Cat Head Biscuits
When we spied “Cat Head Biscuits" on a highway
We discovered that traditional cat heat biscuit recipes were made with lard, but most modern recipes use shortening instead. We found shortening alone to be too artificial tasting, so we replaced most of the shortening with butter. To create a more tender biscuit, we used an equal mix of cake flour and all-purpose. Most cat head biscuits recipes called for cold fat, which was “cut" into the dry ingredients to promote a flaky texture. Because we were after a fluffy texture, softened butter and shortening worked in with warm hands worked much better.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand, make clabbered milk by whisking 1 tablespoon lemon juice into 1 1/4 cups milk and letting it stand until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. The recipe will also work with 3 cups White Lily flour in place of both the all-purpose and cake flours.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (see note)
1. MIX DOUGH Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9-inch cake pan. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Rub butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk until combined.
2. PORTION BISCUITS Following the instructions at left, use greased 1/2-cup measure or large spring-loaded ice cream scoop to transfer 6 heaping portions of dough into prepared pan, placing 5 around pan's perimeter and 1 in center.
3. BAKE BISCUITS Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve. (Biscuits can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)
Many biscuits are kneaded, rolled, stamped out, and then baked on sheet pans. For Cat Head Biscuits, we instead scoop the sticky, shaggy dough and nestle the biscuits in a cake pan. (A spring-loaded ice cream scoop does the job neatly and quickly.) All snuggled together, they're forced to grow up, rather than out, and the sides stay soft and white.
Southern bakers swear by White Lily all-purpose flour. They say makes biscuits soft and downy, exactly the texture we sought for our Cat Head Biscuits. But what if you don't live in the South and can't easily get your hands on a bag? We found we could replicate it by combining equal amounts of ordinary all-purpose flour (made from a mix of high- and low-gluten wheats) and cake flour (a soft-fine-textured flour).
The soft and fluffy standard-bearer