December 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

I was lucky enough one weekend this Fall to be a houseguest of a true (and fellow) biscuit lover. Nothing frozen out of a can for that lady; biscuits were from scratch and heavenly, reminding me very much of those my paternal grandmother used to make.

My friend, the biscuit lady, made oversize ones for a breakfast buffet for her lucky guests. Arrayed beside the basket of warm split biscuits were soft-scrambled eggs with pepper-jack cheese, sausage patties, shredded sharp cheddar, crisp bacon with a small side dish of mango chutney, slices of ham with honey mustard and, of course, there was butter and strawberry jam. It was very hard to choose a filling but somehow we managed. Except for one who put small dollops of everything on a plate and buttered the biscuit which he ate on the side. A large fruit bowl and plenty of hot coffee and tea rounded out our breakfast.

My friend baked her biscuits the day before, wrapped them in foil and stowed them, room temp., in a zip-lock bag. She then quickly and gently reheated them in the oven just before serving. Since there were several more of us than six, she made a double batch. She doesn't recommend freezing them.

Think about your own fillings. Liking savory things myself, I'm thinking creamed chicken with red bell peppers, or panko-fried shrimp crowned with guacamole. Now that's breakfast!


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 tablespoons cold and thinly sliced, 2 tablespoons melted)

1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. In a large bowl, whisk the 2 cups flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using your fingers, rub in the sliced butter, leaving large flakes of coated butter. Freeze the mixture until very cold, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the buttermilk until a raggedy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and press or roll into a 9-by-7-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Fold the rectangle into thirds, like a letter, then fold the rectangle in half to make a little package. Press or roll out the dough to a 9-by-7-inch rectangle again. Repeat the folding process once more, then roll the dough out for the third time to a 9-by-7-inch rectangle. Using a 3-1/2-inch round cutter, stamp out 4 biscuits. Pat the scraps together and stamp out 2 more biscuits.

Arrange the biscuits on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the melted butter.

Bake for about 14 minutes, reversing the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve warm.

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