Sharon Benton learned to make biscuits from her mother, who rolled them out almost every day. “This was before cereal, so that was breakfast,” she says. By the time she met her husband, the retired school administrator had her recipe down pat.
Then, one morning with her mother-in-law changed everything. “I was watching her make biscuits, and she just mixed buttermilk and self-rising flour,” Benton says. “I thought, well, that’s a lot easier than having to cut the shortening in.” Breakfast was never the same. “I probably haven’t put shortening in my biscuits for forty years.”
And she makes a lot of them. She’s married to Allan Benton, the career cure master whose East Tennessee bacon and country ham star on menus all over the world. For breakfast, the couple eats hot biscuits with meats from the ham house. “These are not flaky, crumbly, recipe-book biscuits, and that’s actually a good thing,” she says. “When you’re putting country ham inside, you don’t want a flaky biscuit.”
With the right ingredients, these are lighter and paler than their buttery counterparts, rising like afternoon clouds and exhaling buttermilk steam. What ingredients are those? For Benton, the answer is very specific: Our Best self-rising flour, from Boonesville, North Carolina, and Cruze Farm buttermilk, from outside Knoxville. You can make her biscuits at home with any self-rising soft winter wheat flour and high-quality, full-fat buttermilk. However, if you substitute supermarket buttermilk, you’ll get flat, boring results—it doesn’t contain enough butterfat. Find a local dairy and you’ll have the key to the best easy biscuits you’ll ever make. “I’m pretty sure my mother still thinks I cut put shortening in them, the way she taught me,” Benton says. “She’s always telling me, ‘Your biscuits are so delicious!’ So I don’t think I’m going to burst that bubble.”
Sharon Benton’s Two-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits
Sharon Benton brushes her biscuits with margarine, but acknowledges that butter tastes better. Feel free to use either, and to add texture and flavor to these simple rounds with an optional sprinkling of coarse salt.