Not biscuits like cookies, and not biscuits like scones. This is an entirely different creature that sizzles from the oven as the butter dances and settles between the flaky layers. It’s what my grandmother called proper southern biscuits, and she often served them within minutes of coming out of the oven with creamy sausage gravy, highly spiced with cracked pepper. It’s an American thing.
These biscuits are rich in calories, saturated fat, and have few redeeming qualities except that they are drop-dead delicious.
Note on the flour: measure 2 cups of plain flour, and then remove 4 level tablespoons of it. Replace it with 4 tablespoons of corn starch or corn flour. This is a substitution for cake flour. If you have access to cake flour, measure 1 cup plain flour and 1 cup cake flour.
2 cups plain flour (note above: less 4T replaced with 4T corn starch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
113 gram (8 tablespoons or one stick) cubed and frozen butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
Cut the butter into very small cubes, lay them out on a plate and place it in the freezer. The butter should be as cold as possible. Frozen is best.
Cut and place two layers of baking paper in opposite directions across the bottom and up the sides of an 8×8-inch baking pan.
Preheat oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8.
Place all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (or in a food processor), and mix to combine thoroughly. (A food processor works brilliantly for this because a plastic blade doesn’t heat up and soften/melt the butter.)
Remove the frozen butter from the freezer, and add it to the bowl or food processor. Use a cheese grater to shred the butter if you’re not using a food processor, rubbing the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips. If using a machine, pulse the food processor until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Tip the flour and butter mixture from the food processor into a medium bowl and dump in all of the buttermilk. Using a dough whisk or a fork, mix gently by tossing and stirring until most the dry mix has been incorporated. Tip all of the contents from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and shape *gently* to form a 6×6” square. Don’t overwork the dough as this will make the biscuits tough.
Using a long knife or a dough scraper, cut the dough into 9 square pieces (cut 3 wide and 3 across for 9). Transfer each square into the paper lined baking pan, leaving a small gap between each square. As they bake, each square will rise and expand to meet its neighbouring square.
The oven *must* be fully preheated. If it’s not, place the baking pan into the fridge or freezer until the oven is ready. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden. Don’t over-cook. Remove from the oven and cool on a plate lined with kitchen towels to absorb butter.
These freeze very well, and can be easily reheated in the oven.