Last weekend we were down in South Carolina for a friend's wedding. While there, I wandered into the Food Lion up the street from the hotel to get some beer. I not only found, much to my delight, Sweetwater IPA, but Cheerwine and most importantly of all, White Lily Flour. Hadn't seen Sweetwater anywhere but Georgia, and it's one of my favorites so I stocked up. Got some Cheerwine just because, but I'm not a big sweet soda drinker so I wasn't all that excited about that. The flour, on the other hand, was a HUGE find. I've been trying to perfect biscuits and pie crusts, and had decided my failures were due to one of 2 things, either a complete lack of cooking ability or the wrong flour. I kept hearing about White Lily, (especially from Kat here) but couldn't find it locally. Tried other brands and even cake flour, but nothing provided that perfect, light, melt in your mouth biscuit I've experienced only in the South.
Well, I'm here to tell you, today all that changed.
Like I said, I've been trying to perfect biscuits, so have looked at a LOT of recipes. I knew a couple things, I wanted to steer clear of Crisco and I wanted rolled biscuits as opposed to drop biscuits. Avoiding Crisco just because I've discovered I don't like it, and wanted rolled biscuits because I like to make sausage sandwiches and they seem to work better. The biscuits pictured above are actually rolled biscuits, though they may not look like it. I don't have a proper biscuit cutter so I used a coffee can. They're HUGE. That's a full sized dinner plate they're sitting on.
Anyway, I ended up coming up with a recipe based on a combination of a lot that I've seen (including Kat's).
2.5 cups White Lily AP flour plus more for rolling
1/2 stick cold butter cut into 1/4" cubes
1/4 cup cold lard
(this is the only thing I'm going to change. I used too much butter and lard. I think I can get by with a little over half the amounts I used, so maybe 2TB butter and 2TB lard)
3/4-1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1TB baking powder (I used Aluminum free to avoid the metallic taste)
1/4 tsp baking soda
I use a food processor because it makes it a lot easier, and more importantly it incorporates the fat much more quickly, allowing it to stay cold and solid.
Preheat oven to 500˚. This takes a while, at least in my oven.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda into food processor and pulse to combine.
Then add the butter and lard and pulse until you have pea sized chunks, about 7 or 8 times with my food processor. You can also do this by hand, but if you do you'll be warming the fat, so refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes prior to rolling. A pastry blender will work too.
Once you have your fat incorporated, dump the mixture into a large bowl and add the buttermilk. This is really done by feel. You want quite a wet dough, so just keep adding buttermilk and mixing with your fingers until all the flour is moistened. The dough should be WAY too wet to even think about rolling at this point.
Now take another 3/4 of a cup to a cup of flour and dump it on your board. Spread it out to about a 12"x12" area and then dump your dough in the middle.
Now, VERY GENTLY with the side of your hand, start folding the dough over on itself incorporating some of the flour on the board with each fold. This is technically kneading I guess, but BE GENTLE. You'll want to do this 4 or 5 times until the dough is just dry enough to roll and cut. It will still be VERY SOFT. What you've done here is created layers, so you'll have flaky biscuits.
Now roll out to 3/4" thick and cut the biscuits and place shoulder to shoulder on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. You can grease a sheet pan or cookie sheet but I've found this makes the bottoms of the biscuits a tad crunchy and over browned for my taste. You'll want the biscuits touching each other to promote an even rise and to prevent over browning of the sides.
Make a dent with your thumb in the middle of each one to avoid "the hump" in the middle. I put mine in the fridge for about 8 minutes while I waited for my oven to come to temp.
Bake 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your biscuits and how your oven works. For my ginormous biscuits, it took exactly 13 minutes. Tops should be brown and they will have risen a good bit when done.
I gotta say, these are the biscuits I've been trying to make for years. I'm so freaking happy I could bust!! After all my failures I really thought I'd never, ever, be able to make good biscuits. Even though I over did it on the fat, they're far and away the best I've ever made. They certainly aren't heavy, but I think with less fat they'll rise even higher and be a bit lighter. As is though, they're really light and tender.