This whole week in New Jersey has been raining and miserable, which seems to be a pretty accurate reflection of my job and life at the moment, so I really needed something amazing and homey and rich and flaky and warm to make me feel like it was really going to be okay. What I needed were biscuits. Not just any biscuits. Light as air, soft as silk, and tender at the heart. I am what I eat.
Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown and his grandmother Ma Mae
1½ cup all-purpose flour*
½ cup cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
2 tablespoons lard or Crisco shortening, chilled
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
Preheat oven to 450F.
Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter and lard until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Pour in buttermilk, and stir with a spoon until just mixed.
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and pat with floured hands just until dough comes together. Handle the dough as little as possible. Pat into a 1-inch high round, and use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut straight down, then twist slightly to pop the biscuit round loose of the surrounding dough. Combine scraps, repat into a round, and cut additional biscuits.
Place the biscuits on a thick aluminum baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat to avoid burning the bottoms. Arrange in rows, with biscuits just touching. Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Serve warm with butter.
*If you're lucky enough to have a source for White Lily flour, you can use 2 cups of it and eliminate the cake flour.