It occurred to me earlier today that I have been cooking for about 40 years now. I’m not quite sure whether to be proud of that fact or to go get my walker and economy size bottle of Geritol. I look back to when I was first starting when I was about ten and it amazes me how much grocery stores have changed. Back when I was a kid, you could still find a fair amount of mom and pop stores that carried the basics and a lot of cheap candy but not much else. Then you had the chain stores, which in the case of where I lived, were Jewel and Dominicks. You could fit two or three of those quite neatly into say, a Super Wal-Mart. They sold more than the mom and pop stores but the variety back in the ’70’s just was NOT what it is now. We take it all for granted and just blithely walk through huge grocery stores without batting an eye, but those of us who are older (as well as those who have lived in other countries that don’t have mega marts like we do) remember it being much different back in the days of the dinosaurs 😛 Stores had about ten aisles and if you wanted something fancy, you’d better have access to a large city with small gourmet shops.
Now however, you can go to any large chain grocery store and get gourmet cheeses, artisan breads, fancy meats and some even sell a good variety of decent wines. One of my favorite things about the here and now is the variety of ice cream hehe. When I was a kid, you got vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, Neapolitan, butter pecan, rocky road and that was about it. My favorite then was Neapolitan , my sisters was Butter Pecan and my brothers was vanilla. He was the boring one 😛 NOW however, I can easily spend 20 minutes in the ice cream aisle choosing from gourmet gelatos and ice creams of every flavor under the sun.
Another thing that has changed is biscuits. You know those four packs of the canned biscuits that make biscuits with very little flavor and that are the size of a silver dollar? That was IT as far as the selection went. Those and *shudders* the prepackaged “Brown N Serve” rolls. My mom got those every holiday and I hated them. Even then I knew there had to be better out there somewhere. And now you can get some pretty good biscuits in the frozen section. But even then, they aren’t homemade. It took me literally years to learn to make a good buttermilk biscuit. Mine were….edible… but rather too hard and dense, to say the least. Now, if I do say so myself, I make some darn good biscuits. I’ve even taught my daughter and one other family member (who prefers not to admit they were schooled by me 😛 ) how to do so. Now I’m writing it down for the rest of you. They are NOT difficult. The main thing to remember with biscuits? A light touch and don’t overwork your dough. It took me forever to figure that out. I used to knead it about a dozen times the way some recipes said to do. Now, I just dump the dough out, press it into shape, fold it a couple of times, press again and cut them. That’s it. Overworking is the death of a biscuit. Plus, as counter intuitive as it sounds, too much fat in the dough will make for a tougher, flatter biscuit. Stick to the ingredients and ratios here and you’ll have great biscuits. It may take a few times to learn to work the dough properly so if these don’t look like my photo right away, don’t sweat it. They will. I promise.
This makes about ten LARGE biscuits. If you want smaller and aren’t feeding an army, you may want to cup the recipe in half. If not, freeze the leftovers, securely wrapped.
You know the drill… 🙂
Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits
- 4 cups self rising flour (please, if you have access, use White Lily brand flour. If you can’t find it, then Martha White is a decent substitute.)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (yes, even though the flour is self rising)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, refrigerator cold and sliced thin
- 1/2 cup solid shortening, chilled and sliced thin
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (use whole milk buttermilk if you can find it. It makes a far better biscuit and really, low fat milk in a biscuit is a waste of time calorie wise)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, Grease a large baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt.
- Drop the butter and shortening into the bowl of flour. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it resembles pea sized crumbs.
- Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk, all at once, Use a fork to stir and combine the milk with the flour until you have a cohesive dough. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured board or counter top. Pat it down into a flat circle. Fold it into thirds like you’re folding a letter to fit into an envelope. Pat it down again, fold it one more time. Finally, pat it into a rough circle of about 1 inch to 1 1/4 inches high.
- Cut out as many biscuits as you can get, laying them right next to each other in the baking pan if you want soft sided biscuits or about an inch apart if you want crisp sided biscuits.
- Bake at 425 for about 20 to 24 minutes, until they are firm on top and golden brown. Take off the pan and serve piping hot, preferably with some nice fresh homemade butter (in the background of my photo and yes, it will be a later post) and good quality jam, preferably something like my homemade Apple Pie Jam because homemade is always better 😀
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