Endlessly versatile, fresh-baked biscuits are one of the glories of Southern cuisine. This recipe draws on a variety of tricks, tips, and techniques to make the best biscuits ever.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Sift the unbleached and cake flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add the butter and shortening and stir to coat them with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the fats until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces of fat. Stir in enough of the buttermilk to moisten the dough, and mix until it clumps together.
- Scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using floured hands, pat the dough into a rectangle about 14 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 1/4 inch thick. Slide a long metal icing spatula or knife under the dough to loosen it, if necessary. Fold the dough in thirds, like a letter, folding the left side over first and brushing off any excess flour. Turn the dough so the long open flap faces you. Flour the surface again, and repeat the patting, folding, and turning so the open flap faces you.
- Pat the dough into a rectangle about 10 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 3/4 inch thick. For rectangular biscuits: Using a large knife, quickly and firmly cut the dough in half horizontally, and then vertically into 6 strips to make 12 rectangular biscuits. For round biscuits: Cut rectangular biscuits. Working with one at a time, shape a dough rectangle into a round by placing your palms on both sides of the biscuit and rotating the biscuit on the work surface to soften the biscuit’s edges. The resulting round biscuit will be about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
- Transfer the biscuits, spacing them well apart, to an ungreased, large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits have risen and are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Recipe by Rick Rodgers
Rick Rodgers is an award-winning cooking teacher and the author of over 40 cookbooks on a wide range of subjects, including The Big Book of Sides (Ballantine). In addition to writing the TasteBook.com column ‘”Tips from the Test Kitchen,” Rick works with entertainment figures, corporations, and celebrity chefs on their cookbooks. His clients include Tommy Bahama, Frankie Avalon, Patti LaBelle, and Williams-Sonoma. See more of his work on www.RickRodgers.com.