I have been making biscuits since I was about ten years old. My mom taught me to make them the way she did which wasn’t that much fun or easy. She put flour in a large bowl, took her fist and made a well in the middle by pressing the flour down. After that, she would put in the buttermilk and shortening. I think it was lard back in those days and take her hand and squeeze the milk and lard together as she pulled in a bit of flour from the edges until she had the dough form a ball. That wasn’t fun because the milk would be too cold and when I was finished, my fingers were freezing. Then I had to pinch off a bit of the dough and roll it between floured hands and put them in a pan close together.
Times changed and so did the way I made biscuits. In time, I figured out that I could measure the flour into the bowl, add the shortening and then buttermilk. It has to be the right kind of ingredients. In the south, we use soft winter flour. My personal choice is White Lily and I always use Crisco. I never buy a knock off brand or store brand of solid shortening. Crisco is all I ever use.
One has to have a dough cutter to cut the shortening into the flour. Cut the shortening until it forms little pea size bits. Then add the buttermilk and stir until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. Don’t overwork it. Be very careful to be gentle with the dough for soft biscuits. A stainless steel bowl or a glass bowl is what I use. Never use aluminum. It isn’t good because the biscuits can take on a bad taste from being mixed in aluminum. Most folks know not to cook in aluminum now days anyway.
When the dough is ready, I have a board or a clean counter top ready with flour that I have sprinkled on it. I turn the dough out and (very gently) pad it down to about 3/4″ to 1″ flat. I then take a sharp biscuit cutter to cut them quickly. Never twist the cutter just press down until the biscuit is cut though. One can make a biscuit cutter out of a vegetable can if they do not have one. Be sure to flip the biscuit when you put it in the pan. When the cutter presses down on the dough, it needs to be flipped to get the biscuits to rise correctly. Many people do not know this trick but I learned as I went.
I put the biscuits in a dark pan that has been lightly greased. They cook at 450 degrees until the tops are nice and golden brown. Using a dark pan will ensure that the bottoms will be brown too. What I want in a biscuit is for it to be golden brown with a crust on the outside and soft on the inside. There isn’t a man in the south who would not love having a great home made biscuit for breakfast. Heck, he might eat a half dozen. So, if you are cooking for a man, make sure to cook plenty. Biscuits can be kept in a covered bowl for a few days on the counter. Did you notice the little biscuit on the plate? That is what we call a baby biscuit. If there is any dough left, we use it even if it isn’t large as the rest. Thus, at my home, they are called baby biscuits. The children would fight over who got that one. Too sweet just thinking about it.
What I like to do with old biscuits is to split them open, but butter or margarine on both sides and sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Then I pop them under the broiler until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. I have had friends visit from other parts of the country and when I made cinnamon biscuits from old ones, they simply loved them.
Don’t say you can’t make a good biscuit. There were many things in life that you once couldn’t do but practice will prefect them. I worked on making them forever and now, it is second nature to make them. It will be for you too if you keep at it.
Look on the side of any bag of flour for the recipe. I don’t need to tell you because I use the same amount of ingredients. The thing with me now is that I don’t have to measure. I have cooked them so long that I can just look at the amount going in and know if it is right.
Here is what the ingredients look like that I use. You may not can find them in your part of the country but I will try to find a place so you can order them.
One last thing and that is buttermilk. Don’t try making biscuits with really drinking milk. The buttermilk makes them worth eating. In fact, one of my favorite moments is when the biscuits come out of the oven and I hold the pan up to smell them. Ahhh, there is nothing like a buttermilk make biscuit.
Now, get busy and give it a try. Your family will love you for putting a great bread on the table. They aren’t hard to make and they sure beat making bread that has to be kneed. Never, never knead them. Good luck and have fun. Baking is a joy to me and I hope it will be for you too.