When I was 9 years old and newly arrived in Pascagoula, Mississippi, my mother signed me up for the local 4-H club, where I learned to make these biscuits. I think that time was where the foodie germ came from, because I went on to win a blue ribbon for my biscuits - and from that moment on I never stopped cooking.
In Mississippi, many folks eat biscuits every day - and not just for breakfast. I still remember visiting my next door neighbor, Linda Gail Ivy, after school and sitting at her table dipping buttermilk biscuits in pools of sticky molasses, while her sister blasted the music of local-boy-made-good, Elvis Presley. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes, then got back to the business of eating biscuits.
After years of trying to find a recipe that resembled the one I remember making - I found it, or close to it - on Homesick Texan (.blogspot.com). She's listed on blogs here, so if you click on her blog, then click on top favorites, you'll find the recipe.
I made several batches today - and three sizes of biscuits. I use a drinking glass to cut out two of them, and a pastry tip to punch out little tiny ones for my granddaughter's "tea party". Big, big hit - and big mistake, since she spooned at least a tablespoon of that strawberry jam on each tiny biscuit and down her sparkling white Mexican dress. The big ones are being frozen for our 4th of July strawberry shortcakes - and the medium ones? Gone in a flash............
While the ingredients list seemed to be what I remembered ( except we used lard instead of butter), Ms. Homesick Texan and I have very different ways of technique. The technique I learned was to handle the dough as lightly as possible, and the dough was as soft and silky "as a baby's bottom". Some of my taste testers preferred my method, which made for a softer biscuit, and one that didn't toughen as much after baking.
So herewith, the directions:
Preheat oven to 400.
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled, cut in little pieces (or 1/2 lard, 1/2 unsalted butter)
2 cups flour ( if you have a flour bin , fluff up the flour before measuring, and use a knife to even off the cup measure)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 ( plus or minus) buttermilk
Fluff up flour and measure into a mixer bowl. Add the baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the cut up butter and/or butter and lard and mix until you see pea-size bits of butter in the flour. Add the buttermilk, starting with between 1/2 - 3/4 cup. Mix briefly. If it holds together well, and looks moist, then do not add any more buttermilk. If it still looks dry, add a little buttermilk at a time until it holds together in a damp ball. Remove from bowl to floured board.
Briefly, squeeze dough and form into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out gently to about a half inch thickness. The dough should feel silky and soft as "a baby's bottom".
Using a drinking glass, cut out biscuits and place on a baking sheet that has been fitted with foil. You can re-use the scraps, but don't handle it too much or it will toughen.
Place biscuits close together, and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes.
Remove and cool.
This will make about a dozen medium sized biscuits, about 9 large, and a zillion little pastry tip baby biscuits for tea parties.