The success story of Callie’s Biscuits is exactly the sort people love to hear. The mother-daughter team have made a booming business out of the country ham biscuits Callie, the mother of the duo, made popular with her Southern catering business. In 2005, her daughter Carrie convinced her to postpone retirement and go into the biscuit biz. Today, they offer six varieties of biscuits (think cinnamon, cheese & chive, black pepper bacon and classic buttermilk) with retailers across the US. You can even sign up for the Biscuit-of-the-Month Club. (Callie’s Biscuits arrive fully cooked and frozen – simply reheat and serve.)
Whether or not you live in the vicinity of Callie’s Biscuits (or are able to have them delivered), I believe everyone should be able to make a good biscuit from scratch. The only way to learn how is by doing it. For best results, make sure all the ingredients are cold, especially the butter – this will help produce light, airy biscuits. For this reason some people don’t like to rub the butter in with their fingers – the warmth of their hands can soften or melt it. Blending it in with a food processor, a wire whisk, pastry cutter or fork. Another great way to add the butter is to freeze it, then grate it in using the coarse side of a box grater. A gentle hand will produce the fluffiest biscuits.
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) baking soda (only if you’re using buttermilk)
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, chilled
3/4 cup (185 mL) buttermilk or milk
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda (if you’re using it) and salt. Cut in the butter and pulse or blend with a fork, pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture is well blended and resembles coarse meal. Add the milk or buttermilk and stir just until the dough comes together. Don’t over mix, or your biscuits will be tough.
On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough about 1/2” thick and cut into circles with a biscuit cutter, the rim of a glass or the open end of a tin can. Reroll the scraps only once to get as many biscuits as possible, and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. If you want wedge-shaped biscuits, pat the dough into an 8” circle (or press it into a cake pan to make a perfect circle), then cut it into wedges with a knife.
If you like, brush the tops of the biscuits with a little milk – this will make them brown nicely, but it isn’t necessary. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Serve right away, while they’re still warm. Makes 8-12 biscuits.
Update: You can find Callie’s actual biscuit recipe over at the Washington Post!