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Minimum Wage Biscuits

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Recipe By Daniel McLaughlin

The trick to great biscuits is keeping the cooking fat as cold as possible. You want all those little bits of butter solid when they enter the oven, so when they cook it slowly melts giving you beautiful buttery flakes. The other trick is not to over work the dough. Kneading creates more gluten bonds which is fine if you’re making pizza dough, but you want biscuits to have a beautiful crumble.

While I’m giving lectures on quality ingredients, you’ll notice this recipe calls for shortening. Before you write me emails warning me of the nutritional dangers, this is NOT the hydrogenated transfat filled Crisco. This is organically raised and harvested, expeller-pressed palm oil. It has less saturated fat than butter, and because it’s vegetable based it has zero cholesterol. Like I said, these could fit my gluttony month as much as my budget month, but they’re delicious and I had to share them. Enjoy.

Serves 12


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon salted butter (cold)
  • 2 tablespoon Spectrum Organic shortening (cold)
  • 1 cup buttermilk


    1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
    2. Combine dry goods in a bowl with some room to maneuver.
    3. Cut your butter into smaller pieces, handling it as little as possible and drop it onto the dry goods. Scoop out the shortening and add it to the mix (I keep my shortening in the fridge even though you don’t have to cause it flakes better that way). Now get in there with your hands and crumble the butter and shortening into the flour. Try not to leave any pieces any larger than a pea, bearing in mind that the more you handle the butter, the more it will melt from the heat of your hands, so try and be quick about it. If it’s gonna be a minute before you use it, but it back in the fridge to keep the fat cold.
    4. Add the buttermilk. I use my hands for this too, though it gets pretty sticky. Quickly and loosely mix the milk in until there aren’t any loose flour particles hanging out at the bottom of the bowl.
    5. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and flatten with the palms of your hands to about a 1.5″ thickness. Using a cookie cutter or the floured rim of a water glass, cut the dough into circles and put onto a greased baking sheet. You want to use a thick one here (I use a cast iron skillet) so that the bottoms don’t burn. Place the biscuits shoulder to shoulder too, don’t spread them out. Once they’re all cut, put a little thumb indent on the top of each one. Just a little dimple. It helps them stay compact when cooking.
    6. Bake for 12-15 minutes ’til golden biscuit brown on top and serve immediately if not sooner.

Purists go for just butter on these bad boys. I say jam is never a bad idea. If you’re going for super-indulgence, make a sandwich with a tangy goat cheese, fig jam and bacon. I’ve never tried this.* I am after all a health guru, it just crossed my mind.

*This is a total lie. Those were amazing.

Reminder: The ingredients in a recipe determine if it should be eaten every day, some days, or on special occasions. It's up to you and you doctor to determine what can be part of a healthy diet for you and any special needs you may have.

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Photo by Flicker user mollycakes / CC BY-NC 2.0

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