Shirley's Feather-Light Biscuits

Shirley Corriher is a famous food scientist and James Beard foundation award-winning author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking. She has worked with White Lily® to develop this recipe - the ultimate, feather-light biscuit. Her method is unconventional, but it produces the world’s softest, most delicious, most ethereal biscuit. Shirley truly is a culinary genius!

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray, for oiling pan
  • 1 1/2 cups Southern self-rising flour (preferably White Lily®)*
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons shortening (preferably zero trans-fat)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, for shaping
  • 2 tablespoons lightly salted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Adjust an oven rack to just above the middle position. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine self-rising flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium-mixing bowl. With your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the shortening into the flour mixture until there are no shortening lumps larger than a big pea.

Stir in buttermilk and cream, and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. (Note: This dough is so wet that you can’t shape it in the usual manner.)

Pour the cup of all-purpose flour onto a plate or pie tin; flour your hands well. Spoon a biscuit-size lump of wet dough into the flour, and sprinkle some flour over the wet dough to coat the outside. Pick up the biscuit and shape it roughly into a round; at the same time, shake off the excess flour. The dough is so soft that it will not hold its shape. As you shape each biscuit, place it in the pan. Push the biscuits tightly against each other so that they will rise up and not spread out; continue shaping biscuits in this manner until all of the dough is used.**

Brush biscuits with melted butter, and bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 1 or 2 minutes in the pan, then dump out and cut the biscuits apart. Butter while hot and eat immediately.

Tips and Techniques

* If low-protein Southern self-rising flour is not available, use 1 cup national brand self-rising flour and 1/2 cup instant flour (such as Shake & Blend or Wondra) or cake flour plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. If self-rising flour is not available, use a total of 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Do not use self-rising flour for shaping since the leavener will give a bitter taste to the outside of the biscuits.

** To make a large batch of biscuits in a hurry, spray a 2-inch ice cream scoop with cooking spray. Cover a jellyroll pan with all-purpose flour. Quickly scoop biscuits onto the floured pan, sprinkle with flour, then shape and place in small pans to bake.

Adapted from

Makes about 10 biscuits

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