The subtle flavor of rich olives permeates the flakes of biscuit. These would pair nicely with any soup, or even with a sliced tomato tucked between the halves.
The type of baking pan you choose will affect the biscuits' exterior. Soft: Use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan or ovenproof skillet in which the biscuits will nestle together snugly. Crisp: Use a baking sheet (or two stacked, to insulate the biscuit bottoms) or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed farther apart, allowing air to circulate.
You'll need a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter.
Servings: 12 biscuits
- Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for brushing
- 2 1/4 cups store-bought or homemade self-rising flour (see NOTE)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk
- Flour, as needed
Position the top oven rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 425 degrees. Have your baking pan of choice at hand; if you are using a baking sheet, brush it with a little softened butter.
Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of the self-rising flour in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep; reserve the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Use the back of your hand to make a deep hollow in the center of the flour.
Pour the oil into 3/4 cup of the buttermilk (in a measuring cup), reserving 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, and then pour the combined liquids into the hollow. Stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the liquid. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough beings to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If some flour remains on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved buttermilk, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.
Generously dust the work surface with all-purpose flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface. Use more of the flour to coat your hands.
Fold the dough in half; pat it out into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat the dough out into a round 1/2-inch thick for a normal biscuit, 3/4-inch thick for a tall biscuit and 1-inch thick for a giant biscuit. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved 1/4 cup of flour; cut out the biscuits, pressing firmly, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter.
Dough scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although they make tougher biscuits.
Carefully transfer the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for 10 to 14 minutes, depending on thickness, until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If they are, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard browning. Bake for 4 to 8 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown.
When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven; lightly brush the tops with softened butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.
NOTE: To make self-rising flour, combine 1 cup all-purpose Southern flour (such as White Lily, which has more gluten), 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months, or freeze for up to 1 year.
Adapted from "Southern Biscuits," by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs-Smith, 2011).
Tested by Becky Krystal.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.