Biscuits with yeast? You know I had to try these! The short blurb about these biscuits in Southern Biscuits says that they're also called Bride's Biscuits because they're foolproof. With both yeast and chemical leavening, it's hard to imagine what you could do to these biscuits to cause them not to rise.
It felt a little strange kneading a dough that was also under the influence of a chemical leavener; not a problem, just different. They end up tasting very buttery—more than I expected for the amount of butter in the recipe. I can't explain why, but it's a great result.
What Worked: These biscuits don't have to be baked immediately, which is great. I made one batch right away, and a second batch the following day, although the recipe said the dough could be refrigerated for up to a week. If that's not enough time, these are supposed to freeze well.
What Didn't: I thought the angel wings were a pretty presentation, but I wouldn't suggest making them for an important dinner without a little practice. Some of my wings did a little moving around in the oven, and thus weren't very wingy.
Suggested Tweaks: If I were making these for company, I'd make the dough a day ahead, at least. Not only is it more convenient, but the flavor was better. After coming out of the refrigerator, I'd give them a little time to come to room temperature before rolling, though.
Adapted from Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. Copyright © 2011. Published by Gibbs Smith. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved
- Yield:Makes 30 to 40 biscuits
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:1 hour 15 minutes
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons warm water (110 -115 degrees F)
- 5-6 cups commercial or homemade self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- Butter, softened or melted, for finishing
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a small bowl and set aside.
Fork-sift or whisk 5 cups of the self-rising flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep. Break the shortening and butter into pieces and scatter over the flour. Work in by rubbing fingers with the fat and flour as if snapping thumb and fingers together (or use two forks or knives, or a pastry cutter) until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese.
Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Stir the yeast mixture into the buttermilk and pour this mixture into the hollow, stirring with a long wooden spoon. Add flour as needed to make a very damp, shaggy dough.
Flour a clean working surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. With floured hands, knead the dough by folding in half, pushing out, refolding, and turning the dough clockwise until the dough is tender (like a baby’s bottom), about 10 minutes by hand. Add flour as necessary to make a supple dough. There are three options at this point: 1) shape now, 2) for an even lighter biscuit, move to an oiled plastic bag and let rise until doubled, then punch down and proceed to shape, or 3) refrigerate up to one week and use as desired.
When ready to use, divide the dough in half and shape easily. Roll dough out into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round. Fold in half and roll or pat out again until 2/3 to 1 inch thick. Repeat with second half as desired.
For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. Move the biscuits to a greased baking sheet. Let double at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the biscuits on the middle rack of the oven. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back, and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard browning. Continue baking another 6 to 9 minutes as needed, until a light golden brown. When the biscuits are done, remove them from the oven and lightly brush the tops with butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. (If an angel-like touch is desired, sprinkle with flour.) Serve hot, right side up.
To make angel wings, cut folded biscuits into 2 1/2-inch circles. Cut in half, brush with milk along the curved side of both halves, move to a greased baking sheet with the two curved, moistened sides touching, and bake as directed in the recipe.