Biscuits that are lightly crispy on the outside but moist and soft on the inside? Biscuits that taste just as good plain as they do slathered with jam or smothered in sausage gravy? Biscuits that flake apart into such tasty buttery bites that you can't resist popping them into your mouth?Yes, please!
I'd like to say that the secret to perfect biscuits is lard.But I think lard is only part of the story.
Only two tablespoons of lard are used in this recipe. (Can I claim this biscuit recipe as a homegrown food when it only uses 2 tablespoons of a homegrown ingredient?)
Other parts of this story include using all purpose flour instead of cake flour. Also, just like cornbread, you have to (have to, have to, have to) bake them in an iron skillet. Okay, really you don't "have to" use an iron skillet. But if you happen to have a ten inch skillet it's the perfect size for making these.
For me, my best biscuits happen when I work quite quickly and knead them just right. I'll describe how I do it in the recipe below.I just love buttermilk biscuits.
And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only member the Buttermilk Biscuit Lovers Club.BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional... but please give it a try)
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon cold lard
1 more tablespoon of lard
1 cup cold buttermilk
a little more flour, for folding dough
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Stir together with a whisk.
Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut butter and 1 tablespoon of lard into the dry ingredients so that the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, be careful not to break up the butter and lard too much, leave plenty of pea sized pieces. (Bacon grease may be substituted for lard depending on how you are going to serve your biscuits... it does add a slightly smoky taste.)
At this point check the oven temperature. If it hasn't reached 450 degrees yet place your bowl in the freezer until the oven is ready.
When the oven temperature reaches 450 degrees put the other 1 tablespoon of lard in a 10 inch iron skillet and place skillet in oven for a couple of minutes to melt the lard.
Remove skillet from oven. Turn skillet this way and that to spread the melted lard around the bottom of the skillet. Then pour the melted lard into a little bowl and set aside.
Add the buttermilk to the bowl of flour and gently stir until just combined. Without handling too much, dump dough onto floured surface, press down on it gently, and then knead it by folding it over on itself about 4-5 times.
After the last fold gently press dough out with your fingertips to a thickness of 1/2 inch.
Cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter and press straight down into the soft dough to cut the biscuits. I use a 2 1/2 inch cutter and I get 6 biscuits out of the dough and some leftover cut edges.
Place biscuits in a circle inside the skillet. Gently gather leftover cut edges of dough together and place them in the skillet too, as if they are another biscuit. (I always put this biscuit in the middle, just because.)
Brush tops of biscuits with the melted lard from the little bowl. Place skillet in oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until biscuits are nicely golden brown on top.
Now sign your "Buttermilk Biscuit Lovers Club" card and enjoy those biscuits!