Excerpt from Cookwise by Shirley O'Corriher
I used her bread bowl, her flour, her buttermilk - I did everything the same, and I shaped the biscuits just as she did. But mine always turned out a dry, mealy mess. I would cry, "Nannie, what did I do wrong?" She would lean down and give me a big hug and say, "Honey, I guess you forgot to add a touch of grace." It took me twenty years to figure out what I was missing.
These are my grandmother's feather-light, real Georgia biscuits. For company, or just for yourself, you need to make these biscuits with part cream at least once - I got a standing ovation for them at an international food conference in Sicily.
Nonstick cooking spray
1.5 cups Southern self-rising flour (see notes)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespons shortening
1 to 1.25 cups buttermilk or .75 c buttermilk and .5 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour for shaping (see Notes)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 475 degF (246 decC) and spray an 8 inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine the self-rising flour, soda, salt, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. With your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the shortening into the flour mixture until there are no shortening lumps large than a big pea.
3. Stir in the buttermilk and let stand for 2 or 3 minutes. This dough is so wet that you cannot shape it in the usual manner.
4. Pour the cup of all-purpose flour onto a plate or pie tin. Flour your hands well. Spoon a biscuit-size lump of wet dough into the flour and sprinkle some flour over the wet dough to coat the outside. Pick up the biscuit and shape it roughly into a soft round. At the same time, shake off the excess flour. The dough is so soft that it will not hold its shape. As you shape each biscuit, place it in the pan. Push the biscuits tightly against each other so that they will rise up and not spread out. Continue shaping biscuits in this manner until all of the dough is used. To make a large batch of biscuits in a hurry, spray a medium-small (about 2-inch) ice cream scoop with nonstick cooking spray. Cover a jelly-roll pan with all-purpose flour. Quickly scoop biscuits onto the flour, sprinkle with flour, shape, and place in small pans.
5. Brush the biscuits with melted butter and bake just above the center of the oven until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for or 2 minutes in the pan, then dump out and cut the biscuits apart. "Butter 'em while they're hot!" Split the biscuits in half, butter or spread with Cherry-Chambord Butter and eat immediately.
Notes: If low protein Southern self-rising flour is not available, use 1 cup national-brand self-rising all-purpose and 1/2 cup instant flour (such as Shake & Blend or Wondra) or cake flour, plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. If self-rising flour is not available, use a total of 1.5 teaspoons baking powder.
Do not use self-rising flour for the shaping since the leavener will give a bitter taste to the outside of the biscuits.
From the book "Cookwise" by Shirley O'Corriher. I highly recommend this book. If you're interested in chemistry or just knowing why come cooking methods work and some don't, or even just tweaking up your recipes to get just the kind of cooking or scrambled eggs that you like, this book is for you. Another thing about this book that I love is that it has great anecdotes like the one for this recipe (of which I've just shown an excerpt).
We first made this recipe for Thanksgiving 2006. It is very fluffy!
See book for Cherry-Chambord Butter recipe. It looks positively decadent. :-)
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