Is there really a biscuit that can be classified as “perfect”? Sure, there is and you’re looking at it. Why do you think it’s sitting on a pedestal? Because it IS perfect. It’s perfectly layered, soft, and flavorful. The key, I have found through years and years of making biscuits, is all in the technique.
Most biscuit recipes call for the same ingredients – flour, salt, baking powder, butter, and buttermilk (or milk). There are few variations. With this recipe, however, I substitute lard for the unsalted butter (you can use the butter if you prefer). The nutritional analysis is exactly the same except there are 6 more calories in each biscuit with the lard version. When it comes to the final result, it’s well worth using the lard and dealing with those 6 calories, believe me. The texture is softer, more billowy, and they rise higher. At least that’s been my experience.
The technique – well that can make or break your beautiful biscuit. I no longer use a pastry blender to blend the lard/butter into the dry ingredients. This revelation came to me while watching an episode of Bobby Flay’s Grill It some time ago. He used his fingers, rubbing the butter/lard with the flour mixture until it resembled green peas. It takes about the same amount of time but, again, results in a better texture and higher biscuit. I also knead it, folding the dough back over itself, about ten times. The dough should no longer be sticky. I also no longer roll out the dough but pat it out to the desired thickness, again, resulting in a better texture and higher biscuit.
When cutting your biscuits, don’t twist the cutter. If the dough is the right consistency, your cookie cutter should release the dough back onto the surface for you to pick up and place the biscuit onto the cookie sheet for baking.
Again, technique can mean the difference in a soft, delicious, mile high biscuit or a flat, overworked, hockey puck biscuit. I’ve made both and I’ve had both – I much prefer the mile high, soft, delicious biscuit. I think you will too!
- 4 cups All-Purpose flour (White Lily)
- 2 tablespoons Baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 8 tablespoons Lard (or unsalted butter)
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- Heat oven to 500°. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. With your hands, cut lard into the flour mixture by rubbing the lard and flour between your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in buttermilk, and gently mix until just combined. Put dough on floured surface, kneading it until no longer sticky.
- With your hands, gently pat the mixture into ½” high square. Cut biscuits out with large round cookie cutter. Place in the center of a cookie sheet butting the biscuits up to each other.
- Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool to the touch, and serve immediately.