Years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter in Columbus, Indiana, I would often take my breakfast at Sap's Coffee House, an old-fashioned diner that made everything from scratch -- including biscuits for its signature biscuits and gravy. (I know this because I overhead a food service salesman fail miserably while trying to sell the owner a ready-made biscuit mix.)
Though the place was literally a two-minute walk from my apartment, I only ventured inside after a boyfriend visiting from California, horrified that I used instant coffee at home, insisted we find a place with the real stuff. While both Sap's and the boyfriend are long gone, they did instill a love of good coffee -- and good biscuits.
I make a lot of biscuits -- very easy and quick to prepare, they are my go-to breakfast accompaniment, especially when guests are expected. My friend Bev stopped by on Sunday morning after her spin class, and what better way to undo an hour of intense exercise than to enjoy some hot-from-the-oven biscuits, along with some fresh brewed coffee.
These are typical baking powder biscuits -- flaky, buttery and delicious. It doesn't get any better than this.
I make the dough in a food processor, because it makes quick work of cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. But you can use a pastry blender, two knives, or even your fingertips. Start by putting all the dry ingredients into the food processor or a bowl.
Then, add the cold butter and process.
The mixture will (or should) resemble cornmeal when the butter is incorporated.
This recipe calls for milk, which I interpret as whole milk. Having none, I mixed half and half and skim milk. Worked just fine.
This dough is very easy to work with, and wasn't sticky at all.
Cut the biscuits with a biscuit cutter if you have one. The sharp edges allow the biscuit to rise well in the oven.
A pat of butter (and some jam, if you want) only improve a good thing.
Production notes: I followed this exactly, but substituted unsalted butter for the shortening. And I didn't sift the flour, mostly unnecessary these days (except for angel food cake). I must have made large biscuits, because the recipe yielded nine, not 12, biscuits. I baked these at 400 F.