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Lois Ann's Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits

Where I grew up in Pennsylvania, biscuits were not that popular. My mother made them occasionally but, even though she made most things from scratch, her biscuits always came from a boxed mix and they were very good. (She made her pancakes and waffles from that box, as well. Sorry Mom, the secret is out.) When I moved to the south, I had a rude awakening. Biscuits are served everywhere, for breakfast and with many dinner meals. It was obvious that every southern cook had to make good biscuits.

I watched Lois Ann Foster, who was born and raised in the south, many times as she made biscuits from scratch, never measuring an ingredient except for the flour. I never quite got it right because, even for her, it was hit-and-miss. After reading many recipes, I discovered that most buttermilk biscuit recipes include baking soda because it is not in self-rising flour, and that was an ingredient Lois Ann failed to mention. It took a long time to learn to make these biscuits, but I finally got it. Once you get the technique and the feel for the dough, biscuit making is very easy and the results are delicious.


Preheat oven to 450° F. In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking soda. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork just until the dough pulls together, no longer.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Dip your hands in flour, bring the dough together and pat until it is 1/2-inch thick. Using a glass or biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut into 2-1/2 inch rounds. Bring remaining dough together and continue. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. (For biscuits with soft edges, place touching. For biscuits with crispier edges, place slightly apart.) Bake for 12 minutes or until golden.

Notes: If you do not have self-rising flour, biscuits can be made with two cups all-purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. The other ingredients and preparation remain the same. In recent years, I have stoppped using shortening in most recipes and only use non-hydrogenated shortening in others. For these biscuits, you can substitute 8 tablespoons of chilled butter, preferably unsalted, for the shortening. The texture will be slightly different, but it will add flavor.