I would like to take a moment to brag about my friend Zok-
He was raised mostly on Macedonian food (we plan to feature some recipes here, as soon as we find the time) in Australia.
Later he moved to Sweden where cuisine is pretty much restrained by the type of produce that can be imported. When we are in Tasmania we are as the Australians would say 'spoiled for choice' - the produce we grow at home is so good, really a person could be happy just eating it all raw.
Zok enjoys cooking and I have gone out of my way to try and introduce new types of cooking-as we seem to spend ages cooking, eating, and cleaning up. Of course- the best of times is when people come over to eat with us.
My point here, really is that Zok does an amazing job making foods that are completely foreign to him, like these biscuits.
How foreign are these biscuits to Australia? Well, let me tell you Australia has the 'KFC' chain but they don't serve biscuits. Perhaps this is good, as I think it would be sad if one's only reference was the fast food/chain version of these.
Don't get discouraged if it takes a few tries to get these 'consistently' perfect- they have a careful balance, like a good pie crust- it takes time to learn.
That said, Zok's first try was almost perfect.
If you get to Asheville (cue song) do not miss going to the Tupelo Honey Cafe, where they in true American fashion, give you free, warm, biscuits as you peruse your menu.
Here is the recipe. It rocks.
2 cups self rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of chilled shortening, cut into pieces (in Europe/AU shortening comes chilled and we tend to grate it) but if you are using crisco- then you should chill it.
1/2 cup heavy cream (this is not a diet food)
1 cup buttermilk
Melted butter (go the 'whole hog' and melt that butter!)
Preheat the oven to 425 f./ 220 c
Position an oven rack slightly below the center of the oven. Lightly butter a round cake pan or cast-iron skillet
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt.
If you don't want to grate your shortening what is recommended is "snap the pieces of shortening with your fingers until the shortening pieces are no larger than peas.
Make a well in the mixture and pour in the cream and 2/3 cup of your buttermilk
Using your hands or a rubber spatula, sweep in the flour and turn the dough until the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough resembles cottage cheese. If it isn't keep adding in the remaining 1/3 cup of buttermilk until you reach this consistency.
Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and then sprinkle the dough with flour as well.
Flour your hands and then fold the dough in half and pat the dough into a width of about 1/3-1/2 inch thickness
Fold again and pat the dough to achieve a 1 inch. thickness
(Use sprinkling of flour as needed- so if you don't get the width the first time, start again, but use the sprinkling of flour all over again)
When you have your 1 inch thickness
Dip a 2-inch round (5 centimeters) biscuit/cookie cutter in your dough, (do not twist your cutter, straight down and up)
Place your biscuits in your pan sides touching.
Brush the tops with melted butter and then bake for 15-20 minutes , until a light golden brown.
This might be best achieved if you rotate your pan after 6-8 minutes
Remove from oven when golden brown and brush once more with melted butter