These biscuits are even better if you use only butter, the texture/consistency does not seem to be afftected, but the taste with using only butter is greatly enhanced!
Recently I wrote a post on my opinion of the different varieties of biscuits available.
Today, I will give you the recipe I have come to believe is about as near to perfect home-made biscuits as there is.
I'm pretty sure that if an English teacher would read that last sentence, it would have a lot of red marks all over it. Sorry.
Here's how you whoop up a batch of biscuits! You won't be needing a pastry blender. You sure don't need to get the food processor out!
Biscuits = SIMPLE!
You need a nice bowl. I use one that came from the second hand store and used to belong to an old mixer. The bowl made it to the second hand store, but the mixer did not. The bowl is heavy white glass and is wider than it is tall, which I like because it lets me get my hands in there to work the fat into the flour.
Set the oven to 425*
Pour one tablespoon less than 1 cup of milk into a cup. Add 1 T. white vinegar. Stir. Or, if you have it, you can just use 1 cup buttermilk, or you can use 1 cup milk or heavy cream, but I recommend the milk with vinegar, or the buttermilk. Set that aside.
Into your nice bowl, measure 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 heaping Tablespoon sugar, 2 heaping tablespoons baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt. (if using kosher salt, as I do, use a slightly heaping 1/4 tsp) Combine these ingredients with a wooden spoon, or the tablespoon you measured with, or just your hand.
Now you need about 1/4 cup COLD butter and 1/4 cup COLD LARD** SEE NOTE AT START OF POST!. If your lard is not cold, its not the end of the biscuit world, but it really is best to work in if its cold. If you home render your own lard, (which I will post instructions for soon) you should keep it in the fridge anyway.
Place the 2 types of fat into the bowl with the flour mixture. I like to cut the butter up and drop it all around into the flour. The lard I scoop small amounts at a time out of the container I have measured it in. (more red marks from the English teacher) Once all of the fat is in the bowl, begin working it into the flour with your fingers. You want to work it in fairly well, but you don't want the finished product to be real consistent looking. You don't want it to resemble "course meal". It will look a little like that, but some of the fat will still be in pea to almond sized pieces. But all of it will be coated with flour. The whole process shouldn't take but maybe a minute or two at the most.
Now pour your buttermilk type stuff into the flour. +++EDIT: NOTE: ONLY POUR IN ABOUT 3/4 CUP! You might not need the entire cup. +++ You can use a wooden spoon, to combine it. Combine it just until it will sort of hold together. I use the spoon only for a few stirs around the outside edge of the bowl. As soon as there's no liquid swirling around in there, I dump the whole mess out on the counter and gently work it quickly into a mass. Knead very little, just enough to get it together. When it will hold together, stop. Remember, you are not kneading bread dough. Light and gentle is the trick here.
You will likely need a dusting of flour on your counter-top. I don't use a rolling pin. I just pat the dough until its about 3/4" to 1" thick. Cut it with a biscuit cutter. Press the cutter down through the dough, but DO NOT TWIST THE CUTTER! That seals the edges of the dough. Place them close together but not touching, in a 9X13 sized pan.
If your oven is up to temp, put them in there. If not, wait until it is. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Mmmm, I can smell them!
Just a thought, these are great with gravy made from bacon drippings!
A couple of variations:
for dumplings make the dough as above, but reduce the sugar to about 1/2 tsp. Pat dough out, and cut with biscuit cutter. Drop the biscuits into gently boiling chicken stew or beef stew, whatever. Put a tight fitting lid on the pot and do not peek for 15 minutes. You can also add a bit of parsley to your dumpling dough. Chicken and dumpling method coming soon!
for shortcake, the kind you might eat with strawberries and whipped cream: I would add another Tablespoon or so of sugar, and cut them a little bigger. These really are better than angel food cake for strawberry shortcake, IMO.