There are two kinds of biscuits, in my mind. There are the flaky layer kind of biscuits, like Dorie Greenpan's wonderful ones, that require cold cold butter and a light hand. Then, there are these. These are soft, tender, not layered, but puffed up by steam and slightly sweet. Perfect for chocolate gravy, I might add. Or soup. Or snack.
This was the first thing I made out of Bakewise. Shirley Corriher is a mad scientist, but actually this recipe was reprinted in Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Pie and Pastry bible, which means I've had this under my nose for a decade and just now am discovering it. The Bakewise edition has a charming story about how these were biscuit her grandma made, and young Shirley never got them right, as she left out "a touch of grace." The "grace" turns out to be gently tossing them in flour and minimally shaping them. But RLB makes them foolproof!
And as for the 2 types of biscuits? I can't decide which I like more, but it's a problem I'm glad to have.
Touch of Grace Biscuits
Adapted from the Pie and Pastry Bible, who initially adapted it from Bakewise
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups Southern self-rising flour (7.5 oz), such as White Lily
OR substitute for the White Lily: 1 cup all purpose flour with 1/2 cup cake flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and add an extra 3/4 teaspoon salt
½ tsp. salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk or heavy cream
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 oz) for tossing
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted for TOPPING
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and spray an 8” round cake pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the self-rising flour, salt, and sugar and whisk to mix well. Add the shortening and, using your fingers, rub it into the flour mixture until there are no lumps bigger than a large pea.
Stir in the heavy cream or buttermilk. Don't overmix, or gluten will form and make them tough. Let stand for 2-3 minutes to let moisture absorb. The dough will be very wet, resembling mashed potatoes.
Pour the all-purpose flour into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Rub your hands in the flour to dust them well. Using a ¼-cup measuring scoop or something of similar size, spoon a lump of wet dough into the flour, and sprinkle some flour over it to coat well. Gently pick it up and shape it into a soft round. I do this by cradling it in the cupped palm of one hand and gently shaking it, letting the excess flour fall through my fingers. Place biscuit in pan and repeat with remaining dough, pushing biscuits tightly against one another so that they will rise up and not spread out.Brush with melted butter.
Raise the heat to 500 degrees at this point, bake for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 475 and bake for 10-15 more minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes, then unmold and eat.
Makes 10-12 biscuits