Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

It's a shame that most people now get their biscuits out of a can or from a mix. There's nothing wrong with them but there's nothing very right either. When I make biscuits, I use my grandmother's recipe. Now my grandmother had what you could politely call a "full figure" so she obviously loved her own cooking.

Born in Louisiana in the 1890's, her polities were far to the right and her tongue could be quite sharp on occasion. But her cooking - oh, her cooking was oh so sweet. I still have her cast iron skillet and attribute my success at making cornbread and spoon bread to its magical properties. She used to make buttermilk buscuits on a regular basis but now, at Chez Nancy, they are only an occasional treat. Still, when I make them, I use the best ingredients and invite my friends over for a feast. Otherwise, there is no resisting temptation and I can believe that I will eat the whole thing.

2 cups flour (use White Lily self-rising flour which you can order through Amazon. I don't think it's available locally.)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter (the best around comes from the Straus Family Creamery. Don't stint on this - or the butter you will put on the biscuits later. Your taste buds will thank you. Ditto for honey and jam.)
2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco - the stuff that that health conscious are not supposed to use. Well, forget Dr. Ornish for one day and use Crisco. There is no substitute for creating that flaky, tender dough)
1 cup buttermilk, chilled  (Again, I use  Bulgarian buttermilk but if you don't have any, you can sour regular milk and use that. But it's not the same)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.

Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life. Sometimes I sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on the second go-round to make little biscuit cookies.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
Try to wait until they have cooled slightly before eating.

1 comment:

Zoomie said...

Crisco? Really? Well, I guess I just have to try them, don't I? Grandmothers really do have all the best recipes. A lifetime of winnowing.