angel biscuits

I really can’t wait to tell you about all the things I have done (or am going to do) with what I got for Christmas (namely, what I am doing with this).  But for now here is something a little more basic, to be done without any special equipment, and in a relatively quick amount of time (considering that it has to rise).
First let me tell you my feelings about shortening though.  I know.  Everyone has feelings about shortening, and I am no exception.  And my main feeling is this: that the idea of it kind of grossed me out.  I’ve always bookmarked recipes with shortening thinking that I would just replace everything with butter and life would be grand.  And I even thought about doing the same thing with these biscuits.  But then on the night before Christmas Eve I was lying in bed awake thinking about how I was going to make these biscuits the next day and how they would have to rise on the counter for at least 30 minutes and how that timing was going to work out with everywhere we needed to be that day.  And then I realized that I couldn’t use butter, because if they have to rise the butter will melt, and then all those perfectly cut in pieces of butter would have been no use, as they would cause minimal flakiness.
So on Christmas Eve I grumbled and went and bought some shortening (because it was too late to change the plan…I am not a last a minute plan-changer).  And it turns out that I was right, that I did need to use shortening.  But when I ate these I almost didn’t even care because the biscuits were so fluffy and flaky.  I never thought that things made with shortening could ever compare to things made with butter, but it turns out that sometimes it doesn’t matter and sometimes there is a reason that every angel biscuit recipe ever calls for shortening.
I really hope that you had a wonderful Christmas (or other preferred holiday).  We laughed a lot and opened some gifts and ate a lot, and best of all just sat around as a family without the rest of the world distracting us.  It was lovely.
Prep Time: 20  minutes
Wait Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Makes about 32
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk
1. Combine yeast and warm water in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup.  Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes, until mixture is bubbly.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Use a pastry blender or fork to cut the shortening into the flour mixture, until mixture is crumbly.
3. Add yeast and buttermilk to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
4. Generously flour a board or counter top.  Dump dough onto board and knead it lightly 6-8 times.  Then roll dough out (using a lot of flour on the rolling pin) until dough is 1/2 inch thick.
5. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
6. Use a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter to cut biscuits and place on lightly greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until doubled in size. *
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are lightly brown.  Serve warm.
*This is also a great time to put them in the fridge.  I made these on Christmas Eve, chilled them overnight, and then let them sit out and rise for awhile on Christmas morning before I baked them.

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