Makes about 12 biscuits
4 cups flour all-purpose soft wheat flour (I use White Lily)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold lard
1 to 1-1/2 cups cold well-shaken buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a baking pan (about 13-x-9 inches with 1-inch sides) with parchment paper or grease it well with shortening.
2. Measure out the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl that gives you lots of room to work. Mix gently with a fork to combine and aerate the flour.
3. Cut the lard into pieces and sprinkle over the top of the flour mixture. Use the fork to toss the cubes lightly in the flour to coat. Then dip your clean fingers into some flour and mix everything together, squishing and rubbing the mixture together to combine the fats and the flour. Don’t spend too long doing this, gentle handling is the key to a tender biscuit. It’s okay if there are some visible bits of lard left. When you pinch a bit of flour between your fingers, from anywhere in the bowl, it should stick together.
4. Measure out the shaken buttermilk, then pour about 3/4 cup of it over the mixture. Use the fork to fold the buttermilk into the dough, carefully incorporating the liquid. Keep adding the buttermilk a bit at a time until you have a cohesive dough. You may not need all the buttermilk. Again, you don’t want to work the dough too much, but don’t leave much loose, dry flour in the bottom of the bowl. You can use your hands to get that last bit of dry flour into the dough.
5. Lightly flour a work surface. You do want to use a light hand to flour the surface, because too much will leave an unpleasant floury coating on the biscuits. Sprinkling flour through a wire sieve is a great way to do this.
6. Turn the dough out onto the surface, and turn it over on itself once or twice to bring the dough together. I do not say knead, because you don’t want to work the dough that hard. Press the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Just press it out lightly with your hands to an even thickness.
7. Cut the biscuits with a large round cutter or the ring of a quart mason jar, always cutting as close to the edge of the dough and as close together as possible to get as many biscuits as possible. Don’t be too precious about this, these babies are meant to be rough-and-ready. Just press the cutter down and pull back up; don’t twist or the sides won’t rise up as nice. Gently pull the dough scraps together, pat out and cut a few more biscuits.
8. Place the biscuits very close together on the prepared pan, just touching each other. This helps them rise while cooking. Brush the tops with a little buttermilk. What’s clinging to the sides of the measuring cup should be enough.
9. Bake the biscuits in the hot oven for 8 or 9 minutes. Watch the biscuits carefully so they do not over-brown.
10. Eat your biscuits now. But if you have a few leftovers, wrap them in foil and reheat them gently.
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