American biscuits are quintessential Southern. To be clear; the fluffy, flakey, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, lightly, browned disks made of flour, fat, milk or buttermilk are all characteristics of a typical Southern biscuit. There was never a question of whether or not I’d cover biscuits on the Dirty Skillet but rather how and where do I start? How many is too many biscuit recipes? Needless to say, this will not be the last time you see a biscuit recipe here.
While I’m a work in progress when it comes to baking, I was pretty confident about tackling these biscuits. In general, I’ve made biscuits with my mom on many occasions, each very freeform and huge. I guess you’d call them cathead biscuits. But this go around I wanted to create something with a little more height and structure. With a little light research, I learned that one of the keys to getting that desired height is to make sure each biscuit touches each other in the pan. Mind. Blown. That never occurred to me. That little change, made a big difference in the end.
3 cups self-rising flour + extra for dusting working surface
1½ sticks of cold butter + 2 tablespoons melted (optional)
3 ounces cold cream cheese
1½ cups cold buttermilk (to start)
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
2. Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the cold butter and cream cheese into the flour. You’re looking for a crumbly consistency. Next, pour the buttermilk into the bowl and stir until just combined. The dough should be very sticky and tough to manage by hand. Add more buttermilk if dough is still dry. Dust the top of the dough and the surface of a clean countertop.
3. Turn your dough onto the top of the countertop. Dust the top (formerly the bottom) of the dough with flour. Gently pat down the dough until you have about ½ inch thick round. Cut out biscuits using a 2.5-inch cutter (or wine glass in my case) making sure you cut straight down. Place biscuits aside on the flour dusted countertop as you reform dough to cut out remaining biscuits. You should be able to get about 8 biscuits with a few scraps leftover.
4. Take the hot skillet out of the oven. Add the vegetable shortening and let it melt. This should happen fairly, quickly. Starting on the outer edge of the skillet, place your biscuits in the skillet so that they touch. Bake biscuits for 20-25 minutes. Brush biscuits with butter (optional).