American biscuits are very different from English biscuits. American biscuits are more of a bread, whereas the English ones are more like a cookie. In the Southern part of the United States, biscuits are very popular and everyone has a grandma or an aunt who made “the best” biscuits ever.
Making biscuits from scratch is a dying art. The advent of refrigerated ready-made biscuit dough has made it unnecessary (though to my mind, the ready-made ones don’t taste as good as homemade). Then there are all those stories of “Great Aunt Bess” who made amazing biscuits using a certain brand of flour measured in her Grandma Nell’s teacup with the pink roses on it and mixed by hand until the dough “felt” just right. It’s enough to make even just the prospect seem dauntingly intimidating.
But honestly, it’s not that hard. The secret is to handle the dough as little as possible. A food processor makes quick work of this. I’ve given instructions below for making these biscuits using a food processor but remember, you could totally make them by hand, too. Just work quickly, squeezing the dough between your fingers. And don’t worry. If worse comes to worst, you could always use them as hockey pucks!. SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
- 2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily is a favorite brand down South)
- 1/3 cup Crisco shortening
- 1/4 tsp. salt (real Southern biscuits have a faintly salty taste)
- about 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 stick butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425º.
- Grease a baking sheet with Pam (butter-flavored is good).
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, Crisco and salt together.
- Pulse in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together and there is no dry flour left. You may have to add a tablespoon or 2 of buttermilk to get all the flour completely moistened.
- Sprinkle work surface with a little flour and turn dough out onto it.
- Lightly pat into a ball; then with a rolling pin, gently roll out to half an inch thick. Don’t worry about making the top look perfectly smooth.
- Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter. You could also use a glass.
- Arrange on baking sheet making sure sides of biscuits are touching each other.
- Add scraps to empty spaces in baking sheet. Don’t gather and re-roll them because they’ll just turn out tough.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove from oven and brush tops of biscuits with melted butter, if desired.
- Serve warm from oven.