My little brother, Kenneth, knows his way around the kitchen. But, when he texted me a sad photo of some drop biscuits gone wrong (read: flat) I promised to send him a recipe for a more foolproof method.
Adapted from a Dot's Diner Buttermilk Biscuits originally published in Bon Appétit October 2000, this home-kitchen recipe uses a few tricks—namely grated, frozen butter and a crowded cast iron skillet—to produce big, fluffy "cathead" drop biscuits, in the Southern style. —Melanie Crissey
all-purpose flour, White Lily recommended
unsalted butter, frozen (one and a half sticks)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. If you haven't already done so, stick your butter in the freezer.
Fluff your flour. Using the spoon and level method, measure out 3 cups of flour into a large bowl.
Into the bowl of flour, add the sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
Using a medium-wide blade on a box grater, shred the frozen butter directly into the flour mixture. Work quickly so the butter sticks don't warm in your hands.
With clean, floured hands make "claws" and gently fluff the butter into the flour mixture to distribute it evenly. Break up any large chunks of butter by pinching the mixture with your fingers, but be careful not to handle the butter too much. The mixture should be loose and the butter shreds should be just barely covered in flour. This step should take less than 2 minutes.
Heat a 10" cast iron skillet on the eye of the stove and melt the rendered bacon fat into the pan.
Working quickly (so your bacon fat doesn't smoke!) create a well in your flour/butter mix and pour in one cup of buttermilk. Save the scant extra buttermilk and set it aside while you mix.
Using a large spoon, slowly combine the buttermilk into the flour/butter mixture until it forms a loose dough but don't over-mix. If after a few turns in the bowl you still have dry pockets of flour, drizzle in extra buttermilk until the mixture is wet. Don't be overly careful about it. Your end result should be very thick and lumpy with few dry spots.
Grab a large cookie scoop (or an ice cream dipper). Starting from the center of the cast iron pan and then working outward in a circle, scoop out seven heaping spoonfuls of biscuit dough into the hot cast iron. You want the biscuits to be a bit cozy; they'll rise better if they're a bit crowded. Each one should sizzle a bit when it hits the grease in the pan. This is key for a crispy bottom!
Move the cast iron from the eye into the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. When done, the highest peaks of the biscuits should be toasted brown but the rest of the biscuit should be a light, golden color. Serve with honey, jam, or chocolate gravy.