About the Recipe
3 Tbsp unsalted butter* (+2 Tbsp for brushing)
3 Tbsp vegetable shortening*
½ - ¾ cup cold buttermilk*
2 scant cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp baking powder (replace if over 9 months!)
2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt)
2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°.
Grate butter with a cheese grater (recommended) or use a knife to cut into tiny cubes. Measure shortening by the tablespoon. Place all the fat onto a small plate and into the fridge to chill until needed.
Measure buttermilk (or substitute) and place it into the fridge to chill until needed.
Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk or stir for 15 seconds.
Once all ingredients are measured and chilled, add chilled fat to the bowl. Work swiftly to cut (or mix/blend) the butter and shortening into the flour. Use a pastry cutter (recommended) or two forks to cut fat into small ‘beads’ until the mixture looks like sandy gravel. There should be lots of pebbley bits of fat coated in flour.
Make a well in the center of the fat-flour mixture and add half the liquid. Stir with a fork as flour absorbs the liquid. Push all the shaggy bits of hydrated flour to the side, and add half the remaining liquid to the dry flour at the bottom and stir again. Keep adding liquid a splash at a time until the dough just holds together. Be flexible when adding liquid (see note below). When your fork becomes useless, switch to using your hands and gently press the dough down and fold it over itself in the bowl until you can pick up the dough in one piece. Be sure to catch any remaining crumbles.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Gently pat or roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 6x9 inches and about 1 inch thick. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 3 even rectangles. Stack the rectangles and gently pat or roll into a rectangle again. Repeat this step once or twice or until dough is a cohesive mass. Add a pinch of flour to board and dough, as needed. When ready to cut the biscuits, pat or roll the dough into a rectangle approximately ½ inch thick.
Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 even squares. For round biscuits, use a round cookie or biscuit cutter to stamp biscuits out. If using a biscuit cutter, do not twist to release the dough (this prevents even rising), and be very gentle when gathering scraps.
Transfer biscuits to a greased baking sheet or cast iron skillet, arranging biscuits so that each one gently touches it's neighbors - they'll "climb" each other as they rise. Lightly brush each biscuit top with beaten egg. This is optional but helps greatly with browning.
Bake for 10 minutes (set a timer!) in a *very* hot oven. Quickly check for rising and browning, and then rotate pan. After that, bake in 2 minute increments until richly golden brown and the middle is firm to the touch (likely no more than 12-14 minutes total). Remove from the oven and brush biscuits with melted butter. Serve warm with salted butter, jams, honey, cheeses, meats, and/or gravies.