Okay, are y’all ready for some more biscuits?
This is the second batch I made in my ongoing quest for the perfect buttermilk biscuit. You can find Batch Number One, made with unbleached all-purpose flour and shortening here. Batch Number Two was made with bleached, enriched flour and shortening, and actually turned into sub-batch a & b (how disturbingly obsessive is this?).
For these, I bought some White Lily flour, which is an enriched bleached flour that has lower protein and gluten than regular all-purpose. This makes the flour finer, whiter, and silkier and gives biscuits a softer texture. I had not used White Lily before so I wanted to try it, since it’s the most talked about flour surrounding biscuit making in the South.
Here’s a little confession – I like to try new things, but only if it’s my idea. I had heard the hype about White Lily flour, but I grew up with Red Band and just couldn’t believe it was all that much better. (Some people might call that stubborn, I just call it old-fashioned.) But I finally came around and decided it was time to try it.
The reason I ended up with ‘sub-batches’ is because I wanted to try not sifting the flour vs sifting it. And that’s just because, well, I’d rather not sift if I can get away with it.
So, the ones I made first in Batch Two (pictured above) weren’t sifted. They had a softer texture and were lighter than Batch One made with unbleached all-purpose, and were flakier, but didn’t rise quite as high. When I made Batch Two again (pictured below), I sifted the flour and got much better results – higher, lighter and even flakier.
What I’ve learned so far is: 1) bleached flour (White Lily) gives a lighter, softer, and fluffier biscuit texture, 2) if using a soft bleached flour, sifting is essential, and 3) make sure your dough is still pretty sticky, so the biscuits don’t end up too dry and crumbly.
Buttermilk Biscuits #2
makes about 14 biscuits
- 5 cups White Lily flour, sifted before measuring
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup shortening, chilled
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, chilled
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 485 degrees.
- Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until it is in pieces the size of large peas.
- Stir in the buttermilk with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Using your hands, knead the dough to incorporate all the flour. The dough should be sticky; add more buttermilk if it is too dry.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and fold over itself 3 or 4 times to make layers.
- Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin to 3/4 inch thickness, or pat with hands.
- Cut out rounds of dough with a 3 inch biscuit cutter (don’t twist!) and place on a baking sheet so they almost touch.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown, checking about halfway to rotate pan.
- Brush biscuits with melted butter right after removing from the oven. Serve hot.
Next on the list – White Lily with half shortening and half butter. I’ll let you know how it goes!