Buttermilk Biscuits

The other weekend, a friend of mine and I went for brunch to a small corner breakfast diner. We ordered some unspectacular biscuits and gravy and while the gravy was ... um ... okay, the biscuits were ... Well, let me put it this way: I guess, I should have gone to that diner first and then made these wonderfully flaky buttermilk biscuits, not the other way 'round. ;-)

Ingredients (makes 6 to 8 biscuits):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preparation (20 minutes plus 15 minutes baking time):

1. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients together with a fork. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk. Quickly fold dry ingredients into buttermilk with your hands until a sticky dough forms.

2. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Roll dough out to 3/4-inch thick. Cut with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Transfer dough rounds to a sheet pan. Gather scraps and repeat.

3. Make a dimple in the center of each biscuit to help the top rise evenly. Brush with butter. Bake for 15 minutes in an oven (preheated to 400 degree Fahrenheit) until golden brown.

Serve with your favorite breakfast gravy or your choice of jam, jelly, honey, preserve, or marmelade and ... enjoy!