Is there nothing better than a flaky biscuit? Look below for simple steps on how to make delectable Southern Style Biscuits! Cover them with sausage gravy or eat them with fried chicken!
The term “biscuit” was a British word that describes a thin cookie or cracker. In the United States, especially the South, biscuit means something very different. In modern times, it refers to a layered and flaky bread that is made from flour, salt, baking soda or baking powder, butter or shortening, and buttermilk or milk. Biscuits are usually leavened with baking soda or baking powder instead of yeast. They are a type of “quick bread”, which refers to the fact that they do not need any rise time before baking.
Biscuits can be prepared in different ways. One can roll the dough flat and then cut the dough into rectangle or circle shapes using a biscuit cutter or knife. Or one can create a stiff wet batter and then drop spoonfuls of batter onto a baking sheet. This method is for “drop biscuits”. Originally, large drop biscuits were called “cat head biscuits”, because the exterior texture was very rough and the size was equivalent to a cat’s noggin. A variation on the Southern biscuit is a cheese biscuit, which is made by adding cheese to a basic biscuit recipe.
Flaky biscuits originated in the American South. Biscuits were so revered in the pre-Civil War South that they were usually only eaten on Sundays. They were invented out of necessity. In the early 19th century, Southern cooks wanted to produce a bread to eat with their meals that required no yeast. Yeast was pricey and difficult to store. The first Southern Style Biscuits were “beaten biscuits”. To create beaten biscuits, cooks would laboriously beat and fold dough to incorporate air into the mixture. This method caused the biscuits to rise and expand when baked in an oven. Biscuits were a better addition to meals than sliced bread because they were hard and could maintain their shape. People would use the biscuits to scoop up gravy in a popular dish called Biscuits and Gravy, eat them with fried chicken and barbecue, layer them with fruit and whipped cream to make shortcake, or they were eaten for breakfast served with butter, honey, or jam.
Southern Style Biscuits Flaky Recipe
Yields 12 biscuits
Specialty Tools: Pastry blender, 2 inch biscuit cutter, and pastry brush
Prep Time 20 minutes
Bake Time 18 to 20 minutes
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Extra butter for glazing
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a large bowl, pour in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix together with a whisk.
Add the butter and shortening to the bowl and mix with a pastry blender until the butter is the size of peas. (Do this step as quick as possible, you do not want the butter to melt).
Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk. Stir until the mixture is just moistened. (Dough will be sticky).
Flour a cutting board and place the dough on it.
Dust the top of the dough with flour. Knead gently about five times by folding the dough gently over itself.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to be about 1 inch thick.
Cut the biscuits with a floured 2 inch biscuit cutter, until you run out of space.
Reform the dough scraps, but work with it as little as possible. Cut the biscuits until all the dough is cut. (Scrap biscuits will not be as pretty as the first).
Place the biscuits to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Brush the biscuits with melted butter.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown on top.
Serve hot or warm.
It is very important for the ingredients to be cold, especially the butter, in order for the biscuits to puff up properly.
If you do not have a pastry blender, use your hands. Though you will have to work very quickly so the butter does not melt!
Variation: Throw in a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh dill and a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh parsley to make Herb Southern style Biscuits!
Variation: Add 1/3 cup chopped ham or cooked bacon bits into the mixture to make the biscuits very savory!
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