Buttermilk Biscuits

June 12, 2007

Set a plate of hot Buttermilk Biscuits on the dinner table and people will think you’re a genius. Just don’t admit they’re easy as pie. Most recipes call for vegetable shortening. The old ones even call for lard. I much prefer butter. Soft Southern wheat, like White Lily, makes them light and fluffy, but bread flour works, also. The only caution is to handle the dough as little as possible. Overworking makes for tough biscuits. If you’re really in a hurry, use self-rising flour and omit the baking powder, soda, and salt. You’ll still need butter on the table, and if any biscuits are left over—which isn’t likely—you can have ham biscuits for breakfast. SAM

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cut the butter in half lengthwise, flip it one turn, and halve again. Chop into 1/4-inch cubes and sprinkle over the flour mixture. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles very coarse meal. Make a well in the center and pour in 2/3 cup buttermilk. Stir quickly but gently with a pastry fork, adding additional buttermilk if necessary, until the dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or small juice glass, dipping it occasionally into flour. Gently press together the scraps, then roll and cut them also. Roll the last scraps into a ball and flatten to make the cook’s biscuit. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes about 2 dozen biscuits.