I believe the secret to my grandmother Grace’s biscuits is that she would talk to them, saying, “Rise, Mr. Biscuit, rise!” And they would. Her buttermilk biscuits were quite similar to these, made with whole milk, but sometimes she’d substitute buttermilk and use baking soda instead of baking powder.
I find that biscuits made with European-style high-fat butter have less water and therefore taste and look a lot better. After you have made the dough, carefully pat it down with your hands and fold it over two or three times; it’s the layers that make biscuits so flaky. Let the dough rest for half an hour or so, roll it out to the thickness you like, then cut it into circles and bake it.
Makes about 1 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, preferably European style, diced
1 cup whole milk
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles cornmeal. Add the milk, stirring until the dough just comes together to form a ball.
2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Gently pat the dough down with your hands and fold it over on itself. Pat the dough down and fold it over once or twice more. Loosely cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for a half hour or so.
3. Being careful not to overwork the dough, roll it out until it is 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut dough into biscuits using whatever cutter you like. Grandmother used an inverted juice glass, which was really an old preserves jar. For more biscuits, use a smaller glass.
4. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake until uniformly golden brown, 10–14 minutes.
Reprinted with permission from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh., © September 2009 Andrews McMeel Publishing