Shirley Corriher's Touch-of-Grace Biscuits

By • December 23, 2011 20 Comments

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Author Notes: A genius technique for guarding against dry biscuits. Food scientist and baking expert Shirley Corriher says the dough "should be a wet mess" -- a moist dough steams up into fluffy biscuits in a hot oven, and a low-protein self-rising flour like White Lily will make them extra tender, if you can get it. Note: Corriher, ever the scientist and tinkerer, published one version of this recipe in CookWise in 1997, and a fairly different one in BakeWise in 2008. We tried and loved both, the newer one edged out. Note: If you can't find self-rising flour, substitute 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, and increase the salt to 1 teaspoon. This version is adapted slightly from BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking (Scribner, 2008).Genius Recipes

Makes 12 to 14 medium biscuits

  • Butter for greasing, or nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups (9 ounces/255 g) spooned and leveled self-rising flour (preferably low-protein Southern U.S. flour like White Lily)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or less, if you prefer your biscuits less sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk, or enough for dough to resemble cottage cheese (if you are not using low-protein flour, it will take more than 1 cup)
  • 1 cup plain all-purpose flour, for shaping
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and arrange a shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Butter an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingers until there are no large lumps. Gently stir in the cream, then some of the buttermilk until dough resembles wet cottage cheese. It should be a wet mess -- not soup, but cottage-cheese texture. If you are not using a low-protein flour, this may take considerably more than 1 cup of buttermilk.
  3. Spread the plain all-purpose flour (not self-rising) out on a plate or pie pan. With a medium (about 2 inches, #30) ice cream scoop or spoon, place three or four scoops of dough well apart in the flour. Sprinkle flour over each. Flour your hands. Turn a dough ball in the flour to coat, pick it up, and gently shape it into a round, shaking off the excess flour as you work. Place this biscuit in the prepared pan. Coat each dough ball in the same way and place each shaped biscuit scrunched up against its neighbor so that the biscuits rise up and don't spread out. Continue scooping and shaping until all dough is used.
  4. Place the pan on the arranged shelf in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush with the melted butter. Invert onto one plate, then back onto another. With a knife or spatula, cut quickly between biscuits to make them easy to remove. Serve immediately. "Butter 'em while they're hot."
  5. Note: Do not use self-rising flour for shaping, as the leavener will give a bitter taste to the outside of the biscuits.

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Comments (20) Questions (7)


5 months ago Heidi Vaught

This was my first time making biscuits. These were incredibly easy and delicious! My partner and I were both very impressed. The biscuits are, as others have mentioned, very sweet. If you know you like to slather on jam or honey reduce the sugar. If you enjoy being able to eat a biscuit without having to put anything on it keep the sugar as is. Either way, do yourself a favor and make this quick!


7 months ago taxidog

I must try these soon-they are guaranteed to work! If you are not familiar with Shirley, she is a biochemist specializing in all things food. She is fascinating in her explanations of how cooking and baking works. She authored 2 genius books on the how's and whys of cooking. They are good reads.


over 1 year ago tamaraRR

I'm excited to try these! I was just wondering if I could make the dough and then freeze the biscuits, shaped in the cake pan? Thanks!


over 1 year ago EFF

Can this be made with any of the non-gluten flours?


over 1 year ago juicyrebound1

I agree with Elaine, these ain't my Granny's biscuits, but they are tender, light and quite delicious. Shortcake is a good call with fresh berries.


over 1 year ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's contributors editor.

These are the most insane, heavenly biscuits I have EVER tried. I made them to bring to a dinner party. I did all of the steps up to the baking ahead of time, then brought them to my friends' house and baked them there. Perfect, melt-in-your-mouth, light as air biscuits.


about 2 years ago Katie

These are my new go-to biscuits. I've made them three times in the past few weeks and still can't get enough. Genius, indeed.


over 2 years ago Elaine Lowery James

Scones have sugar, biscuits don't, at least not in GA where I grew up.


over 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Shirley is also from GA, Elaine... and these are some seriously wonderful biscuits. However, I don't remember sugar being in the version of these I got 25 years ago. And I don't use self-rising flour.


over 2 years ago esther gregg

These sound delicious, just like I used to make years ago, but without the sugar. Has anyone tried them using Pamela's gluten free mix?


about 3 years ago AnyaTika

Always on the hunt for a biscuit recipe that was amazing and easy to remember. This is it. I've had a great time reading up on Shirley as well. What an interesting and inspiring woman. I will say that the amount of sugar was too much for my savory application of biscuits and gravy so I halved the sugar and they were perfect. Even passed the inspection of my very southern family.

I haven't come across a recipe that I've enjoyed and at the same time came out so perfectly as I have with this one.



over 3 years ago Soozll

I wandered in yesterday and this recipe was featured on the front page. I couldn't resist it! I watched the video, twice, and marched right into the kitchen and made these babies! Now, I didn't have White Lily, let alone any self rising flour, so I used regular all purpose minus 1 heaping tablespoon full and added 2 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda then followed the rest of the recipe exactly. Wow! These really are the tallest, lightest, fluffiest biscuits I've ever made...and the sweetest. I'd probably use this recipe as a shortcake for berries rather than a dinner biscuit, but Buddy..they were good. Did I say light? And fluffy? Amazing! Will knock back the sugar next time to maybe one tablespoon to use as a dinner biscuit, but the technique is genius!


over 3 years ago meganvt01

We made this for Easter dinner and they were a hit! Definitely sweeter than I had anticipated but everyone thought they were lovely. Easy to make and will be a new staple.


over 3 years ago meganvt01

We made this for Easter dinner and they were a hit! Definitely sweeter than I had anticipated but everyone thought they were lovely. Easy to make and will be a new staple.


over 3 years ago jessicatjink

i have been looking for a pat biscuit recipe like my grandpa's for ages, he passed suddenly and we never thought to ask for his recipes. every southern biscuit recipe out there says to cut with a biscuit cutter and that's just not how ours were done. this is what we ate, well except for the sugar, will be omitting that step, or else pa will be turning in his grave!! thanks for the recipe i thought was lost forever!!


over 3 years ago DrCrankyPants

I have made these for years, and they are awesome. To make it even easier, just use a portioner (large ice cream scoop) to put the soft dough into greased muffin/cupcake tins. No need to coat with the flour and they rise beautifully.


over 3 years ago cbwarman

I whipped these tasty little biscuits up in no time! I used ordinary self-rising flour and didn't know when I'd reached the "cottage cheese" stage, but after a quick roll in the loose flour, the biscuit balls held well. They are absolutely delicious. I would omit the sugar if I were using the biscuits in a savory way, but found them the perfect sweetness for jam and/or honey. I will be adding these to the rotation of carry-along food for BBQ's and brunches. YUM!


over 3 years ago nutcakes

These are great. I've made them from her book Cookwise. If you don't have self rising flour, just add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder plus 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup of flour.


over 3 years ago Texas Ex

Made these for Christmas morning breakfast, and they are fantastic. Light, fluffy, with just a hint of sweetness. Will make gravy the next time!


over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wow, these are wonderful! And adding a bit of grace is just so perfectly Southern. Simply love this, so I'll be using it within the next week, for sure! ;o)