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Biscuits (or How to Not Measure a Damn Thing)

Ingredients listed are what to buy; see recipe for usage:

2 lb White Lily self-rising flour* (just, really)

½ pound good unsalted butter (like Kerrygold) - COLD

1 qt buttermilk

Preaheat oven to 400. Use most of the bag of flour (like ¾; you’ll always need a little for dusting). Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl (you can use a cool old sifter or a fine strainer).

Add about a quarter pound of cold butter cut into cubes (or I hear you can freeze and grate it, but they didn’t make freezer springhouses*).

Use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut and mix the butter into the flour; you want the butter pieces smaller than peas.

Add cold buttermilk a little at a time (it won’t take anywhere near a whole quart) and mix with a spoon until it gets chunky.

If it’s sticky or wet, add a little flour.

Now you can use your hands to stir (and make sure you’re not too wet or dry on the bottom of the bowl). Don’t overwork it (either by turns or by letting your warm hands melt the butter too much - you don’t want it shiny). It should be dough-like (like bread dough) but you should see the folds/flakiness.

I spent many years getting the ratio of wet/dry right (no measurements, remember?), but you’ll get it right.

Turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board, and reserve a little pile of flour to dust your cutter in between cuts.

Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to about ½” thick or a little less. Your cutter can be a rocks glass (you’ll need to roll around to burp the air out) or a round cutter.

Re-clump and roll out your dough as needed to get the thickness you need.

Place the biscuits on a sheet pan (or in a cast iron), same side down as you cut them (the bottoms will be a little flour-y and that’s what you want), and bake until they look good. These do not get golden brown until the bottoms are burned unless you paint them with melted butter. You can, but I don’t.

You should end up with well-risen biscuits with crunchy bottoms! Goes great with any gravy or jelly, or jam (which is not what you think it is…).

Notes: this is my granny’s recipe, sort of. Hers had lard (y’all remind me to render some leaf lard and do it that way too when I can get my hands on some …), and got replaced by Crisco sometime in the 90s… but this is how I do. And that’s why I started with this one; it’s one of the oldest, probably the first one I was allowed to help with, and they were a staple in our house. Which reminds me - you can always revitalize yesterday’s cold biscuit with a pat of butter and a quick warmup.

* White Lily (just a great southern flour, "made with soft winter wheat", and self-rising already comes with leavening and a little salt so you don't have to measure out baking soda & powder).

* A springhouse was how a lot of Appalachian homes practiced refrigeration. These would be wood, stone, or earthen structures built around a spring or a stream that would stay cool enough to preserve meat, dairy, and eggs year-round.

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