There is nothing healthy about this biscuit, but there is no better biscuit recipe on the planet. I write that with a heavy heart because growing up my Georgia born and raised Southern grandmother lived with us and she made buttermilk biscuits every single day. And they were so good. I could cry just thinking about them. But, no matter how many times I made them with her or how many times she walked me through the process, I cannot make her recipe work for me. I don't know what it is! She just had the touch. It breaks my heart that she is not around to make them for us any more. She just used flour, baking powder, Crisco, and buttermilk and they would rise and be absolutely beautiful. When I make them they come out like pancakes. (She would cut them open while they were hot and add extra-sharp cheddar cheese slices. Mmmmmmmm.)
Paula Deen's recipe calls for yeast and the biscuits puff up and are just as tender and moist as they can be. I do, however, add one step that my grandmother never forgot and that takes these biscuits over the top. But first, the ingredients:
1 package yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup Crisco
2 cups buttermilk
Mix the 1/2 cup of water to the yeast and add just a pinch of sugar, which feeds the yeast (or as Tinker Bell says, "the little burpy guys"). Set aside. Meanwhile, pour your two cups of buttermilk into a bowl to let it lose some of its refrigerated cool.
Use a pastry cutter (or two knives) to cut the shortening into the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt. It will start out like this:
And end up looking like this:
When your yeast has proofed (about 5 minutes), add it to the buttermilk and stir.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just barely combined. The longer you mix it the tougher your biscuit will be. You want tender, soft biscuits, so barely mix! Then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to your desired thickness. I like them big and fluffy, so I don't pat it out too much and am only able to cut about 7 biscuits before having to reroll. If you flatten the dough you will have flat biscuits. Then you'll think I was lying to you about how much these biscuits puff. :) I use a large cup, not a biscuit cutter.
Place your biscuits (about 12 with leftover dough) onto a greased cookie sheet. Now here is my grandmother's secret touch...rub each biscuit top with buttermilk. Instead of a flat, dull biscuit top you will have a glossy, slightly crisp top.
Paula suggests baking them at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, but my biscuits always require about 15-16 minutes. Aren't they pretty?!!
Serve them with cheddar cheese slices, butter, jam, honey, gravy, or (our family favorite) bacon, egg, and cheese.