When I was a kid I was trying to open a can of refrigerated biscuits when the can fell out of my hand and landed on one of my big toes. After many tears and a blackened toenail, I eventually had to go to the hospital where the doctor drilled a hole in my toenail. I still wince thinking about it.
You would think that incident would have put me off refrigerator biscuits for the rest of my life, right? Not so much. Until recently, my idea of making biscuits involved smacking a can against the counter.
After playing around with several biscuit recipes I discovered that they are easy to make and there is far less risk of injury. Homemade biscuits are quick and easy too. I used a recipe from Paula Deen for a while and then tried the one on the package of that most-Southern-of-pantry-staples, White Lily Flour. They were all very good, but it wasn't until I started using Bakewell Cream that I achieved the biscuits I was looking for: light and fluffy on the interior and a hint of crisp on the exterior.
Bakewell Cream was created in Maine during World War II as a substitute for cream of tartar or baking powder due to food shortages. Who would have thought an ingredient from up North could improve this Southern staple?
I use a mixture of shortening and butter in my biscuits. Shortening gives them a flaky texture and butter adds flavor. I generally use whatever milk I have in the fridge. That's usually skim and heavy cream so I'll mix a little of each because I think the biscuits need some fat in addition to liquid. Buttermilk would be an excellent replacement if you have some you need to use up.
A couple of these light and fluffy biscuits smothered with some gravy and some locally harvested sausage patties is the perfect Sunday morning treat.
Light and Fluffy Biscuits
adapted from Bakewell Cream
4 cups flour
4 tsp Bakewell Cream
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cup milk
Place dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk together.
Add shortening and butter and mix with pastry blender or with your fingers until they are incorporated into the dry ingredients but you still have discernible pieces of butter and shortening in the mix.
Add the milk all at once, and stir quickly with a fork until the mixture comes together into a soft dough.
Turn out on floured board and knead 5 or 6 times.
Roll or pat dough to 1/2' to 3/4' thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and place on baking sheet. Re-roll scraps as gently as possible and continue cutting until dough is used up.
Bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
Turn off oven and leave biscuits in oven to continue to cook for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.
Makes about 12 biscuits if using a 2" biscuit cutter.