Makes 16. Published May 1, 1993. After stirring in the milk, this dough should feel very soft and moist, but you should be able to hold it briefly between lightly floured hands without its sticking. If it turns out wet and sticky, return it to the bowl and sprinkle it with 2 to 4 tablespoons additional flour (of any kind) on all sides, gently patting in the flour with your palm. Let the dough rest another half-minute before removing it to your work surface. It is best to discard the dough that is left over from the second cutting, as biscuits made with thrice-recycled
dough tend to be tough and flat. These biscuits are best served at once, though leftovers may be wrapped and refrigerated for a day, then reheated for a few minutes in a 350° oven.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (preferably King Arthur)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled, or lard
3/4 cup milk , cold
1. Adjust rack to center position and heat oven to 450.°
2. Mix first 3 ingredients in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted
with steel blade. Add butter; with your fingertips, a pastry blender, 2 knives, or steel
blade of a food processor, mix, cut, or process butter and shortening into dry
ingredients, until the mixture resembles dry oatmeal. (Transfer food processor mixture
to a large bowl.)
3. Stir in milk with a rubber spatula or fork until dry ingredients are just moistened.
Let dough rest for 1 minute, then transfer it to a well-floured work surface.
4. Roll the dough into a rough 6-by-10-inch rectangle. With the long edge of the
dough facing you, fold in both short ends of the dough so that they meet in the center;
then fold the dough in half by width, forming a package of dough four layers thick.
Once again, roll the dough into a 6-by-10-inch rectangle 1/2-inch thick.
5. Using a lightly greased and floured 2-inch cutter, stamp, with one decisive punch
per round, 4 rows of 3 dough rounds, cutting them close together to generate as few
scraps as possible. Dip cutter into flour before each new cut. Push the scraps of dough
together so that their edges join; firmly pinch the edges with fingertips to make a
partial seal. Pat the dough into small rectangle, fold it as before, and re-roll 1/2-inch
thick. Cut out 3 or 4 more biscuits.
6. Place dough rounds 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet; brush dough
tops with melted butter or milk. (May be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up
to 3 hours.)
7. Bake until biscuits are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.