This recipe was passed down to my grandmother from her mother — my great grandmother.
Great Granny Eary used a cup of cold unsalted butter. She would grease — an iron skillet if cutting the recipe in half or a 13 x 9 baking/cake pan for the full recipe — with bacon grease or lard to bake them in.
The butter she used was home churned and chilled in a bowl or saucer set on top of a bowl of ice — ice that was usually chipped from a block of ice and used to chill the old fashioned ice box before modern day refrigeration. It didn’t have as much room inside as modern day refrigerators have. It was just a tiny, cool box inside and was usually only used to store her bacon, a glass pitcher or bottle of milk, and sometimes a small basket or bowl of eggs if not used within a few days so they’d last longer. She would put her eggs in water and if they floated upwards they were tossed out and worked into the garden soil along with any used coffee grounds. There was no freezer section in her old style ice box and the area on top where the ice block went was almost completely filled up by the ice block.
I’m amazed my sister and I were never injured as often we would sneak into the kitchen to play with the ice tongs and ice pick! Our mother and grandmother would get on to us repeatedly while Great Granny told them, “Just leave them be! They’ll learn!” I suppose after raising so many children, mostly boys, my great grandmother learned to pick and choose her battles and the value of a lesson learned the hard way.
Granny Betty used 1/2 cup Crisco and 1/2 cup butter chilled in a modern day refrigerator. She buttered a baking sheet to bake them on.
Depending upon the type of pan used, if using the full recipe or halving the recipe, altitude, etc. the bake times will vary. Keep a close eye on the biscuits after the first 8 minutes until they are golden brown.
Grandma Betty’s Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
Put 1/2 cup of Crisco and 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in refrigerator to chill.
Stir 1 Tbsp sugar into 2 cups of buttermilk and set aside.
Butter a large baking pan and set aside.
Place 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup. Repeat three times more for a total of four cups.
Sift two cups at a time of the flour mixture together, sifting three times each, then whisk together in large mixing bowl.
Cut or pinch in cold Crisco and butter until mealy.
Add the sweetened buttermilk and mix together.
Pour dough onto a floured surface and knead about 4 or 5 times.
Sprinkle a bit of flour over top. Roll out with a floured rolling pin until about 3/4 inch thick and cut with 2-1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Dip cutter in flour then press cutter straight down and lift straight up without twisting.
Place on buttered pan almost but not quite touching. Let rest while heating oven to 425 F degrees.
Bake on the buttered pan at 425 F degrees for about 12 minutes or just until golden brown.
Rub tops with a stick of cold butter right away and serve hot.
Makes 16 biscuits
My late husband’s favorite biscuit was store bought Grand’s fluffy layered biscuit. That same effect can be recreated using Granny’s recipe.
Roll out thinner (1/8 inch thick), then using finger tips rub with a very thin, almost translucent (see through) coat of room temperature softened butter, sprinkle with a very light dusting of sifted flour (use a very light touch or you’ll be biting into raw flour), then fold one end over a fourth of the way and repeat for three more folds, gently roll out, butter and dust with sifted flour, fold in half, and gently roll once more before cutting out biscuits to get the layered style. You do not want to press down hard when rolling or the layers will be lost.
Instead of a buttered pan, I used a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
However, I am not usually up to rolling out biscuits these days. I now use a recipe which can be mixed in my Kitchen Aid and then poured into a buttered casserole dish, baked, and then sliced into squares.