The key to these biscuits is the use of lard. I use leaf lard rendered from the kidney fat of pasture raised Berkshire pigs. The lard is unhydrogenated and has no additives and features a clean, almost sweet, taste. Frying with this lard and making pastries with it adds a delicate, pleasant flavor that the supermarket lard (in my area the only brands available are Armour and Farmer John which are both partially hydrogenated and taste very "porky") just cannot match. If high quality lard isn't available in your area, I recommend substituting the lard in this recipe with butter. The biscuits will be a little chewier, but the butter flavor will be more pronounced (but will lack the subtle flavors that lard contributes). I'm not a fan of using vegetable shortening even though the texture will be better than using all-butter, because it contributes no flavor.
The ingredients are simple: 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour, 1 cup (235 mL) buttermilk, 2 ounces (55 g) leaf lard, 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) table salt, 4 teaspoons (18 g) baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon (2.3 g) baking soda.
If you don't have any buttermilk, you can just substitute 1 cup (235 mL) milk for it. Or 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice with enough milk to make one cup (235 mL) which has been allowed to sit for ten minutes. 1/2 cup (120 mL) plain yogurt and 1/2 cup milk also works well as does 1/2 cup yogurt. When I don't have buttermilk, I just use milk but if any of these other ingredients are available, they're just as good (some prefer yogurt over buttermilk - but if I did that, I'd have to change the name of the recipe).
In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until well combined.
Add the butter and lard to the flour and cut it in until only pea-sized or smaller clumps are visible.
I accomplish this by tossing the flour around the fats until they are fully coated. Then I start to cut and press them using a spoon or knife. While cutting, I stir to keep the pieces coated with flour.
Here's what it looks like when the fats have been cut to the proper size.
Pour the milk into the flour mixture.
Stir with a spoon just until all the flour is wet and it starts to clump together.
Prepare a surface for rolling out the dough. I prefer a silicone baking mat that has been dusted with flour. This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Roll the dough from the mixing bowl onto the floured surface.
Dust your hands with flour and sprinkle flour on the exposed surface of the dough (which will be quite tacky at this point). Covering the hands with flour and dusting the dough will make it easier to work with. Don't be afraid to continue adding flour to the surface of the dough if it gets tacky to the touch.
Without overworking the dough, form/roll it into a ball. Roll it over and flour the bottom if it is tacky.
Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large rectangular shape. Lightly dust the surface with flour.
Fold the dough in thirds over itself and lightly dust. (This is like folding a letter twice to fit into a letter sized envelope; some people refer to this as a business envelope fold.)
Fold the dough in thirds in the other direction (perpendicular to the direction of the previous folds).
Press and shape the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch (25 mm) think.
Using biscuit cutters, cut rounds out of the dough. Make sure each round has a circumference that is cut dough (that is, we want to make sure the cutter actually presses through the dough on all sides; an uncut edge won't rise as well as a cut edge, so we want to make sure the whole circlue is cut). Pressing straight down with the biscuit cutter helps make clean cuts which allow for even rising. If you twist/rotate the cutter while pressing down, that can cause the edge of the biscuit dough to "pinch" on itself which inhibits rising on the edges (and thus less overall rise). If you don't have biscuit cutters, cut the dough into squares with a sharp knife after trimming the edges off (the edges won't rise easily).
As you cut biscuits, place them directly on a baking sheet pan. Place them close together, either just touching or about to touch. If they touch, it will help them rise but you'll need to pull them apart after they've been baked.
Scraps left over from the cuts can be pressed together and rerolled to make more biscuits, but these biscuits will be denser than the first group.
Continue to line you baking pan until you've used all the dough. With my large biscuit cutters and this recipe, I make eight biscuits.
Bake at 450°F (230°C) until risen and golden brown - about 15 minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the baking pan and place on a wire rack to cool. This prevents the bottoms from getting soggy as they cool. (In a pan, moisture from the steam begins to condense. On wire rack, the moisture from the steam can freely escape from the bottom of the biscuit into the air.)
Serve while warm or at room temperature.}?>
Southern Buttermilk Biscuits (makes approximately 8 large biscuits)
|Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C)|
|2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour||mix||cut in until pea sized||mix||dust with flour and roll into ball||roll into large rectangle, dust, and envelope fold||envelope fold other direction||press into 1-in thick block||cut and arrange on baking sheet pan||bake 450°F (230°C) 15 min.||cool on wire rack|
|4 tsp (18 g) baking powder|
|1/2 tsp (2.3 g) baking soda|
|1/2 tsp (3 g) table salt|
|2 Tbs (28 g) unsalted butter|
|2 oz (55 g) leaf lard|
|1 cup (235 mL) buttermilk|