2 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, lard, Crisco or butter (I use butter)
1 cup of milk (cream) or buttermilk
if using buttermilk add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda)
Optional. Add a little sugar if you prefer sweet rather than savory.
Mix the flour with the baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter/shortening until it resembles coarse meal. Stir milk or cream in to flour mixture. Mix quickly with fork until dough comes together. Using hands gently pat the ingredients together. Fold over once or twice or even three times if necessary. Do not over-handle.
Pat out to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut with biscuit cutters and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes at 450°F.
TIP: Using your finger push a little dent into the middle of the biscuit. This helps the biscuit rise straight and prevents it from tipping over as it rises.
If making cheese biscuits add the mustard and cayenne to the dry ingredients and add the cheese after the shortening has been cut into the flour.
Tip: An easy way to cut the butter into the flour is to use a box grater. The large side of the grater makes the perfect size pieces of butter.
You can use any favourite cheese. Gorgonzola and other blue cheeses are wonderful with the addition of black pepper. Cheddar cheese is good with chives or green onions. Sometimes I add dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Or bacon or ham.