A staple on any table in the South and welcome at any meal the simple buttermilk biscuit fresh from the oven soft & tender, lighter than a feather,slathered with butter or your favorite jam, is indeed a wonderful thing. It shines at breakfast smothered in sausage gravy or in a portable version, split and filled with bacon, sausage or ham. As a simple desert with a little Cane syrup or Molasses, Strawberry Short Cake, or topping a Fruit Cobbler, the simple buttermilk biscuit stands tall.
Biscuits are as easy to prepare as they are to mess up. They turn out dry or heavy they don't rise or they burn on the bottom. These little set backs can be fixed with some TLC. You must treat the biscuit dough gently, carefully measure the ingredients. Over handling once the buttermilk is added will result in a tough & heavy biscuit, to much shortening will result in a dry and crumbly biscuit that will more than likely burn on the bottom. Old Baking Powder will prevent them from rising(when you open a new can date it) if it has been opened over 6 months consider replacing it. If in doubt it can be tested: put 1/2 tsp vinegar in a cup of water while holding it over the sink, sprinkle 1/2 tsp baking powder in the cup, if it foams up it is still good.
Some folks swear by self rising flower and die hards consider it cheating I will cover both and you and make your own decision the biscuits are identical so what ever works for you is fine. Enjoy!
Prep time: 15 min Baking time: 10 - 12 min. Makes: about 1 1/2 dz
(Self Rising Flour)
2 /12 cups flour + extra for dusting
1/2 + 2 tsp shortening
2 tbl sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup Butter milk
*if using All Purpose flour
*3 tsp baking powder
*1 tsp Salt
Tools: Large mixing bowl, measuring cups & spoons, fork, rolling pin, biscuit cutter, baking sheet
Measure the flour into the mixing bowl, add the sugar, 1/2 tsp of baking soda (*if using A/P flour and the salt and baking powder) using the fork thoroughly mix these ingredients together.
Place the shortening in the bowl and blend together ( I find my fingers to be the best tool for this job) when no pieces of shortening are visible and the flour has the look and feel of damp sand it is mixed.
Form a well in the center of the bowl
Pour the Buttermilk into the center.
Using the fork pull the flour into the center in a *folding motion (* pull to the center and turn the flour under) moving around the circumference of the bowl. As soon as you see there is no more dry stuff. "STOP MIXING!!" The dough will be soft moist and sticky and maybe a little lumpy looking.
Put a good dusting of flour on your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. using well floured hands pull the dough together into a ball and *knead three times(* press down on the ball with the heal of your hand pressing into a disk, fold the edges to the center to form a ball, repeat). Use just enough flour to prevent sticking."Less is more."
After the 3 rd cycle pat(roll) the dough out into a 3/4" disk.( I have a Rolling pin but never use it if you want to use one feel free. I prefer the hands on approach.)
Fold the the disk into 1/3 rds and turn seam side down press out to 3/4" thick, do this 3 times.
Pat or roll out into a 3/4" disk and square up the sides. Using a biscuit cutter that has been coated with flour, (I don't own a biscuit cutter I use an old can about 2" in diameter) cut out your biscuits pressing straight down, do not twist the cutter. Twisting will seal the outer edges and prevent the biscuits from rising as high as they can.
Place the biscuits on the sheet pan with the edges touching it helps them to rise higher when the bake. Cover with a towel and allow to rest while the oven is preheating.