a different chemical reaction with the flour than Crisco, and gives you a more flaky biscuit. Lard freaks a lot of people out, but it actually has less saturated fat than butter, and less cholesterol. The old Crisco was full of trans fats; the new Crisco is trans-fat free. PLEASE NOTE: when I say "lard", I mean rendered leaf lard, NOT the bricks of lard you find on grocery store shelves, which are hydrogenated and contain BHA and BHT. You need to find a reputable butcher, and ask him for some rendered leaf lard. If you cannot find any rendered leaf lard, you can use Crisco or butter, but be aware that butter has much more water content than lard or Crisco and will result in a less flaky biscuit. When you cut the lard and the butter into the flour, you want them to be very cold. If you like, you can put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes before cutting them into the dough, so they can really firm up.
- Also, the key to light biscuits is minimal handling of the dough. After you cut the shortening into the flour, gently mix in the buttermilk, just until the liquid is incorporated and the dough comes together. Do not over mix. Other enemies of light biscuits include kneading dough and rolling dough - do not roll the dough out; place the dough on a floured surface, and gently pat it out until it is 1/2" thick, then cut the biscuits out. I like to use square biscuit cutters, they minimize scraps, which then have to be gathered together and re-cut - when you have to do this, the resulting biscuits will be heavier and won't rise as high.
- Lastly, make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh (less than 6 months old). This applies to all baking. Old baking powder and baking soda will not leaven properly, and the biscuits will not rise.
- If you don't know how long you've had your baking powder or baking soda, throw them out and buy new supplies.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar & salt. Cut in the butter and lard with a pastry blade until all the bits of shortening are pea - sized and well combined with the flour. You can also use a food processor, fitted with the pastry blade, to do this. If you have used a food processor to cut the shortening into the flour, pour the mixture into a bowl before adding the buttermilk.
- Gently stir in the buttermilk - start with just 3/4 of a cup. Using a fork, stir the buttermilk into the flour mixture, just till the dough holds together and is still sticky. If there is still a lot of flour which has not been incorporated into the dough, add some of the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk.
- Biscuit dough should be fairly wet and sticky - chilling the dough for 15 minutes before patting it out will help it to become more easy to handle. Resist the urge to add more flour! This will make the biscuits heavy and tough.
- On a floured surface, pat out the dough and fold it over on itself. Pat it out again and fold it over on itself again. Pat out one more time to 1/2" thick and cut with a 2" biscuit cutter.
- Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake @ 425 on the top rack for 14 minutes.
- FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS:.
- Once the biscuits are cut, place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer.
- Once the biscuits are frozen, remove from the baking sheet, place in a ziplock bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- TO BAKE FROZEN BISCUITS:.
- Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake at 475 degrees for 8 minutes - at 8 minutes they'll look half-baked, that's OK. Do not open the oven door.
- Turn the oven off and leave the biscuits in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until they're golden brown.