My very first job (not counting babysitting, of course) was at a place that shall remain unnamed, but is well known for it’s fried chicken and homemade biscuits. At 15, I was not old enough to be able to do a lot of the back-of-the-house cooking (something about knives and boiling water and hot boiling grease – you had to be 16 for that), but I was old enough to make biscuits. And I did. And I ate one, with butter and honey, every day that I was on the clock.
On occasion, my parents would make us biscuits and gravy for weekend breakfasts growing up. Once we got old enough to read a recipe, my sister’s and I were in charge of making biscuits (traditional, Baking Powder biscuits, primarily) and we rarely, rarely had leftovers.
I still, always, always, make sure to save room for a
dessert biscuit. A biscuit that must be eaten on it’s own, last, with butter and honey.
It wasn’t until about three years ago I had ever heard of a biscuit made with yeast (I think Paula Deen introduced me to them) and once I became a sourdough mama, I thought, why not? I’ve been on the search for a good sourdough biscuit recipe for a long time and, through much experimentation, have finally found one up to my standards! They are just like the baking powder biscuits I grew up on, with a sourdough twang. I love them!
Disclaimer: I do have to admit, though, that I can not stomach whole wheat biscuits. I just can’t. I have tried. I will happily augment muffin recipes, tortillas, breads, pita . . . even cookies sometimes, all great with whole wheat flour. Biscuits? Alas, no. In my house, they must be made with white all purpose, or pastry flour. If you find success with a mix of half white, half whole wheat, or all whole wheat with this recipe, let me know!
makes around 10 biscuits
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup lard, (yes, lard, the “most elegant fat you’ll ever meet”) cold and cut into chunks, or a mix of half lard and half cold/frozen butter
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sourdough starter, freshly fed a few hours earlier
- up to 1 cup of milk
- melted butter
In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients except the baking soda. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter (I use my fingers) cut in the lard (yes, lard. Don’t even try substituting shortening. Lard is where it’s at for flaky biscuits, pie crusts and tortillas. ) or lard and butter into the dry ingredients until it is mealy and the fat is in roughly pea-size pieces, evenly distributed throughout the flour. Add the starter and stir well.
Now, mix the baking soda with just a teaspoon or so of warm water. Add to the dough and stir well.
Then, add in just enough milk to make a biscuit dough. Biscuit dough should be quite sticky and just stick together. It should never be dry.
Dump biscuit dough onto a lightly floured surface, turning to lightly cover with flour and just barely, with your hands, push the dough together to form a rough rectangle. Gently press down until it is about an inch and a half depth.
Why? Because biscuits are pastry and they become flaky through the interspersing of fat throughout the dough melting during baking and making layers. The more times you press the dough together, the more the fat pockets will disperse, the layers will flatten, and the biscuits will be denser. I’m sure someone, somewhere explained it more eloquently, but that is just how it works around here.
Place biscuits, touching, on a greased baking pan or 9″x13″ pan. I prefer baking biscuits (and, actually, all baked goods other than pies) on metal, I feel it makes the crust browner, (something about that heat conductivity thing) but some people swear by glass so choose whichever you have access to! Allow to rest and rise for about half to one hour.
Right before baking, baste the tops of the biscuits with melted butter (this was the secret at the Colonel’s, by the way) and bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30-35 minutes.
This post is written in conjunction with the Octoberfest Carnival of Super Foods hosted by Kitchen Stewardship, Pennywise Platter hosted by The Nourishing Gourmet, Frugal Friday hosted by Life as Mom, Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum and Fight Back Friday hosted by Real Food Renegade and yeastpotting hosted by Wild Yeast.