M: Ah, Sunday morning. Coffee is brewing. Bacon is sizzling on the stove. And best of all, it’s time to take those fluffy, golden biscuits out of the oven. Idyllic. But what’s this? The oven door opens to reveal… dang it. The biscuits didn’t rise. Not one bit. Flat as a dollar. Yeah, we’ll eat ‘em anyway, but the magic of the moment is as deflated as those buttermilk biscuits we were so anticipating. I’m sure there are those biscuit veterans for whom this is never an issue. If this is you, keep it to yourself, as biscuit fail has made me cranky and I might say something discourteous. For the rest of us, if only there was some benevolent biscuit force peeking in to ensure biscuit lift. Well, here it is. In this case, that benevolent force is a second leavener in the form of yeast to ensure a satisfying rise. These biscuits are sometimes called “bride’s biscuits”, because they are all but foolproof for even a new bride, inexperienced in the kitchen (I suggest new grooms refrain from pointing this out when served). It takes an hour long proof for the yeast to do its thing, so it doesn’t have quite the spontaneity factor of knocking out a batch of traditional biscuits.
Biscuit purists may bristle at these, which are breadier and lack the flakiness of traditional biscuits, but the guaranteed rise and a softness just made for sopping puts this in the win column in my book. I thought the yeast would make this more roll than biscuit, but I was very pleased to wind up with something that had some of the earmarks of a well-made powder biscuit. The texture gives the secret away, but you’re not likely to hear any complaints. It’s not polite to talk with your mouth full, after all.
Recipe: Angel Biscuits
Summary: Takes a little longer than your typical biscuit, but a “no-fail” rise may be worth the wait. The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
- 1 (1/4oz) Packet Active Dry Yeast
- 2 T Lukewarm Water
- 5 c Southern Soft-Wheat Self-Rising Flour
- 1/4 c Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 c Vegetable Shortening
- 2 c Buttermilk
- 4 T Butter, melted
- Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm water and let rest until is becomes foamy.
- Stir together flour, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Cut shortening into flour with a pastry cutter until pea-sized pieces form.
- Stir yeast into buttermilk and add to bowl, stirring until mixture is moist (in this state, dough may be refrigerated for up to one week).
- Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/2″ thickness.
- Stamp out biscuits using 2″ biscuit cutter.
- Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise 1 hour, until doubled in bulk).
- Bake 18-20 minutes at 425 degrees until lightly browned.
- Brush with melted butter and serve hot.