Homemade biscuits are a Saturday morning tradition at our house. Actually, they used to be a Sunday morning tradition, until I had to start being at 8 a.m. rehearsals at church. Now they’re for Saturday mornings. This recipe relies on a process (i.e. a sequence of steps) as much as the ingredients. The ingredients are actually really basic:
Two cups of flour (plus 1/2 c. for cutting out biscuits), 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/3 c. shortening, and 1 c. milk.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the shortening is about the size of peas. Make a well in center of flour mixture, and pour in the milk.
Stir in the milk just until moistened. Dough will be sticky and all the milk may not be absorbed right away. That’s okay, just let it sit while you prepare the baking pan.
Now, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. For the best biscuits, use a 10-inch black iron skillet. (My husband taught me this shortly after we were married.) Cut 2 tablespoons of butter until small cubes, and scatter them over the bottom of the pan. (This is important for a nice crusty bottom.)
Put the pan in the oven, to heat the pan and melt the butter. Check occasionally to make sure the butter doesn’t burn. Meanwhile, put the 1/2 c. additional flour on a pastry cloth or cutting board, and spread it out a little to make a spot for cutting out the biscuits.
Turn out the biscuit dough onto the flour. Flour your hands well and knead the dough a little, turning it only 5 or 6 times. The secret to light, fluffy biscuits is handling the dough as little as possible.
Pat the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness, and cut out biscuits with a round cutter. Biscuits rise better with a quickly-cut edge.
My biscuit cutter is about three inches in diameter, and I make about eight biscuits. Then gather up the scraps, and very carefully knead and shape them into one large round biscuit, and cut it in half cross-wise. (This just how they I think they fit best in the pan, but there’s really no right or wrong way.)
If you haven’t already taken the skillet out of the oven, do so now. Carefully place the smaller round biscuits around the edge of the pan, and the two halves of the larger biscuit in the center. It will look like a biscuit-dough daisy.
Now let the biscuits sit in the hot pan for about 5 minutes. This will start the rising process, and make them really light and fluffy. (I discovered this quite by accident when I waited a while to put the biscuits in the oven.) Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned.
Now, serve hot, with plenty of butter and hopefully, homemade jam of some kind. I have fig jam and satsuma marmalade here. Hope you enjoy them!