Years ago I worked as a high school Family & Consumer Sciences teacher. What’s Family & Consumer Sciences? Most people still refer to it as Home Economics class. These classes are much different now than they were back when my mother and your mother were in high school Home Ec class. But one thing hadn’t changed and that was my goal of teaching my students basic life skills that they can use in their lives as an adult. One of my goals, as a teacher, was to teach my students basic cooking skills. There are some foods that I believe everyone needs to know how to make, as they are often the basis of other recipes. One of those happens to be biscuits. This basic southern biscuit recipe is one that I used every year with my students. Once they had the method down on making this basic recipe we would then use that as a foundation for other recipes like breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, and so much more.
Today I’m sharing with you this Basic Southern Biscuit recipe and in the next few weeks I’m going to share some other recipes that you can create by using this simple recipe and a few more ingredients.
Basic Southern Biscuits
Pastry Cutter (or two knives) (Not sure what a pastry cutter is? Check out our Surviving in the Kitchen Series: Knowing Your Kitchen Utensils.)
Baking pan with 2″ sides
2 Cups Self-Rising Flour (I like either White Lily or Martha White)
1/4 Cup Vegetable Shortening
2/3 to 3/4 Cup milk or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Measure flour into a large bowl.
Divide shortening into pieces and scatter on top of flour. Work pieces into flour with a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingertips until pieces are about the size of peas.
Gradually stir in milk or buttermilk, adding only enough to moisten flour and hold the dough together.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently two or three strokes. Using a light touch, pat or roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, leaving as little dough between cuts as possible. Gather remaining dough and re-roll one time. Discard scraps remaining after second cutting.
Place biscuits on baking sheet with sides touching for soft biscuits, or close together but not touching for crispier sides. Brush tops with melted butter.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are golden brown.
Serve hot out of the oven.
Yield: 12 biscuits
Tips for Great Biscuits
Through the years of teaching and watching hundreds of students attempt to make perfect biscuits I have several tips to share on what to do and what not to do!
1. Do not over knead your dough. If you handle the dough to much your biscuits will be tough and hard. I remember one group of students who had some very unique biscuits! I encouraged them to check into a career making communion crackers! Just kidding. But that’s what your biscuits are like if you handle your dough too much. Fold the dough and press it lightly, repeating only 2 to 3 times to prevent overhandling.
2. If you do not have a biscuit cutter you can use a floured drinking glass as a biscuit cutter but this method seals the edges of the dough which means that your biscuits do not rise as high.
3. If you do not have a rolling pin you can also use a sturdy drinking glass or hard plastic cup to roll out your dough. Just don’t use a glass and press too hard or you will shatter the glass in your biscuit dough!
4. Flip the biscuits. After cutting your biscuits, before placing them on the pan, flip them upside down so that the flat bottom is now on the top. This will help the biscuits to rise evenly.
5. When flouring your surface to roll out the dough be careful not to add too much flour or your biscuits will come out dry.