I never order biscuits at breakfast when I’m eating at a restaurant. That’s because I don’t live in the South and I don’t like eating hockey pucks. I don’t buy scones at coffee shops–same basic reason. Those dense wedges with no inherent flavor need a lot of other stuff in them to be even slightly edible. But I can cook a batch of biscuits or scones in 15 minutes and 14 minutes of that is waiting for them to be done baking. It literally takes a minute to make either, and I don’t use a mix.
My recipe is White Lilly self-rising flour and heavy cream. That’s it. Done. White Lilly is common in the south, every grocery store has it, and it’s dirt cheap, the same price as all-purpose flour. Here’s the only difference–White Lilly is made with soft wheat. Most flour in the Northern USA is made with hard wheat. Hard wheat has more protein and better gluten, so it makes better bread. If you want the yeast to do its best work, you want hard wheat flour.
Soft wheat has lower protein and less gluten. It makes lousy bread and great biscuits. All-purpose flour is a mix of soft and hard flour, which means it makes mediocre bread and horrid biscuits or scones. Bread flour or strong flour makes great bread and biscuits that will still exist when cockroaches rule the planet.
You can buy pastry flour in northern grocery stores and it almost works. Biscuits won’t come out as hard, tough little clinkers, but they won’t inspire poems. They won’t be White Lilly biscuits. You can buy White Lilly online from Amazon or Walmart for roughly ten times the price in a neighborhood market anywhere in the south. And it’s worth it. You can get non-self rising and add your own baking powder if you think you won’t make biscuits often and the baking powder would lose potency, but I just get the self-rising.
So you get the right flour and then do all the standard stuff, cutting in butter to make well-greased little nodules and then adding buttermilk until you have a workable dough. They’ll be great. Or you can skip all that and just make your dough with heavy cream, work it gently into a ball, pat it flat to a disk about an inch thick, and cut it into wedges or round biscuits. Bake at 425 until they’re golden brown and eat them while they’re hot.
You can thank me later.
Oh, if you want scones, add a little sugar and an egg. Toss in whatever else you like in a scone. I have gradually switched to plain scones with some ginger/orange/lemon marmalade that I made.