Happy National Biscuit Day! Yes, that’s right, May 14th is officially dedicated to the buttery bread known as the biscuit, and what a wonderful holiday it is.
Now, I didn’t eat a lot of biscuits growing up, but they are serious business in both Georgia (where I was raised) and North Carolina (where Rachel and I went to school). As far as fast food goes, Bojangles is like a religion, but Biscuitville and Chik-fil-a also have decent options. The latter’s chicken biscuits were available at my school bookstore on Tuesday and Thursday and man, did they sell fast. At sit-down restaurants, biscuits are a wonderful (and very common) way to start a good Southern meal.
Here’s the thing about biscuits: they are great as a bread basket option accompanied by honey, jelly–I’m partial to strawberry–or butter, but they are equally as fabulous as a main course (think biscuits and gravy, sausage biscuits, chicken pot pie etc.). And for a great recipe, who better to turn to than Paula Deen, Savannah chef and queen of butter (via Sunshine Mom):
- 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 (I use butter)
- 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 (Note: this is a lot of work without a pastry cutter). 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.
Place your biscuits (about 12 with leftover dough) onto a greased cookie sheet. Rub each biscuit top with buttermilk. Instead of a flat, dull biscuit top you will have a glossy, slightly crisp top. Baking at 400 degrees for 12 minutes (maybe closer to 15).
Biscuits are temperamental–you have to get the measurements and the proofing and the mixing just right. If you manage that on your first go-round, congrats. But if not, don’t be discouraged. Perfect golden biscuits, fresh out of the oven, are totally worth the wait. Mine turned out a little bit flat, but they tasted SO good!